Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Arrowhead Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan as trainers

Arrowhead Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan as trainers

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Posted on: June 21, 2016

Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, climb the gangway as they deploy to southern Afghanistan June 11, out of Fort Hood, Texas, in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. They will be joining Task Force Arrowhead as part of the Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) team whose mission is to work with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces at a corps level and higher. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, climb the gangway as they deploy to southern Afghanistan June 11, out of Fort Hood, Texas, in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. They will be joining Task Force Arrowhead as part of the Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) team whose mission is to work with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces at a corps level and higher. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs) 

Soldiers of the 36th Infantry Division boarded an aircraft at Fort Hood, Texas, on June 11, on their way to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

The 45 Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard are headed to southern Afghanistan as part of the Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) team, and will join a component of senior leaders from the headquarters of the division who deployed the week prior.

"Our mission is to advise and assist the Afghan National Army and Uniformed Police at the corps level and above," said Lt. Col. Alba Melgar-C'de Baca, a plans officer from the 36th Inf. Div. and senior member of the team. "We will be breaking into three groups and are each going to different locations."

Each candidate for the mission was chosen from a list of volunteers, and were then assessed based on their civilian skills and military experience. More than half of the Soldiers are prior members of Security Forces Advisement Teams who have deployed to Afghanistan before.

"We have an amazing amount of talent in this group," said Melgar-C'de Baca. "We have police officers, coaches, teachers and border security agents, so our team run the gambit across the board with talented, motivated folks who all stepped forward and volunteered."

One of the team members is 2nd Lt. Jake Folgate, who works with at-risk teens at the Texas Challenge Academy in Eagle Lake, Texas. He’s excited to put his law enforcement education and experience into practice overseas. 

"I'm really enthusiastic and passionate about this mission," said Folgate, a 24-year-old graduate of Western Illinois University's Law Enforcement program. "I'm really looking forward to my first deployment and starting this mission with the Afghan Uniformed Police."

For many of the Soldiers, including Folgate, this will be their first deployment overseas. Although it's not necessarily a combat deployment, the team is excited and maybe a little nervous, said Melgar-C'de Baca. But they will have friends around them and no one is going alone, so I think that eases their minds a little bit.

"I know ya'll are the best trained, the best equipped, and are the finest Soldiers in the U.S. Army inventory, bar none, because you are all members of the 36th Inf. Div.," said the Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 36th Inf. Div., Brig. Gen. Rick Noriega, moments before the TAA members boarded the plane. "We wish you the best and salute you for who you are, and what you do. Make us proud.”

Communication Soldiers critical to MIBT success

Communication Soldiers critical to MIBT success

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Posted on: June 21, 2016

Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Sgt. 1st Class Juan Martinez, the Tactical Action Center Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge and Pvt. Gerardo Romano, a truck driver with 36th Inf. Div., monitor the communications systems at the Tactical Action Center during the Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas. Communications Soldiers provided equipment and support for the higher headquarters division staff which communicated with several Active and reserve component units. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Sgt. 1st Class Juan Martinez, the Tactical Action Center Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge and Pvt. Gerardo Romano, a truck driver with 36th Inf. Div., monitor the communications systems at the Tactical Action Center during the Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas. Communications Soldiers provided equipment and support for the higher headquarters division staff which communicated with several Active and reserve component units. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs) 

Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, set up and provided division-wide communication channels during a Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise, June 4-18 at Fort Hood, Texas.

The Texas Army National Guard division serves as the higher headquarters during this Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training (MIBT) exercise for a brigade and several specialized units as they train to meet requirements for their annual training cycle. The exercise will be focused on maneuver-based, decisive action and will include critical gunnery training on various weapons systems. 

"The division's role in this exercise is to act as a higher headquarters for the [Brigade Combat Teams] and other units out in the field," said Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, commander of the 36th Inf. Div. "Many BCTs are in states that do not have a higher headquarters, so here they can train and practice working with one."

Preparation began months in advance as network, signal and communications teams from the 36th Inf. Div., planned and organized equipment and systems to support the two-week exercise. Nearly 5,000 Soldiers and nine units from the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and the Texas and Mississippi National Guard participated in the training.

"In February, we had a full server refresh and rebuild," said Master Sgt. Brandon Horta, the 36th Inf. Div. Communications Noncommissioned Officer in Charge. "So we did a lot of network reengineering and reconfiguring of the Tactical Mission Command server." 

The command staff from the participating units had concerns about the connectivity of the Army Battle Command Systems required to track and control the moving pieces in the simulated battlespace. 

"Due to the varying fielding schedules, not every unit participating in this exercise had the same versions of the many systems we use to communicate," said Simpson. "Without the same versions, the systems cannot cross talk."

The various U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units solved this by system tests, double-checking software consistencies and frequent conference calls with each other across six time zones for months in advance. According to Simpson, this early preparation was key for successfully setting up the MIBT and allowed the exercise to kick off with all the units on the same playing field communications-wise.

An advance party of mostly communications Soldiers arrived May 28, and began setting up more than ten types of transmitter and relay systems, the Army Battle Command System, a Tactical Mission Command server and various unit tracking systems.

