Posts From May, 2014

Texas Guardsmen share response lessons with Brazilians

members of the Exercito Brasileiro or Brazilian Army, conduct a tour of the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, home of the Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) April 8, 2014.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego
In this image, members of the Exercito Brasileiro or Brazilian Army, conduct a tour of the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, home of the Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) April 8, 2014. The delegation, which included Maj. Anaditalia Pinheiro Viana Araujo, 1st Lt. Aline Campos Dia, and Sgt. 1st Class Jao Batista Junior, conduct the vist to learn about the brigade's Homeland Response Force Mission, which bridges the gap between civilian first responders and National Guard support efforts. Photo by National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego.

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego


ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Texas National Guard is no stranger to international partnerships, sharing long working relationships with both Chile and the Czech Republic. Recently, though, members of Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), a Round Rock-based National Guard unit, enjoyed a visit from a new foreign partner: the Exército Brasieiro, the Brazilian Army. The visit, conducted May 8th at the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, focused on sharing best practices during emergency response operations.

"The main objective is to learn about the program," said Maj. Anaditália Pinheiro Viana Araújo. "We are beginning our  program in Brazil. We are looking for knowledge from different sources."

 Araújo, a medical officer within the Exército Brasieiro, was joined by 1st Lt. Aline Campos Dias, who serves as a military  doctor, and Sgt. 1st Class João Batista Júnior, a combat medic. With their specialty in patient care, learning how the  National Guard approaches mass casualty incidents was a natural fit. Prior to meeting with JTF-136 (MEB), they toured  the San Antonio Army Medical Center and the San Antonio Fire & EMS Department. 

 "It was wonderful," said Júnior. "You showed us how the military and the civilians can work together. That is fantastic for  us. It would be nice if in the future, we could have the same structure. 

 JTF-136 (MEB), as custodian of the FEMA Region VI Homeland Response Force Mission, is uniquely qualified to  discuss the role of interagency cooperation during emergency response operations. Their mission is, at the request of  civil authorities, to directly support and reinforce the life-saving efforts of local first responders in a disaster engagement.  Unlike the United States, Brazil's military forces serve as their first responders in combating natural and man-made  threats.

 "There, we are the first responder," said Júnior. "In Brazil, we are the only response that we have. We need to teach our people to do the same, to be prepared for some kind of threat and divide the responsibility with us."

On hand to share the National Guard support perspective was the 6th CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, the life-saving element of JTF-136 (MEB)'s HRF mission. CBRNE refers to the increased threat of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive hazards during a mass-casualty incident that would require the specialized capabilities of military assets in supporting civilian first responders.

"As an element of the CBRNE mission, the 6th CERFP was delighted to entertain members of the Exército Brasieiro," said Lt. Col. Les Edwards, commander for the 6th CERFP. "Their visit allowed us an opportunity to positively influence our international partners as they develop their own emergency response management team."

Sharing their experiences and best practices helped bridge the gap between the two nations' armies, fostering trust and confidence as they discussed how best to approach their respective life-saving missions. 

"It is always interesting to discuss the civil-military relationship that exists in the United States with representatives from other countries, like Brazil, and compare and contrast the two systems," said Maj. Patrick Nolan, the training officer for JTF-136 (MEB). "Only by understanding such things can we communicate an understanding of how missions like the Homeland Response Force actually work."

Communication was a key theme throughout the tour, as Guard personnel shared with the Brazilian delegation the equipment and techniques that allow them to work fluidly with their civil partners. 

"The main equipment that we need is the communication equipment to integrate the people we have," said Dias. When asked what the best capability they could gain in Brazil would be after meeting their US counterparts, she responded, "the possibility to have communications with people who are in the hot zone and people who are in the cold or warm zone."

These zones refer to the varying levels of contamination that make up a CBRNE situation. The hot zone represents the greatest contamination threat when rescuers are already working to save lives from rubble and debris. The threat of such hazards is especially relevant for the Brazilian army as they prepare to host the World Cup later this year and the Olympics in 2016. Security and safety preparations will be tantamount during these high-profile events.

"These are the kind of events in the United States that the National Guard would be called on to support with capabilities like the Civil Support Team," said Nolan. "They are just now developing those capabilities in Brazil and today's visit is especially important for them."

The members of JTF-136 (MEB) look forward to continuing this relationship with their Brazilian counterparts and furthering their emergency response program. For them, it's not about the uniforms worn, it's about the lives saved when disaster strikes. 

"The more we share best practices," said Edwards, "the better equipped they will be to answer the call when it comes."

