Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas National Guard conducts border mission Transfer of Authority

Story by Capt. Maria Mengrone, Texas Military Department

MCALLEN, Texas-- After a few weeks of training, Texas National Guard Soldiers began work in their sectors fulfilling administrative, surveillance and maintenance tasks in order to free up agents and assist in border mission efforts as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive of “putting badges back to the border,” Tuesday, May 1, 2018.  (Photos by Army 1st. Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/Released)
MCALLEN, Texas-- After a few weeks of training, Texas National Guard Soldiers began work in their sectors fulfilling administrative, surveillance and maintenance tasks in order to free up agents and assist in border mission efforts as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive of “putting badges back to the border,” Tuesday, May 1, 2018.  (Photos by Army 1st. Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas National Guard conducted a transfer of authority on July 12, 2018, for Operation Guardian Support, the ongoing border mission prompted by the president’s call to enhance security along the U.S. southwestern border.

The 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based in Round Rock, relinquished its authority of the border mission, as part of Operation Guardian Support, to the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division based in Houston. 
 
The 136th MEB was the first headquarter element tasked to provide operational oversight and implementation of logistical and administrative support to Guardsmen deployed along the 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border.
 
“As a standing Joint Task Force, the 136th MEB was able to respond to the rapid mobilization and deployment requirements,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Scott M. MacLeod, commander of the136th MEB.  “Our authorities granted by the U.S. Constitution, combined with our unique military capabilities, make the National Guard the perfect force to bridge the gap between the military and law enforcement.” 
Operation Guardian Support officially kicked off on April 6, 2018, when Gov. Greg Abbott activated 250 Texas National Guardsmen.

Even in the face of challenges with manning, equipment and training Soldiers from across Texas, the 136th MEB was able to successfully establish requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
    
“Our experience in the 2014 border mobilization and previous mobilizations enabled us to anticipate the requirements for the operational environment in which we’d be operating,” said MacLeod. “Both Hurricane Harvey, as well as this recent mobilization, have reminded us that we must be prepared to deploy with no notice in support of our state and nation.”

Guardsmen assigned to Operation Guardian Support are activated under Title 32 duty status, allowing the governor to maintain command and control of the Guard force.  

The troops are assigned to the five CBP sectors in El Paso, Big Bend, Del Rio, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.

The border mission has steadily grown to include 1,100 deployed troops, with personnel and aviation assets from other states, including South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. 
  
The 72nd IBCT leadership is prepared and committed to continue the success of the 136th MEB.

“I am truly looking forward to this great opportunity for myself and the 72nd IBCT along with all the units supporting OGS. Any time the 72nd IBCT is selected to conduct a challenging mission, it is a great honor which we will make happen,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Rodrigo R. Gonzalez, Commander, 72nd IBCT, 36th Infantry Division.  

Guardsmen assigned to Operation Guardian Support have taken on various support roles maintaining and repairing infrastructure, clearing vegetation, unloading and loading trucks at ports of entry, fixing emergency beacons, conducting aerial detection and providing logistical support, while CBP focuses on enforcing immigration law.

The 72nd IBCT’s commander has set forth a clear vision for his Guardsmen as the unit assumes control of the OGS mission, which is currently funded until September 30, 2018.

“My three priorities are to conduct and accomplish the mission to support CBP throughout the Texas border areas, provide support to the three OGS Task Forces so they can execute the mission and improve Soldier readiness and collective training readiness while Soldiers and units are on mission,” said Gonzalez.

Operation Guardian Support consists of Task Force Anzio, Task Force Salerno, Task Force Defender and Task Force Aviation, which also includes Operation Secure Texas, a separately funded Title 32 border mission that launched in 2014 as a coordinated effort between the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure Texas’ border with Mexico.  
 

Transportation Company sets new National Guard gun crew record

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

National Guard soldier manning truck based mounted gun
Photo By Spc. Christina Clardy | The 249th Transportation Company, 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion set a new National Guard record as of June 2018 for being the only sustainment unit to have 32 qualified mounted gun crews. The 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard transportation company set this new record during their annual training at Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 249th Transportation Company, 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the Texas Army National Guard set a new National Guard record as of June 2018 during their annual training. 

"As it stands right now, no sustainment unit has qualified 32 gun crews in the National Guard," said Capt. Aaron Sanders, commander of the 249th Trans. Co., out of Killeen, Texas. "We started the training in January moving through the process up to our blank fire exercises in February."

