|In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7. Hamilton was recently appointed Chief of Staff for Maj. Gen. John Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. Nichols had several goals for the event including enhancing interpersonal relationships within the different groups and beginning to address issues that impact the culture and readiness of the TXMF. Representatives came from the Texas State Guard, the Air National Guard, the United States Property and Fiscal Office, several Army National Guard brigade commanders and the office of the TAG.
Story by Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright
AUSTIN, Texas - Coffee cups and presentation packets vied for table space as senior members of the Texas Military Forces gathered for a two-day information and introduction conference at the JJ Pickle Research Campus with Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the most recent appointee to the office of the Adjutant General for Texas.
Attendees of the conference included members of the Texas Army National Guard , Air National Guard and State Guard, with a cross section of representatives from the officer, enlisted and civilian workforce directly involved with the Adjutant General’s office.
Nichols’ goal for the event was two-fold. First, he wanted to provide an opportunity for interpersonal relationships to develop, enhancing communication across the services. Second, he sought to open a forum introducing and addressing issues impacting the culture and readiness of the TXMF.
“This is an opportunity for each of our groups to calibrate our compasses to be in tune with the vision [Nichols] has for Texas service members,” said Col. William Hall, Joint Task Force 71 commander. “But also, for each of our groups to be in tune with each other; to better see how we can support and in turn be supported.”
Conference planners designed the gathering to function as a relationship-building and advance-planning tool in a mutually-supportive environment. Each group took the opportunity to present their resources, expertise and potential for growth while maintaining frankness on limitations and opening the floor for discussion.
“One of the greatest advantages our members bring to the table is our passion for volunteerism,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Peters, commander of the Texas State Guard, as he presented the capabilities and limitations of the no-contract force that make up the TSG. “To join the State Guard you have to possess a distinct passion to serve, specifically as a selfless leader.”
“However,” he continued, “we are faced with true tests as leaders to keep our members engaged without any contractual obligation.”
Conference attendees fulfilled Nichols, few yet substantial goals through a series of break-out sessions and forums where both the officers and enlisted personnel discuss new training programs, the current state of the Texas Military Force as a whole, and new changes in doctrine like the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
“When our leadership starts talking policy, how best to create or enforce it, I consider it my highest priority to be in the room,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Broyles, command sergeant major for the Texas Army National Guard. “There are times when the enlisted voice needs to speak up. I use my experience to help guide these talks to increase the chances of a positive outcome for both enlisted and officers.”
Nichols noted that this casual format enables individuals to spend more time informing themselves on issues and opportunities that exist in support of command and its mission, while allowing ample time to develop crucial personal networks.
“The cross talk that results from having us all here together allows synchronization and development of improved ways ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the assistant adjutant general-Army for Texas and commander of the Texas Army National Guard.
Stevens supervises the operations, training and readiness, and resource allocation for both state and federal missions and serves as the principal advisor to Nichols on all matters concerning the Texas Army National Guard.
Nichols closed out the event by requesting the attendees re-affirm their promise to uphold the values that act as a common bond for the Texas Military Forces.
As one the group stood, raised their right hand and recited the TXMF values that spell out LONE STAR: Loyalty, Opportunity, Networked, Ethics & Excellence, Selfless Service, Texas Spirit, Adaptability and Ready.