Gov. Perry inducts 9 into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

Gov. Perry inducts 9 into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame
Posted on: May 6, 2014 | By Lauren McGaughy

First Lady Anita Perry, Secretary of State Nandita Berry and Houston-area state Rep. Senfronia Thompson were just three of the honorees Gov. Rick Perry inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

The biennial awards were handed out to nine women in a ceremony held in Texas State Senate Chambers. The inductees, chosen for the leadership they exhibited in everything from business and health advocacy to community and public service, will be featured in the state’s Hall of Fame permanent exhibit at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. The names of more than 100 notable women have been added to the list since it was established in 1984 under then-Gov. Mark White.

During his keynote address, Perry said the successes of these women are all the greater for having been made in the face of often overwhelming societal barriers. He said the Hall of Fame is a place for the state’s greatest, many of whom were “non-conformists.” “Yes Senfronia, I’m looking at you,” Perry joked, referring to Thompson, the longest-serving woman and African-American in the Texas Legislature.

After the ceremony, Thompson said her greatest achievement has been standing up for Texas citizens who can’t afford lobbyists, whom she calls the “little dogs.” When asked about her long career – she was first voted in in 1972 and has been re-elected 21 times – she said serving in the state Legislature is more than just a job to her. “It’s not work to me. It’s something I fell in love with.” Thompson arguably received the loudest standing ovation of the inductees Tuesday, the video presentation of her life and leadership ending with her proclaiming indigent and uneducated Texans are “not asking for a handout. They’re asking to be lifted up.”

Newly-minted Secretary of State Nandita Berry also was honored for her accomplishments in the business and legal fields. During his speech, Perry specifically touched on Berry and her path – from her arrival in the U.S. 25 years ago with less than $200 in her pocket, to her naturalization, thriving legal career working for Fortune 500 companies and international law firms and, finally, her appointment as Texas’ first Secretary of State of Indian descent in January.

Perry also honored his wife, Anita, with a leadership award. During her video presentation, Anita Perry noted her long career as a nurse and her efforts to promote economic development, child immunization and anti-domestic violence programs during her years as First Lady of Texas. Gov. Perry also thanked his wife for saying yes to his marriage proposal, more than 16 years after they first started dating.

The recipients are chosen from nominations submitted and reviewed by a panel of judges. Past honorees include former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, basketball star Sheryl Swoops, astronaut Sally Ride, George W. Bush counselor and ex-U.S. State Department Undersecretary Karen Hughes and Ann Richards, Texas’ most recent female governor.

Below is a full list of the 2014 inductees to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame:

- Nandita Berry (Business Award): Texas Secretary of State, the first of Indian descent, appointed Jan. 7, 2014; former counsel at Locke Lorde LLP in Houston. – Lillie Biggins (Health Award): President of the non-profit medical center Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, Chair of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board of Directors.

- Joanne Herring (Community Service Award): Houston-area socialite, businesswoman, philanthropist and cultural ambassador; active in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a key driver in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s efforts to convince Congress to support Afghan fighters against the Soviet incursion.

- Ret. Col. Kim Olson (Military Award): President and CEO of Grace Under Fire, a nonprofit serving female veterans; retired Air Force colonel and one of the first female military pilots to command an operational flying squadron; after serving on the Joint Staff and under the Secretary of Defense, she became the Director of Human Resources for the Dallas Independent School District. Also served in Texas State Guard as IT and personnel systems head.

- Anita Perry (Leadership Award): longest-serving First Lady of Texas; former nurse and current advocate for Texas economic development, childhood immunizations, breast cancer awareness, and anti-domestic violence and sexual assault programs; founded the Texas Conference of Women in 2000.

- Dr. Ann Stuart (Education Award): Chancellor and President of Texas Woman’s University; has grown university enrollment 85 percent under her tenure, which began in 1999; supporter of programs benefiting animals and natural spaces, like the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and Dallas Zoo.

- State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Public Service Award): longest-serving woman and African-American in the state Legislature; Houston attorney; author of anti-hate crime and human trafficking legislation and laws creating a minimum wage and state drug courts; former public school teacher.

- Deborah Tucker (Community Service Award): Founder of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence; former school teacher and founder of the Austin Center for Battered Women, the nation’s first shelter for abused women and their children.

- Carolyn Wright (Public Service Award): Chief Justice for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; first African-American head of a Texas intermediate court of appeal and first black woman to win a multi-county election in the Lone Star State; civil, family and criminal judge with 30 years experience; Houston-born recipient of the Yellow Rose of Texas award for community service.