These 32 vehicle-mounted crew-served weapon crews are part of larger changes in the U.S. Army and the missions for each type of unit creating new training requirements for transportation units.

"Under the U.S. Army's new modular system, a combat arms unit will no longer be allocated to provide convoy security to logistics convoys," explained Sanders. "So the new unit requirements allot for logistics and sustainment units to be given their own crew-served weapons to provide their own security on convoys. This means that my 39 gun crews in my two transportation platoons will provide their own convoy security as they move people, containers and equipment from point A to point B."

The three-person crews completed their next two levels of exercises during their March, April and May drill weekends. These blocks of training consisted of day and night fire missions with live ammunition. 

"These crews have been putting in extra drill days and our annual training is 21 days this year when normally it's only 15 days," said 1st Sgt. Jason Coates, first sergeant of the 249th "Road Hogs" Trans. Co. "They've had to do a lot of work, and training in things they have never done before. These Soldiers have gone from zero: never doing anything like this, to qualified gun crews in under six months."

The sixth block of training is the qualification level. The minimum score to qualify is 700 points. A score over 800 is "Superior" and a score over 900 is "Distinguished." By June 22, the company had qualified 32 mounted gun crews and set a new record in the National Guard.

"For a bunch of the crews, day fire was really hard but we all still qualified," said Private 1st Class Daniel Hughes, a gun crew gunner in the 249th Trans. Co. "However, my gun crew specifically rocked the night fire. I love being on a gun crew and I love doing this kind of training." 

In February, the 249th was officially identified as a focused readiness unit and given a deadline of the end of June 2018 to meet the readiness standard. An FRU is a National Guard unit that has been placed at a higher state of readiness and will have a shorter time on the mobilization platform when called up. The unit must maintain this higher readiness level and status so that if called upon, the unit can mobilize and be deployed within 30 days. 

372nd CSSB hosts employer visit during annual training

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

372nd CSSB Hosts employer visit during annual training
Photo By Spc. Christina Clardy | Fort Hood, TEXAS -- Guardsmen with the 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, hosted an employers visitation day during their three week annual training June 22, 2018 at Fort Hood, Texas. About 30 employers visited their employee Guardsmen out in the field for a day of range tours, weapons demonstrations and an airborne jump as part of the Department of Defense's Employer Support for Guard and Reserve program. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers with the 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 36th Sustainment Brigade hosted an employer support of the guard and reserve visitation day during their annual training June 22, 2018.

About 30 employers visited their Texas Army National Guard employees out in the field for a day of range tours, weapons demonstrations and an airborne jump as part of the Department of Defense's ESGR program.

"I think it's great to bring the employers out to visit their employees and our Soldiers in the field," said Lt. Col. John Crawson, commander of the 36th Sustainment Brigade. "It’s important that they see that our Soldiers wear two hats - one as their civilian employee and one as a member of the National Guard serving their communities, their state and their country."

Some Soldiers invited not only employers, but peers from their civilian careers.

"I work for Liberty Mutual Insurance as a senior manager and today I invited other senior managers from different departments within my company," said Capt. Eric P. Amstutz, commander of the 112th Quartermaster Company, 372nd CSSB, out of Corsicana. "They wanted to come out because they have a strong interest in understanding what I do, seeing how we function in an army unit collectively, and how we task out Soldiers to do different events and how we conquer objectives."

Employer visits allow the Soldiers the opportunity to show their bosses and peers more of who they are and what they do when away for military duty.

"I'm also excited to get to show them the other side of me that they never get to see in our corporate world," said Amstutz. "So there is a corporate Eric and there is a Capt. Amstutz that's in the Army. I'm hoping they can see the differences and challenges of being an employee and Guardsmen, but I definitely hope they will be able to see the benefits that can come from both a civilian and a military career."

The employers were flown in by CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Grand Prairie and Austin, to the battalion’s tactical operations center, where they received a briefing about the unit, the Soldiers, the military equipment they use and an overview of recent past missions, such as the battalion's response and actions during Hurricane Harvey.

"We like to demonstrate some of our combat capabilities that we do in the field and showcase our ability to respond to a natural disaster here in the state to support our neighbors and our communities in Texas," said Crawson. "Our Soldiers and their employees are part of a bigger picture both in the national defense plan for the United States and how we support our neighbors and communities here in Texas.

