Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

One last honor

Austin, Texas


Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Texas Military Department

Service members on the Texas Military Department's Military Funeral honors team prepare to issue a three volley salute during the funeral of a U.S. veteran. (Photo courtesy of Texas Military Funeral Honors)

Memorial Day is a federal holiday to remember those that have died while serving. For most people this means a day off work and a good reason to fire up the grill and spend time with friends and family.

For the Texas National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Team, Memorial Day comes every day — only barbecue is not included. 

“We are there at the moment when the family suffers the loss of their loved one who has passed away,” said Jim Levine Jr., Military Funeral Honors State Coordinator. “We are the last living representation of the military. It’s us honoring their service every day.”

This long-standing military custom dates back to World War I, and until recently, services were only provided when manpower was available. In 2001, the National Defense Authorization Act passed a law that mandated the United States Armed Forces provide the rendering of honors in a military funeral for any eligible veteran.

“All family members want military funeral honors, they want to see that flag being folded and the sound of the trumpet, that is closure for the family,” said Ricky Williams, memorial affairs coordinator, at Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

The family member or next-of-kin of the veteran must request honors through their funeral director. The funeral director then contacts the appropriate military service to arrange for the funeral honors detail.

Most Texas veteran memorial requests are processed through the casualty assistance office of Fort Sam.

“We cover everyone from Buda to Mexico and Beaumont to El Paso, active duty, reserves and National Guard,” said Williams. “We average 2,250 services a year.”

Williams assigns the services to Military Funeral Honor teams based on their component, area of responsibility and availability. In instances where active duty teams are over tasked, Texas guardsmen can honor any veteran in Texas.

“We depend on the Texas National Guard to help us make the family happy by coming out and performing funeral honors because we don’t have the manpower without them,” said Williams.

Recently, the team conducted a joint memorial service to honor a veteran from the Tuskegee Air Force.

“We did a joint service for a Tuskegee Airmen from WWII with the Air Force,” said Levine. “Since he was a pilot in the Tuskegee Air Force, we were able to do that with him. The Air Force did the flag folding we did the firing party, it was a great deal.”

The Texas Honor Guard has approximately 14 full-time Soldiers and 25 traditional Guardsmen. Regardless of the veteran’s military branch, Texas Guardsmen treat every service with honor and respect.

“It’s an honor for me to do this,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Jonathan Strother, assistant team leader for Military Funeral Honors. “Whether they served in Vietnam, WWII or whatever era that they served, we want to leave a lasting impression of our sincerity and appreciation for their veterans services.”

Strother joined the team in 2011 as a bugler and worked his way up to an assistant team lead. He is the first Texas Guardsmen to perform nearly 1,900 services.

His leadership role allows him to instill his knowledge and expertise to incoming Soldiers.

“What I tell the young Soldiers coming in is be professional, this is not an easy job, we are on call seven days a week and we don’t usually get weekends off,” said Strother. “It is a very stressful job dealing with death and the families, but it is a very rewarding in the same sense.”

Through the military funeral honors program, Texas Guardsmen are able to share their passion of providing the family one last military honor.

“The family sometimes doesn’t see the honor behind their veterans’ service, they just know that he/she sacrifices; they are gone a lot and they deploy a lot,” said Levine. “But when they see our guys at the funeral, doing the flag folding, presenting the flag, playing the taps, we are honoring their service so therefore, for the family we are honoring their sacrifice.” 

As you celebrate your Memorial Day this year, please take a moment to remember those that have given their lives for our freedom, and their families still here.

TMD Readies For Hurricane Season

Photo By Sgt. Mark Otte | Lt. Col. Robert Eason, Operations Director at the Texas Military Department, explains the planning and coordination of Texas Military Department's assets integration into a statewide plan at the annual Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept drill at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas May, 10th, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Mark Otte.)



Story by Sgt. Mark Otte 

Texas Military Department  


AUSTIN, Texas--The Texas Military Department, May 10, 2017, hosted its annual interagency Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept drill at Camp Mabry in Austin.