After the briefing, the visitors went to a marksmanship rifle range. There they could climb inside gun-mounted trucks and talk to Soldiers about the static crew-served weapons that were on display. 

"I really appreciate getting to see service members show their expertise in their training and with all the equipment," said Kathleen Harman, a business and leadership professor at Norwich University and professional mediator in partnership with the ESGR. "I can really see now all the minutia that goes into every detail of all training for gunners and drivers inside the cabs of the military trucks."

Employers were allowed to go onto the rifle range to get a first-hand experience of what it takes to qualify with the weapons. Paired with an experienced Soldier, each visitor was given a lesson on safety and proper use of the M4 carbine, and then given the opportunity to fire the rifle in a mock weapons qualification scenario.

"Getting to fire the rifle on the range was fun, but what I really loved was getting to know some of the different Soldiers, hearing what they do and where they are from, and seeing what they do," said Harman. "You get to see and experience first-hand servant leadership through the ranks and through the different training aspects and missions. It's truly incredible."

The tour then moved to a range with an urban training town, nicknamed "shanty-towns," to watch a mounted gun-crew convoy exercise. In the exercise, the crews must react to contact with oppositional forces and respond to simulated crew injuries by calling in a casualty evacuation by helicopter. 

"I come from a really strong military family of three generations," said Harman. "It's really wonderful to see all the different layers of training and how things interplay together. The logistics, the team building, and all the activities in the training that have to happen, it just really makes me appreciate these Guardsmen and their service."

Following the exercise, the employers were taken to their final demonstration - an airborne jump by Soldiers from the 249th Quartermaster Company, 372nd CSSB, out of Fort Worth.

"I think every component of the whole program is really valuable," said Harman. "This experience has really given me a sense of appreciation for what service members go through and all their sacrifices for their training. I know I will be able to take back what I've seen and learned here today to be able to further assist and understand the National Guard and reserve Soldiers I work with."

Past Division Leaders Observe Annual Training Events

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Past Division leaders observe annual training events
Photo By Staff Sgt. Michael Giles | The 36th Infantry Division hosted a former senior leaders reunion during annual training on June 10, 2018 at Fort Hood, Texas. The event allowed past leaders to see the advancements in technology within the military and talk with soldiers about their past experiences in the service. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles, 36th Infantry Division)

The 36th Infantry Division hosted former senior leaders to showcase annual training events and brief them on current operations June 10, 2018.

The “Arrowhead Muster Day” allowed past division leaders the chance to meet with current Soldiers and observe the training being conducted during the summer months.

“It’s essential to invite the past leaders of the division out to see the current generation of citizen-Soldiers in action as they conduct collective training across Fort Hood,” said Maj. Gen. S. Lee Henry, the current commanding general of the 36th Inf. Div. “While these retired general officers and command sergeants major get the opportunity to see the transformations of training and technology, we get the benefit of learning from the tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge that they bring to the table.” 

Upon arriving at the division’s operation center, the visitors were flown by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to watch the 156th Brigade Engineer Battalion train on crew-served weapons at a mounted gunnery range. They had the opportunity to see the new technological advances the military is adapting for use on the battlefield in an effort to better protect Soldiers.

The group then boarded the aircraft again and were flown to the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s training area, where they were given a tour of the brigade’s operations center and the tactical action center.

“It’s a great opportunity to get back and see the division,” said Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Jim Bisson, who had served in the 36th Infantry Division as an assistant division commander of maneuver.

The distinguished guests then returned to the division’s operations center for an overview briefing with the commanding general and staff officers on recent accomplishments, current changes within the organization, and the future of the division. Among other operations, the briefing showcased the tremendous success of the division during Hurricane Harvey and current missions along the Texas-Mexico border.

“I really enjoyed the briefing about the unit’s participation during Hurricane Harvey and the involvement in programs where Active Duty U.S. Army units are partnering with National Guard units,” said Bisson, referring to the Associated Unit Pilot program, or AUP, in which the division is actively partnered with several units to include the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk, La.

The guests also attended a meet and greet with current Soldiers in the division, where they were able to share stories of their experiences serving in the "Texas Division" and enjoy a meal, ready to eat lunch.

“I hope the division continues to do get-togethers like this,” said Bisson. “I think it’s great to be able to keep up with what the unit is doing and see where it is heading in the future.”

Force-multiplying employer: Guard member's civilian employment helps medics stay certified

Story by: Staff Sgt. Michael Giles

Employer receives award for their support to National Guard employees.

Photo By Staff Sgt. Michael Giles | The 36th Infantry Division commanding general, Maj. Gen. S. Lee Henry, awarded Laura Mills, Ph.D., with the Austin Regional Clinic, for her support to her Arrowhead employee on June 9, 2018 during annual training at Fort Hood, Texas. Mills received the award for facilitating training for Capt. Judith Chedville, a medical provider with Company C, 949th Brigade Support Battalion of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to become a certified CPR instructor. The certification allows Chedville to be a force multiplier utilizing her skills to train both civilian medical professionals and National Guard medics. The division's annual training ensures Soldiers remain ready and relevant for any assigned mission at home and abroad. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

FORT HOOD, Texas - As Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, Laura Wills felt the way many Texans felt: She wanted to help. 

"I knew the Guard was being deployed," Wills said. "On a personal level, I didn't know what I could do to help with any of it."

Then, a colleague's request turned out to be an opportunity for her to support the Texas Army National Guard's readiness to respond to state emergencies and federal mobilizations.

The colleague was Judith Chedville, a clinical nursing specialist at Austin Regional Clinic, where Wills works as Chief Operations Officer. The request was whether their company could help her get certified as a basic lifesaver instructor. 

Chedville, who also works as a captain and medical provider in the Texas Guard's 36th Infantry Division, was among the 12,000 Guard members Governor Abbott called up in response to the hurricane. As she waited to receive mission details, she found herself thinking forward about the challenge of recertifying her unit's combat medics. This is a crucial task for Army medics--also known as “68 Whiskeys” as 68W is the designation of their military occupational specialty --because if their CPR certification expires, they become temporarily unqualified to function in their lifesaving roles.

"If they lose their CPR certification, they completely lose their ability to be a 68 Whiskey," Chedville said. "How can we make sure we're getting their training taken care of?" 

Chedville knew she could be part of the solution. All she needed to take on the task of recertifying her medics in CPR was to get certified as an instructor. So she submitted a request to her company.

This request was the opportunity to help that Wills had been looking for.

"When this came up, I felt like, I can figure this out," Wills said. "I contacted our staff development folks in our company who had the contacts for CPR training, and it honestly was not that hard. The company paid for it, and she was willing to do the work."

The company not only paid for it, but also managed her schedule so that she could the take necessary time away from seeing patients to complete the course.

Chedville explained that it's unusual for her company to pay for providers such has herself to receive basic lifesaver instructor training; more often they encourage ancillary staff to gain such accreditation. But Wills said she saw this as a way to support the troops, who during the Harvey relief efforts, proved they do good things with their training.

"Being in the medical field, I know how important basic CPR is, and even more so with people in the military service," Wills said. "You're out sometimes in remote areas and you have to be ready to care for the people around you."

Chedville thanked Wills for her support by nominating her for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program's Patriot Award. According to the program's website, the award recognizes "efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed." 

Chedville's nomination enabled her chain of command to recognize Wills' support. First, her unit, the medical company of the 949th Brigade Support Battalion, invited Wills to witness a day in the life of a military medical provider. On June 9, 2018, Wills headed to Fort Hood, where the 949th and several other elements of the 36th Infantry Division were conducting their annual training. She observed field medical operations and weapons training up close before the division commander, Maj. Gen. S. Lee Henry, presented the award and spoke to her about the National Guard and reserve forces.

"You absolutely represent a critical component of the National Guard relationship between our families, our employers and the Soldiers themselves," Henry said to Wills. "You are instrumental and we couldn’t do what we do out here without the support of people like you."

Henry also lauded the specific contribution she made, emphasizing that a training gift to an Army medic is a contribution made to all Soldiers. 

"We also couldn’t do what we do without our medics, who are critical to the mission of the 36th Infantry Division. They know no danger and go wherever there is a fallen Soldier to render aid on the spot. I know that I’m in good hands with our medics and you have been instrumental in their training and certification. Thank you very much for what you do and will continue to do."

Thus far, Chedville's new credential enabled her to recertify six combat medics in CPR. Wills said she intends to continue supporting her in strengthening her ability to meet this need in the Guard.