Each year the Texas Military Department Domestic Operations Task Force invites its emergency-response partners from around the state to Camp Mabry for a walk through of the interagency-plan to integrate the TMD’s assets into a hurricane response, should one hit Texas. During the drill representatives of each agency described their responsibilities at each phase of the 120-hour statewide response to a fictional hurricane's looming landfall, this time in Houston. 

Representatives from around a dozen agencies attended the forum, including Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Task Force 1, the Texas Army and Air National Guard as well as officials from local agencies.

"Revising our plan, sharing lessons learned, implementing new tools and refining our processes helps maintain a relevant and ready force," said Maj. Matthew Combs, J7 Director for the Texas Military Department. "Working with our partners establishes a relationship that builds trust and reliability, ensuring that the citizens of our great state have the best when they need it the most."

Part of the Texas Military Department's hurricane response is to quickly transform its standing battle-ready units into smaller more efficient groups that can more effectively address the needs of Texas citizens in a time of crisis. These Mission Ready Packages can rapidly be dispersed around the state when requested by local entities. Packages include equipment, like aviation assets, that make life-saving rescues possible in locations that might not have been, using only local equipment.

The Texas Military Department has developed these Mission Ready Packages through its ongoing operations around the state.

Texas Adjutant General, Major General John F. Nichols reviews the state's plan for a hurricane with Texas agency leaders at the Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept drill at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, May 10, 2017. The H-ROC drill brings together all the agencies involved in hurricane response in Texas for a walk though of the state's plan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Mark Otte/Released)

"I am often asked why we use Mission Ready Packages instead of sending the entire military units," said Maj. Gen John F. Nichols, The Adjutant General for Texas. "Over the past 13 years, with over 586,000 man-days across 230 different support missions, we have learned that an entire unit organized for military operations is not always the most efficient or effective for a domestic response."

One of the major obstacles that officials sought to address was the explosive growth around Houston. Because of that growth, more high-water rescue assets may be needed to rescue the additional citizens living in newly developed areas. Planners at the meeting said that the Texas Military Department has the equipment needed to perform the rescues, but that maintaining current maps of those areas at a high risk of flooding should be a priority.

The drill is just one step in the state's ongoing commitment to hurricane response preparedness. Prior to May’s event a tabletop exercise was completed, and in June a full-scale statewide response to another fictitious hurricane will be the final dress rehearsal before the 2017 hurricane season gets into full swing.

The last major hurricane strike in Texas was in 2008 when hurricane Ike, a category 2 hurricane, made landfall in Galveston. Then Governor, Rick Perry, authorized 7500 troops to be mobilized to the area in response to that storm.

Exercise Cyber Shield 17 Tests 102nd Information Operations Battalion Soldiers



Story by Maj. Ray McCulloch 

102nd Information Operations Battalion  


Members of the Texas Army National Guard and Air National Guard participated in a major network defense exercise at Camp Williams in Utah from April 17 to May 5, 2017.

Members of the Texas Army National Guard’s 102nd Information Operations Battalion and the Texas Air National Guard’s 273rd Information Operations Squadron participated in Exercise Cyber Shield 17, the Army National Guard’s premier cyber defense exercise.

The exercise, which included members of the National Guard from 44 states and territories, the U.S. Army Reserve, state and federal government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private industry, was designed to enhance participants’ ability to respond to cyber incidents.

Cyber Shield 17 kicked off with a week of training and preparation that culminated in a scenario-based cyber roleplay during the second week. This was the sixth iteration of the exercise.

Participants were broken up into several groups, or “cells,” for the exercise.

Red Cell members simulated hostile hackers attempting to compromise a computer network, while members of the Blue Cell attempted to defend their networks against the Red Cell’s attacks. The Gold Cell supported the Blue Cell members with coaching and mentorship, while White Cell members evaluated the Blue Cell’s performance.

Members of the 102nd IO Battalion served on the blue and red teams. Other battalion Soldiers provided network management to support the exercise and served in the fusion center. According to a Department of Homeland Security handout, fusion centers are owned by state and local governments and operate with federal support. Their mission is to “provide multidisciplinary expertise and situational awareness to inform decision making at all levels of government.”

Red team members, such as Sgt. 1st Class Jon Wachter, play the role of adversary hackers or the opposing forces. In IT, that would be someone hacking into the network.