"I really look forward to seeing more of her training," Wills said and turned to Chedville. "Now we need to get you to the next level so you can train others to be trainers as well."

Texas Guardsmen task force members respond to South Texas floods

Story and Photos by: Spc. Miguel Ruiz, 100th MPAD

Members of the Texas National Guard and Texas Task Force 1 prepositioned in Laredo, Texas, June 20, 2018, after heavy rains flooded portions of the Rio Grande Valley. The two agencies work together to conduct rescues when needed. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Miguel Ruiz)
Members of the Texas National Guard and Texas Task Force 1 prepositioned in Laredo, Texas, June 20, 2018, after heavy rains flooded portions of the Rio Grande Valley. The two agencies work together to conduct rescues when needed. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Miguel Ruiz)

Texas Army National Guardsmen and members of Texas Task Force 1 were deployed to South Texas May 20, 2018.

In response to recent flooding in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, rescue swimmers with Texas Task Force 1 (Urban Search and Rescue Team) and TXANG helicopter pilots were mobilized jointly.

Both organizations normally work independently of each other but combine their assets and expertise when flood disasters occur said Anthony Di Marco, a rescue swimmer with TTF1.

“There are not water-rescue components in the National Guard. That’s where we come in,” said Di Marco. “They fly us to where we need to be and help get us in the water or to where the people are who need rescue. It’s a great working relationship.”

The working relationships between the pilots and swimmers are not developed overnight but rather are orchestrated and fine-tuned regularly.

Di Marco said he sets aside his full-time civilian career being a firefighter in Plano, Texas, once a month to train with TXANG helicopter pilots and TTF1 swimmers.

“We rehearse day-time and night-time rescue missions with Lakota and Blackhawk pilots,” said Di Marco. “The back and forth dialogue is great, we work closely together to determine the most efficient and safest ways of conducting the missions.”

Thanks to consistent training and set-in-place contingency plans, mission-readiness is very high when disasters occur said Texas Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Briggs, a Standardization Instructor Pilot of Bravo company, 1-114th Aviation Regiment – Security and Support.

Briggs said that at any given time he, his helicopter crew and TTF1 swimmers can be ready to fly to wherever they are needed within three hours of receiving the call to duty.

“We didn’t have these same capabilities over five years ago,” said Briggs. “Local governments now have in place very specific mission-ready packages put together by the Texas Military Department. Local officials now know exactly how many of what assets are available to them at any given time of need.”

Briggs said what sets the TXARNG apart from other components of the military is its ability to work more closely with Texas’ local governments and organizations such as TTF1 to establish disaster contingency plans.

“It’s our job to be able to respond to events as quickly as possible,” said Briggs. “We are always ready.”

Illinois National Guardsmen lead Texas National Guard Counterdrug Civil OPS training

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Photo By 1st Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura | Sgt. Eilleen Lacy, NCOIC of Chicago Civil Operations instructs Texas National Guard criminal analysts on how to establish evidence of effectiveness when helping coalitions and CBOs create an action plan to address prevention of drug use at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, June 12-14,2018.

AUSTIN , TX, UNITED STATES

06.21.2018

Story by 1st Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura

Texas Army National Guard (Texas Military Forces)

By: 1st Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura, Texas Military Department

 

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas National Guard Counterdrug Criminal Analysts participated in a three-day in-depth overview of civil operations, led by Illinois National Guard Counterdrug Civil Operators, at Camp Mabry, June 12-14, 2018.

Soldiers and Airmen from all corners of Texas displayed pride for their home communities and eagerly sought advice from Illinois National Guard Civil Operators on how to best impact their area of operation.

“I would like people to begin to look at things through other lenses,” said Sgt. Eilleen Lacy, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Chicago Civil Operations. “Typically in the community and in counterdrug we look at disruption and interdiction from a criminal analyst perspective, but we need to start looking at this from a community level. We need to start taking community health and wellness into consideration.”

The role of a Civil Operator is to coach, train, facilitate, coordinate, lead and support coalitions and community-based organizations to make community change. This change directly impacts high-intensity drug trafficking areas, Lacy explained during the civil ops pre-training.

The 20 Soldiers and Airmen selected to attend the class work as criminal analysts in the Texas Counterdrug program and will take on the responsibility of being the Civil Operators in their area of operation as an additional duty.

“Knowing your area of operation, not just from a law enforcement standpoint, but from past pertinent history will help you get to the root or cause of the problem,” Lacy said.

Lacy, who shared her experiences as a Civil Operator in Chicago, encouraged participants to become familiar with their communities by learning who their community stakeholders are and capitalizing on local resources, like librarians.

“The more proficient Civil Operators are in their abilities to provide technical assistance in the planning process, the larger impact the coalitions will have in their community,” Lacy explained.

In addition to familiarizing themselves with the community, Soldiers and Airmen will implement resources by studying threats, trends and evidence-based data from organizations like the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Disease Control and Prevention as prescribed by the National Guard Bureau and the Department of Defense.

Soldiers and Airmen will also use SAMSHA’s Strategic Prevention Framework to help enable coalitions to tackle their mission from several fronts. The SPF is a seven-step process that includes: assessing the area of operation’s needs and readiness, building the capacity to realistically address the needs, planning, implementing, evaluating and ensuring cultural competence and sustainability.

The training also addressed other concepts, like methods of research, grant writing, prevention science, sustainability and culture compatibility.

Illinois National Guard Counterdrug didn’t hesitate to extend itself as an additional resource to the Texas National Guard Counterdrug program.

“Illinois [National Guard] has a very robust Civil Operations Program,” said Maj. David Spanton, Texas National Guard Civil Operations Program Manager. “Col. Miguel Torres [Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Commander] thought it was important to get the training to our Soldiers and Airmen as fast as possible, with the best subject matter experts, and Illinois was excited to help out Texans and start making a change immediately.”

The Illinois Guardsmen attributed their expertise in civil operations to their Counterdrug Commander, Capt. Alison Jacobs.

“She recognizes the mission and makes sure that she remains knowledgeable about policy, best practices and prevention,” Lacy said. “She recognizes that prevention is an important part of the mission and that we should be working simultaneously on both sides of that coin.”

Maj. Travis Urbanek, Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force Region North Commander, and one of the Soldiers spearheading the statewide civil operations initiative in Texas, agreed with Jacobs’ sentiment.

“This will allow us to approach the drug issue from two fronts,” Urbanek said. “Right now, our approach has been attacking the drug issue from the law enforcement side, but as long as there continues to be a demand for drugs the suppliers will find ways to get them to people who want to buy it.”

Following the initial training, Soldiers and Airmen must pass two phases of training in order to qualify as civil operators and acquire their civil operations additional skill identifier.

Soldiers voiced their eagerness throughout the training to begin working in their respective communities.

Passionate and inspired by over a decade of volunteering for youth and community organizations herself, Lacy mirrored the group’s enthusiasm.

“It’s something that needs to be done on the community level,” Lacy added. “The way we look at civil operations and prevention is that if we do it right, we will do ourselves out of a job – and I accept that challenge.”

Story by: 1st Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura, Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force Public Affairs

Texas First Battalion Deploys to Africa

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Photo By Master Sgt. Michael Leslie | The 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment of the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard held a deployment ceremony on April 16, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Task Force Alamo is set to deploy to the Horn of Africa to take over duties from their Texas sister, the 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment of the 56th IBCT. Friends and family said farewell for the unit set to deploy later this month. (Texas Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs) 

SAN ANTONIO, TX, UNITED STATES

05.16.2018

Story by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie

36th Infantry Division (TXARNG)

 

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – “This is a historic unit,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, Assistant Division Commander – Operations of the 36th Infantry Division, “Task Force Alamo is aptly named. It traces its lineage back to when Texas was still just a Republic, fighting for its own independence.”

The Texas Army National Guard’s oldest unit, dating back to 1823, the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment of the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conducted a deployment ceremony May 16, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston. The battalion is preparing to deploy to the Horn of Africa, partnering with more than ten nations to promote regional stability and prosperity.

“This is a vitally important mission,” said Hamilton. “All people are created equal, and we are defending that freedom around the world, so it is critical that we do a great job in helping the countries that we’re going.”

Hundreds of family members were in attendance to see their Soldiers off and show their support.

“Although your Soldiers wear the uniforms,” said Col. Rodrigo Gonzalez, the commander of the 72nd IBCT, “You also serve with them in your capacity as a family member and you wear the uniform in your heart.”

This will be the last time that Soldiers will see their families for the coming year and Maj Sean Ibarguen, commander of the battalion, addresses that hardship.