“Our main job is to train the blue team,” Wachter stated. That training included exploiting vulnerabilities to pivot or maneuver through their networks.

“We find gaps in their systems in order to exploit vulnerabilities and establish a stronger foothold into the IT terrain to ultimately gain control of systems, networks, or infrastructure,” Wachter said. “We try not to hamstring them so that there is some learning value for the blue team.”

For example, Wachter and his team took control of the administrative password, which would have completely shut down the training for the Blue Team. After an hour, they gave the Blue Team their password back so they could reestablish control of their networks.

Wachter was a team member assigned to the Indiana Red Team. He played the part of a hacker and an insider threat to Indiana’s IT infrastructure. His team stole fictitious personal identifiable information, defaced websites and attempted to disrupt business processes. In general, they created havoc on the network and systems used by the Indiana Blue Team and their mission partners.

“I wasn’t expecting them to bring so much skill to the table; they had a lot of talent here. It was definitely challenging for me, us,” he said. “They actually have a lot of people on this team who do this for their civilian careers as well, so they had a huge advantage!”

Wachter also stated that this exercise helped him network with a variety of very intelligent individuals and learn from their skills and experiences. “I was also able to observe the Blue Team and take away tips, techniques and procedures from them. That was the big lesson for me,” he said.

On the other side of the exercise were the Blue Teams. Blue Teams are state-affiliated National Guard and mission partners who must react to a cyber incident in the exercise. Ultimately, they are charged with expelling the adversary Red Team from their network.

For Texas, this included Staff Sgt. Brian Jones. Jones is an intelligence analyst from the 102nd IO Battalion attached to the Texas Cyber Protection Team for this exercise. He provided embedded intelligence support to the Blue Team operators, including predictive analysis, intelligence summaries and disseminated information on known threats passed from the fusion cell.

“Cyber Shield 17 is a training exercise developed to enhance the skills of the Blue Team in order to defend the operational environment – or the friendly networks – from the adversary’s cyberattacks,” said Jones.

According to Jones, information flow was the most difficult task. That included between governmental agencies at the state and national levels, as well as between Army National Guard, Air National Guard and civilian mission partners. Understanding how intelligence flows between components of the Texas National Guard was an integral part to the success of the Texas Blue Team.

This was an excellent opportunity for them to experience the reality of communications shortfalls between mission partners, the National Guard and the U.S. government agencies according to Jones. “It’s definitely a challenge, but we are working through it really well.”

The provided training facilitated the Blue Team’s ability to identify indicators of compromise in the network. Indicators are “observables” that there may be an intrusion in the system – like malware, phishing or unauthorized access.

“This exercise was a great opportunity to work with multiple [mission partners] in a group effort of incident response to take back a compromised network that we have been called in to defend,” Jones emphasized.

Mission partners that participated in Cyber Shield this year included federal agencies such as the FBI and DHS, state departments of justice, as well as private companies such as Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Monsanto. The Army and Air National Guards – in coordination with federal agencies – worked with civilian mission partners to resolve issues on their networks. 

The lessons learned here are vitally important moving forward to defend state infrastructure and networks from cyber threats, cyberattacks and other cyber incidents. “What we learn here makes us more effective communicators in the future. I’ve learned so much from this exercise,” Jones said.

Cyber Shield 17 offers opportunity for interagency cooperation

Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Sean Cochran with the Missouri Cyber Team, Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Rollings, with the Texas Cyber Protection Team, and Ryan Valencik, a Penetration Tester at Leidos, Inc., prepare to engage in cyber attacks as Red Cell members in Cyber Shield 17 at Camp Williams, Utah, April 26, 2017. The National Guard is working closely with its interagency partners and the private sector to strengthen network cyber-security and capabilities to support local responses to cyber incidents in Cyber Shield 17. (U.S. Army National Guard photos by Sgt. Michael Giles)



Photo by: Sgt. Michael Giles

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment


“It’s the best job in the military,” Capt. Joshua Montgomery, a member of an Air National Guard team that tests cyber defense elements, enthused. “We get to break things. We get to go and do all of the things that would send you to jail in the real world. It’s fantastic.”