“For some, the toughest timeframe of the deployment is upon us and that is moving toward the final goodbye,” said Ibarguen. “Soon your Soldier will return home and the joy of that return will eclipse the sadness of saying goodbye in the coming days.”

The 12-year-old daughter of the battalion commander gave him advice on a painted rock to carry with him on his deployment that he passed along to his Soldiers that “time flies.”

“It may not feel like it right now, but time does fly and it will fly moving forward,” said Ibarguen. “We will be back in the Lone Star State before you know it.”

Texas Army National Guard Green Berets mentor U.S., Albanian and Lithuanian forces during Allied Spirit VIII

Photo By Sgt. Karen Sampson | Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces (KASP) conduct familiarization with pyrotechnics to be used while acting as Observer-Coach-Trainers ahead of Allied Spirit VIII at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, January 19, 2018. Allied Spirit VIII was a multinational exercise which integrated special operation forces and conventional forces from ten nations, improving combined interoperability and interdependence. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Karen Sampson)

TX, UNITED STATES

05.01.2018

Story by Sgt. Karen Sampson

U.S. Special Operations Command Europe

 

Allied Spirit was a multinational exercise involving approximately 4,100 participants from 10 nations at 7th Army Training Command’s Hohenfels Training Area. The U.S. Army Europe-directed multinational exercise series Allied Spirit is designed to develop and enhance NATO and key partner’s interoperability and readiness.

The Texas Army National Guardsmen from 19th SFG(A) augmented the OCT team from U.S. Special Operations Command Europe and the JMRC Special Operations Forces Cell. OCTs acted as on-the-ground trainers supporting SOF and conventional forces during training exercise Allied Spirit VIII conducted January 15 through February 5.

The 19th SFG(A) team mentored a diverse group including U.S. SOF assigned to 1st SFG(A), Albanian SOF, and the Lithuanian National Defence Force Volunteers (KASP).

“Being an OCT assisting in unit tactical development, bridging the units together and integrating them into action was a great experience,” said a 19th SFG(A) team sergeant. “Everyone gained from completing the exercise.”

The Texas-based Green Berets were particularly impressed by the performance of their Lithuanian Allies. 
“Lithuania’s KASP trained smart, were decisive and their tactics were sound,” said the team sergeant.
The opportunity to observe and train other U.S. Special Forces Soldiers provided a training opportunity for the 19th SFG(A) OCTs, challenging them to remain experts in their doctrine.

“We drew upon their knowledge of Unconventional Warfare from the Special Forces Qualification Course and combined it with the training and deployment experience to provide training feedback to [the ODA from 1st SFG(A)],” said the 19th SFG(A) officer in charge of operations.

TXARNG OCTs reinforced the concept of “free play” during Allied Spirit VIII to the greatest extent possible to meet the rotational training unit’s training objectives.

“This experience was worthwhile as a guest OCT because you get to evaluate another unit's tactical training and standard operations and witness what works for them,” said the operations OIC. “As a Special Forces Soldier, observing a [team] from another group gives you the perspective they have from their area of responsibility and strengthens your unit\s repertoire.”

Texas Guardsmen improve disaster response skills in Slovakia

By Staff Sgt. Steven Smith

Texas Army National Guard

April 30, 2018

 

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Texas Army National Guard engineers from the 836h Engineer Company, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, work alongside soldiers from the Indiana National Guard, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in support of Operation Toxic Lance, a search and rescue exercise involving a chemical warfare scenario, March 12-23, 2018, at Training Area Lest in central Slovakia. The soldiers were brought together as part of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program that focuses on building interoperability and strengthening international relationships through military-to-military exchanges. (Photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Texas Army National Guard engineers from the 836h Engineer Company, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, work alongside soldiers from the Indiana National Guard, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in support of Operation Toxic Lance, a search and rescue exercise involving a chemical warfare scenario, March 12-23, 2018, at Training Area Lest in central Slovakia. The soldiers were brought together as part of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program that focuses on building interoperability and strengthening international relationships through military-to-military exchanges.

Texas Army National Guard engineers from the 836h Engineer Company, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, work alongside soldiers from the Indiana National Guard, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in support of Operation Toxic Lance, a search and rescue exercise involving a chemical warfare scenario, March 12-23, 2018, at Training Area Lest in central Slovakia. The soldiers were brought together as part of the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program that focuses on building interoperability and strengthening international relationships through military-to-military exchanges. (Photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

TRAINING AREA LEST, Slovakia – Seventeen Texas Army National Guard engineers from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade's 836th Engineer Company provided search and rescue support and participated recently in a multinational exercise, Operation Toxic Lance, at this site in central Slovakia.

The operation, which ran March 12-23, brought together chemical and engineer-trained Soldiers from the Texas and Indiana Army National Guards as well as the Slovakian and Czech Republic militaries, as part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program that focuses on building interoperability and strengthening international relationships through military-to-military exchanges.

The Texas-based Soldiers are search and rescue qualified and provide real-world response to FEMA Region VI as one part of the Texas-run Homeland Response Force, under the command of the 136th.

The purpose of this exercise was to participate with and to demonstrate search and rescue skillsets to partnered service members in the Slovakian and Czech Republic military chemical response units.

"We do not have any type of search and rescue units, or soldiers trained in that discipline here in the Slovak army," said Lt. Col. Oliver Toderiska, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Battalion commander for the Slovakian army. "Seeing the Texas Soldiers integrated with our chemical response teams, working hand in hand with our own soldiers shows us how we could also use search and rescue."

While Texas brought refined search and rescue skills, techniques and procedures to the exercise to share with their partners, their Slovakian allies brought experienced chemical experts to share training and response procedures.

The Texas search and rescue team has trained countless hours on simulated exercises, involving scenarios such as accidental and terrorism themed mass explosions, radiation threats and hazardous chemicals. But the main effort during Operation Toxic Lance was a chemical weapons threat and each day a new scenario was presented around that threat forcing Soldiers to respond to new challenges.

One scenario presented a lab, run by a terrorist organization that manufactured chemical weapons and released a chemical.

"We've worked a lot with how to perform in and mitigate radiation threats, but we haven't spent a lot of time on weaponized chemical agents," said Sgt. Myles Merriweather, Texas Army National Guard search and rescue team member. "We can take what we've learned here and use it to establish our own (processes) back home."

Each service member involved in Operation Toxic Lance went through a scenario where a live chemical agent was used. For most of the engineers who are certified in search and rescue, this this was the first time they were exposed to a live chemical agent. The exercise built confidence in their equipment, proved the concept of proper decontamination and showed the importance of technical proficiency in a chemical environment.

"The Texas Soldiers have come a long way since they first arrived," said Slovakian Army Capt. Labraska, doctor of chemistry for the Slovak unit, speaking on the Texas National Guard Soldiers' ability to adapt to new tactics, techniques and procedures.

The Slovak army has state of the art chemical labs, reconnaissance vehicles, equipment, agents and they are subject-matter experts in combating chemical warfare, but have no formal training in search and rescue disciplines.

With the increased threat of terrorism throughout the globe, the Slovak chemical unit is studying how to improve rapid mobilization, response operations and augment rescue efforts in a chemical attack, should that day ever come.

"The Slovak military doesn't usually practice with its local first responders, nor is there a procedure in place for it, but luckily that's something that our task force does very well," said one of the Texas Guard members serving as a search and rescue evaluator for the exercise. "What makes our organization so good at working with any entity and in operational constraints is that we will augment the efforts on the ground and provide whatever support the incident commander needs. Even though we are a military unit, we don't take over an event, we provide the most good for the most people in whatever capacity we're needed."

Texas Guard members discussed these methods at the National Slovakia Emergency Response Conference, as well as, Slovak Lt. Gen. Pavel Macko, the deputy chief of defense, British Gen. Andrew Garth serving as the military attaché to Slovakia, and a group of military command staff comprised of leaders from several other countries.

"I don't know how you Guard Soldiers do it," Garth remarked. "How you're able to have a combat military specialty and also find the time to train on a completely different task such as this, as complicated as this, and be proficient, is beyond me."

Participating in Operation Toxic Lance was a huge endeavor for the Texas Soldiers involved, every day putting on a chemical suit and mask while conducting physically demanding complex search and rescue operations. But the end result was an experience that was once in a military career.

"The training gave me a new perspective on how search and rescue operations can integrate into chemical reconnaissance" said Spc. Katty Gracia, chemical noncommissioned officer for the 836th Engineer Company. "Even with a language barrier, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a common goal and the right motivation."