Montgomery is not a criminal, but he plays one for the Guard. As a member of the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, Montgomery tests cyber defense capabilities by attempting to hack into sensitive information systems. 

“The idea of an information aggressor squadron is to understand the tactics that real-world adversaries—like hackers and corporate espionage agents—use,” Montgomery explained. He then uses that understanding to find network vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Montgomery is preparing to put his hacking skills to use as a member of the Red Cell during Cyber Shield 17, a cyber defense exercise being held at Camp Williams, Utah, April 24 to May 5, 2017.

Cyber Shield 17 is a National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve event that begins with a week of training and preparation and culminates in a scenario-based cyber role-play. It is the sixth iteration of the exercise, which began in 2012, and trains members the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and Army Reserve, as well as civilians who work in law enforcement, intelligence and information technologies. 

Participants belong to one of several cells. Red Cell members, such as Montgomery, play the role of adversary hackers. Members of the Blue Cell attempt to defend against the Red Cell’s attacks. Members of the Gold Cell support the Blue Cell with coaching and mentorship, while White Cell members evaluate the Blue Cell’s performance.

As Red Cell members prepare to break into Blue Cell systems, their opposite numbers prepare for an experience that Blue Cell leader Maj. Kevin T. Mamula predicts will push them to their limits. 

“The blue teams will be challenged to their breaking points by design,” said Mamula, who also works as the cyber network defense team lead for Ohio. “They will be stressed and frustrated and mad. But they will come out as a much more effective team.”

Exercise participants emphasized that the threat that cyber attacks pose make this kind of challenging training crucial.

“Cyber threats are real,” said Capt. Joshua Hull, from the Nebraska Joint Force Headquarters, who serves as assistant leader for the Nebraska Blue Team in Cyber Shield 17. “They are already all around us, and they affect every aspect of our daily interactions.”

Hull said he is confident that his team will be able to succeed in warding off the Red Cell attacks thanks to effective collaboration he has observed among his comrades.

“We have very good team cohesion,” Hull said. “We have a very good flow of information and we’ve pulled our best and brightest. They have a good understanding of how network operations work.”

As Blue Cell fights an uphill battle in the cyber terrain, they will have the Gold Cell’s support. Lt. Col. Brad Rhodes, Gold Cell leader and commander of the Colorado Army National Guard’s Cyber Protection Team 174, said his team will provide struggling Blue Cell members with coaching and mentorship to help them learn and succeed.

“Our goal is that when the blue teams walk out of the door, they are feeling better about themselves and are more successful than when they first got here,” Rhodes said.

Red Cell leader Air National Guard Maj. Michael Ehrstein, who supervises the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, said that Cyber Shield 17 fosters a learning environment by putting people of different backgrounds and levels of skill together. 

“People who’ve never done this before get one-on-one dedicated interactions with individuals who’ve been doing this 15-plus years,” Ehrstein said. “We are able to bring together experts from DoD, the government and the civilian world in one place and share that diverse perspective on cyberspace.”

“I’m very excited about being on a red team,” said Flo R. Bayer, a security analyst with the State of Wisconsin Department of Enterprise Technologies. “To see how hackers do things, their methodologies, will help me be better at defending the networks.” 

“You don’t get an opportunity to learn from a group of people like this often, to apply this skill set often,” said Adam Hellmers, an electrical engineer with Radiance Technologies. “It’s a chance to develop higher skills and to further enhance your own self, your company’s self and the national interests.” 

“The 2017 Cyber Shield exercise is far and away the best exercise I have ever encountered in my career,” Montgomery said. “It’s well organized; it’s well put together. And the teams, both red and blue, have made significant progress in securing DOD systems.”

Living history honors 75th Anniversary of WWII, 100th Anniversary of 36th ID

Courtesy Photo | Spectators experience living history as they watch U.S. and German Soldier re-enactors simulate a gunfight from World War II during a living history war reenactment at the Texas Military Department Open House and American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, April 22, 2017. The reenacting groups demonstrate how battles were fought in the European theater in honor of those who served and those who sacrificed their lives there by keeping the history and the era alive through living history. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the United States' entry into World War II and the 100th Anniversary of the 36th Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)



Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Texas Military Department


AUSTIN, Texas -- Friends and families attended the annual Texas Military Department Open House and American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry in Austin, April 22-23, 2017. 

A major focus this year is the living history aspect as this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the United States' entry into World War II and the 100th Anniversary of the 36th Infantry Division. 

The event hosted numerous living history groups and re-enactment units from the Civil War to World War II, including a re-enactment group of 36th ID Soldiers. In the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, the World War II groups joined together to create a large, simulated battle scene for spectators. As the German Army dug into their trenches, their tank and personnel track- carrier patrol came under fire. An assault force of U.S. Soldiers ambushed the patrol and pushed forward to capture the German line. The crowd-pleasing show featured simulated tank, artillery and grenade pyrotechnic simulators and blank-cartridge gunfire.

Shane Meyers, a 36th ID World War II re-enactor with Company G, believes that while re-enacting is fun, he sees it as an important way to give back and remember history.

"This gives us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it was like in combat in previous wars," said Meyers, who is also currently a staff sergeant in the modern-day 36th ID of the Texas Army National Guard. "Keeping the history alive is our way of honoring those who served and those who sacrificed everything for us."

The Texas Military Forces Museum, which is dedicated to gathering, protecting and sharing the history of the military forces in Texas, also supports the Co. G, 36th Inf. Div. re-enactment group. Located on Camp Mabry, the museum hosts a battle re-enactment for the TMD Open House and American Heroes Air Show every year. 

Members of the 4th and 6th Texas Infantry Regiment Civil War re-enactment group are also dedicated to preserving the history of Texas and it's military forces.

"Everything is bigger in Texas, including the history of the military forces of Texas," said Quartermaster Sgt. Bobby Moore, a re-enactor with Company K of the 6th Texas Inf. Reg. "And if you don't remember history, you lose it."

The history of the 36th ID spans over a hundred years. Born July 18, 1917, Texas and Oklahoma National Guard units were merged together in reaction to the U.S. entering World War I. The historic T-Patch unit insignia was created with a "T" for Texas on an infantry blue Arrowhead representing Oklahoma. 

They arrived in Europe in July 1918 and were involved in major operations in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The T-Patchers were mobilized again, this time in 1940 for World War II, and spearheaded the Allied Forces assault landing in Salerno, Italy on Sept. 9, 1943. The 36th ID was the first American division to land on the European continent. The division was instrumental in pushing the Axis-aligned Italian Army up through the Italian Peninsula liberating cities such as Cassino, Salerno, Velletri and Rome along the way. During World War II, 14 members of the T-Patch division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courageous actions.

After returning to U.S. after World War II, the 36th ID was permanently attached under the Texas Army National Guard. Since then, the unit has been serving the people of Texas by responding to domestic emergencies, mobilizing in support of national and overseas combat operations, and participating in joint partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to include disaster relief and response, emergency preparedness, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and security assistance on some aspects of border security.

The 36th ID continues to participate in military and community activities throughout the state to celebrate and honor the 100-year history of the division throughout 2017.

Camp Mabry Continues History of Community Involvement

Photo By Sgt. Mark Otte | Kids watch WWII re-enactment at Texas Military Department Open House And American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt Mark Otte, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)



Story by: Sgt. Mark Otte

Texas Military Department

AUSTIN, Texas - Anyone who has ever traveled Austin’s MOPAC highway has inevitably become mired in the bumper-to- bumper traffic and hoped for a hero to rescue them. And then there it is; the imposing F-4 Phantom fighter jet, pointed toward downtown, nose up and about to take flight.

The aircraft, a welcome and interesting change of scenery for morning commuters and kids strapped in their car seats, is part of Camp Mabry's static aviation display, which may be the most recognizable part of the installation, but only begins to tell the post's story.

Initially, the space was little more than an 85-acre campsite, donated in 1892 by local citizens, at the urging of its future namesake, Brigadier General Woodford H. Mabry; in an attempt to professionalize the Texas Volunteer Guard. The new plot of land provided a place for those Soldiers to train for two weeks in the summer time.

During those weeks the community would make the trip out to the country to watch the mock battles and demonstrations the Soldiers would conduct. Those public displays are a tradition that continues today.

"You have to remember they didn't have TV, radio or internet," said Jeff Hunt, Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum. "So people going out to see military dress parades, drills and demonstrations, that was a form of entertainment."

As Austin has grown around the camp, so have the events hosted for the community. The Annual Texas Military Department Open House and American Heroes’ Airshow draws thousands to the post for battle re-enactments and helicopter demonstrations. The event also hosts local police, fire and rescue organizations.

The now 375-acre site that houses the Texas Military Department continues to serve the community that surrounds it. From Boy Scout campouts, 5K road races or historic-themed galas, Central Texans have shared the space since its inception in the 1800s. Lt. Col. Paul Mancuso, Camp Mabry Garrison Commander, said that while the open house is the largest public draw to the post, Mabry welcomes a host of other local organizations throughout the year.

"Because we have this beautiful facility, we have the ability to allow some nonprofits to come and do fund raisers and host events," Mancuso said. "It allows us to support those organizations that are in our local community, and lets our neighbors come out and see how beautiful Mabry is."

In 1992 the post converted a building designed as a mess hall in 1918 into the Texas Military Forces Museum. The almost 26,000 square feet of display space now house relics that date back to 1823 all the way to the present. Each item on display is used to help tell the story of the Texas military forces to youngsters and veterans a like.

Camp Mabry is an open installation so the community can come enjoy the 1-mile track or the catch-and-release fishing pond. Currently in the planning stages, the post will soon add a 5-mile hike-and-bike trail, with the help of Boy Scout Troop 1407.

"We will help clear the brush and make the trail," said Tyler Broz, a scout with the troop. "We will provide as much of the labor as we can."

For over 100 years Camp Mabry has supported both the soldiers of Texas and the community that supports them. The collective history of the post and those around it, provide an interesting lesson for both the those in uniform and those that call Texas home.

Texas Military Department Open House Demonstrates Partnership and Capabilities



Courtesy Story

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Military Department members, along with representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders converged on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas for the annual Texas Military Department Open House and Air Show weekend, April 22, 23, 2017. 

The Open House highlights a multilateral partnership, which includes local, state and federal agencies. This partnership spans over three decades, and allows TMD and first responders to demonstrate teamwork and capabilities to the local community. The event also included by an array of vendors, living history reenactors, and dozens of volunteer groups.

Usually civilians are unable to interact with service members and first responders while they are on the job, but the Open House invites the community to see these agencies demonstrate their capabilities. Tim Pruett, commander of Special Operations with the Austin Police Department was on hand with members of the Austin Bomb Squad demonstrating some of their tools, such as bomb-sniffing dogs, tracked robots and bomb disposal suits. 

“It’s important to come out and visit the public and get those relationships built, not only for trust purposes, but to let them know we are people just like them,” said Pruett.

Steve Robertson, a special agent with the DEA drove down from Waco for his third straight year at the event. He felt the event was a critical part of informing the public about what they do. 

“Our primary job is to put drug traffickers in jail; however another part of our mission is to educate the public. So today, we are here for education and to talk to the public,” he said. 

Robertson also stressed that strong relationships between members of TMD, federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders are critical to the safety of Texas.

“Partnerships, task forces, team building, all those different words you use for working with different agencies are important to us because I have a four-man office that covers 13 counties. Without these partnerships we could not survive,” said Robertson.

Along with the static displays of vehicles, watercraft and helicopters, there were also demonstrations that showcased how partnering agencies work together during natural disasters - such as floods - in simulated rescues. 
One participant, Sgt. Destry Riggs, a UH-72 Lakota crew chief said it was important to reassure citizens that TMD stands ready to serve them. 

“We’re not just a combat role aircraft; we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Texas Department of Public Safety and other agencies on a regular basis ready to assist them,” he said.

“We work for the people of Texas to ensure their safety in the event of a natural disaster.”

The event was also a great opportunity for TMD to show its appreciation for the support it receives from the local community. 

“We host this event to thank our friends and neighbors,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas.

One of the biggest attractions at the event is the battle reenactment put on by “living history” members and personnel from the Texas Military Forces Museum, also located on Camp Mabry. The event featured nearly 100 reenactors in World War II uniforms and equipment, along with tanks and armored vehicles, and drew hundreds of spectators.

“To me it is very important because we’re also remembering those who came before us,” said Nichols.

Museum Director Jeff Hunt felt the importance of the event and the participation by the museum and reenactors could not be overstated. 
“This is our busiest weekend of the year. We will have anywhere between 4,500 and 6,500 people come through the museum. We are educating people, not only about the past, but the present. Through educating them about the past, we are putting the present into context, which helps them understand it.”

Hunt also felt that the opportunities provided to members of the public by the Open House event could have far reaching impacts on the future of TMD.

“We like to think that the 6 year old that comes through the museum and gets to sit in the cockpit of the F-16, or stands in awe of the Sherman tank, or comes down to one of our battle reenactments, is more likely when they are 18 or 19 to raise their hand and take the oath and put on the uniform and step into that long line of heroes who have defended the country and they will hold the torch aloft for their time and then pass it along to the next generation.”

Conquering Obstacles of SHARP

Soldiers of 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division navigate through obstacle course in an event to promote Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention awareness on Apr. 22, 2017 at Camp Swift, Texas. (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. James Greenwood, 72nd IBCT Public Affairs)



Conquering Obstacles of SHARP

Story by: Capt. James Greenwood, 72nd IBCT Public Affairs

CAMP SWIFT, Texas – Approximately 83 Texas National Guard Soldiers from the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Inf. Div. participated in the Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention Month obstacle course on Apr. 22, at Camp Swift, Texas. April is SHARP Awareness Month, and 72nd IBCT Soldiers showed their support for zero tolerance.

After the Soldiers completed the obstacle course, Maj. Zebadiah Miller, 172nd Engineer Battalion Commander, stated the SHARP program is a high priority and he always ensures his Soldiers understand his support. 

“SHARP is about taking action," said Miller. “Are you doing something that might be offensive? Are you doing something that might be taking advantage of your relationship with someone? Check yourself first, start taking action today.” 

Miller emphasized how the SHARP program promotes cultural change across the Army with a vision toward a culture of discipline and respect in which Soldiers intervene in sexual harassment and sexual assault to protect one another.

The SHARP program's main goal is to decrease, with a point toward taking out sexual offenses inside the Army through social change, avoidance, intervention, examination, responsibility, advocacy/response, appraisal, and training to sustain the All-Volunteer Force.

"The obstacle course was a great way to bring Soldiers of the brigade together to emphasize the importance of working as a cohesive team to complete a challenge,” said Col. Clarence Henderson, 72nd IBCT Commander. ”Our focus here was to enforce awareness on the prevention of any activity that would break the trust and integrity that is vital to our team."

Research shows that sexual assault is most likely to occur in environments where there are unhealthy social factors. Such factors include gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and other problems that degrade or devalue individuals and their contributions in the workplace. Based on this and other evidence, sexual assault prevention efforts in the military aim to advance a culture of dignity and respect for all who serve. 

Military leaders at all levels are the center of gravity in establishing a healthy command climate. The Department’s prevention programs focus on reinforcing the cultural imperatives of mutual respect and trust, professional values, and team commitment to creating an environment where sexist behaviors, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are not condoned, tolerated, or ignored.

The goal of the 72nd IBCT SHARP program is to build awareness and stop the crime from happening in the first place. Prevention efforts should ultimately decrease the number of individuals who perpetrate sexual assault and the number of people who become victims.



TMD Day at the Capitol

Texas legislators recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation, March 8, 2017 during a visit to the Capitol in Austin, Texas. The visit was to showcase capabilities of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Domestic Operations Taskforce, Office of the Executive Director and the National Guard Association of Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Lawmakers had the opportunity to see first hand the Texas Military Department’s capabilities as representatives of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Domestic Operations Taskforce, Office of the Executive Director and the National Guard Association of Texas, set up informational displays and met with elected officials as the Texas Capitol hosted TMD Day on March 8, 2017,
“There are always questions about how our organization works, how our funding works and how we help Texas,” said Maj. Christopher R. Mckeag, Texas Army National Guard legislative liaison. “A lot of people know we show up to the scene during disasters, but there’s a lot of behind the scenes work.”
Among the visitors was Texas Senator Donna Campbell, chairwoman for the Veterans Affairs and Border Security Committee. 
“She is pretty spun up so there wasn’t any questions that were burning for us,” said McKeag. “But just her coming out here, her presence serves as visibility and it increases the awareness of the organization.” 
During the visit, legislators recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation. Service members received a standing applause by all representatives and members of the public present, for the service the Texas Military Department gives to both the state and nation.
“We are Texans first and foremost so we are here for everyone,” said McKeag.
As part of TMD day at the Capitol, the Texas Army National Guard 36th Infantry Division Band held a surprise performance playing several patriotic and military songs in the rotunda. 
According to Mckeag, the Government Affairs team said they achieved their goal of increasing awareness and understanding of the Texas Military Department’s dual state and federal mission to both state representatives and the general public.
While addressing the gathered soldiers, airmen and civilian employees Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas explained the importance of TMD Day at the Capitol. 
“I thought today went extremely well, they got to meet you all, they didn’t just see Nichols. They got to see the National Guard.”

Texas, Nebraska ANG benefit from State Partnership Program

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Tyson Cannon, maintenance operations officer with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and Czech Air Force 1st Lt. Pavel Popspisil, chief of electric and special equipment group, examines the main gear box of the Mi-24 Hind Attack Helicopter March 22, 2017 at 22nd Air Base, Namest Nab Oslavou, Czech Republic. Popspisil explained how the gear box and engine were configured and removed. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)



Story by: Senior Airman De'Jon Williams

136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

PRAGUE - Airmen from Texas and Nebraska Air National Guard units partnered with the Czech Air Force to participate in a subject matter expert exchange of maintenance information March 20-23, 2017, at air bases in the Czech Republic.

The maintenance exchange was part of a state partnership program between the Texas and Nebraska Air National Guards and the Czech Republic coordinated by Maj. Mark White, bilateral affairs officer, U.S. Embassy-Prague, Texas Army National Guard.

"Having the ability to have Airmen from across multiple airframes share their experiences and best practices is something that the Czech Air Force really appreciated and valued," said White. "You could see the dialog and discussion evolving with detailed questions. I was very happy with the level of information and the vast experience that the Airmen were able to share with their Czech partners."

The state partnership program has been in place since 1993 with a multitude of military exchanges and familiarization over the course of its existence. However, it had been many years since a dedicated Air Force maintenance exchange had taken place.

"I think it's very important to obtain a relationship with our sister units to exchange ideas and practices, said Tech. Sgt. Jarrett Patman, a crew chief with the 136th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "I feel this exchange can benefit our unit in that we can learn from the way that their cargo base runs and I hope to gain knowledge to take back to Fort Worth and implement within our squadron."

The Airmen traveled to the three Czech Air Force bases, each with different aircraft, to discuss maintenance topics such as front shop, back shop and all levels of maintenance planning.

"As a maintenance systems subject matter expert, my goal was to describe to the Czech Air Force how we do our maintenance practices back in Nebraska, help and promote some new ideas, as well as exchange ideas from them and their maintenance practices that we might be able to utilize back in the states," said Master Sgt. Corey Wacker, 155th Air Refueling Wing maintenance management analyst, Nebraska Air National Guard. "The overall goal was to gain knowledge and a better understanding of how maintenance and military operations go in their country."

There have been multiple pilot exchanges, but never ones including maintenance or munitions. Both of these units are integral elements for mission success and were necessary additions for the benefit of the program.

"My role specifically was just to show them how we do it in the fighter world," said 1st Lt. Tyson Cannon, 149th Fighter Wing maintenance operations officer, Texas Air National Guard. "I brought a few slides to show our daily maintenance production meetings. I gave them a little insight into how we separate different shop sections, prioritize work operations and how we do our daily maintenance procedures."

The state partnership has been in place for over 24 years between the Czech Republic, the Texas National Guard and the Nebraska Air National Guard. Many military engagements have been conducted during this partnership, and with nearly 30 more exchanges covering the numerous mission sets within the military, planned this year, the states continue to build an enduring relationship with their Czech counterparts.