"The biggest challenge when we got here was the unforgiving terrain [due to the recent severe flooding in and around Fort Hood]," said Horta. "Several units had to move locations and we had to adjust our communication relays and retransmissions sites to provide the best connections."

One site, manned by a dozen Soldiers in rotating shifts, maintained a FM radio retransmission antennae and a High Capacity Line-Of-Sight Radio dish. The dish is a tri-band antennae system that requires line of sight from dish to dish to provide faster data transfer for reconnaissance video and intelligence systems.

"It took us about a day to set up and sync the dish and the FM antenna," said Pfc. Stephen Lewis, a 24-year-old computer information specialist with Signal Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 36th Inf. Div. "The hardest part was keeping the antennas up and linked. The first week, it rain more than half the time we were up there making the ground soft and muddy."

Despite the challenges, the communication Soldiers were able to successfully provide the necessary systems connectivity allowing the operations centers, headquarters units and ground troops to remain in contact throughout the division's portion of the exercise.

For the 36th Inf. Div. staff, the MIBT exercise is the first step in preparing for the division's Warfighter 2018 rotation in eighteen months. Warfighter is multi-year preparation training event culminating in a simulated exercise that allows units from brigade to division to corps, to integrate command systems, and execute large-scale missions and operations.

Texas Army National Guard Receives Excellence Award

Texas Army National Guard Receives Excellence Award

Story by: Laura Lopez

Posted: June 21, 2016

Courtesy Photo | Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, Special Assistant to the Director of the Army National Guard, (left) presents Army Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, Assistant Deputy Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard (center) and SFC Brenda Lopez, TXARNG G5 NCOIC (right), with the Army National Guard Communities of Excellence third place in the Bronze division at a ceremony held at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Virginia, May 23, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)
Courtesy Photo | Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, Special Assistant to the Director of the Army National Guard, (left) presents Army Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, Assistant Deputy Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard (center) and SFC Brenda Lopez, TXARNG G5 NCOIC (right), with the Army National Guard Communities of Excellence third place in the Bronze division at a ceremony held at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Virginia, May 23, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)

AUSTIN, Texas– The 2016 Army Community of Excellence winners were recently announced by the Department of the Army, with the Texas Army National Guard earning third place in the Bronze division. 

An awards ceremony was held at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Virginia, May 23, 2016.

“This is a tremendous honor for the Texas Army National Guard and is truly representative of the 18,000 citizen-soldiers who serve state of Texas and the U.S.,” said Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, Assistant Deputy Adjutant General-Army. “This is definitely an award that encompasses a group effort and, as such, enables us to better serve our fellow Texans.”

The ACOE Award honors the top Army, National Guard and Army Reserve installations which have achieved the highest levels of excellence in building a quality environment, outstanding facilities and superior services.

“The Texas Army National Guard departments have learned that ACOE is more than just a competition; it is about providing a common vocabulary that facilitates an environment of excellence and a continuous process for improvement,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brenda Lopez, G5-Organizational Excellence noncommissioned officer in charge, Texas Army National Guard. “We have also learned the importance of integrating our customers, partners, and workforce into organizational change processes that will have lasting impacts to our organization.”

The ACOE program is an Army Chief of Staff program that uses the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program Criteria for Performance Excellence – an internationally recognized integrated management system – to evaluate installations. The criteria ensures the leadership considers all stakeholders, tailors the post’s processes and resources accordingly, and employs visionary thinking through the application of proven business principles in six distinct, but integrated categories. Those categories include leadership, strategy, customer focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, workforce focus and operations focus. 

The TXARNG has competed in the annual ACOE competition since 1996. Since 2006, the TXARNG has placed in the rankings and been named a gold winner, nationally, six times.

Texas Guardsmen partner with Czech Republic engineers

Service members from the Texas National Guard's 386th Engineer Battalion, the 551st Multi Role Bridge Company, U.S. Army's 20th Engineer Battalion, and the Czech Republic 15th Engineer Regiment conduct a wet gap crossing during a operation rehearsal June 20, 2016, at Fort Hood, Texas, as part of a Multinational Lumberjack River Exercise. Through the States’ Partnership Program, the Texas Army National Guard currently works alongside the Czech Republic and Chile to conduct military operations in support of defense security goals. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena/Released)
Service members from the Texas National Guard's 386th Engineer Battalion, the 551st Multi Role Bridge Company, U.S. Army's 20th Engineer Battalion, and the Czech Republic 15th Engineer Regiment conduct a wet gap crossing June 20, 2016, at Fort Hood, Texas, as part of a Multinational Lumberjack River Exercise. Through the States’ Partnership Program, the Texas Army National Guard currently works alongside the Czech Republic and Chile to conduct military operations in support of defense security goals. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena/Released)

Texas Guardsmen partner with Czech Republic engineers

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Posted: June 21, 2016

FORT HOOD, Texas – Engineers from the Texas Army National Guard’s 386th Engineer Battalion, 551st Multi Role Bridge Company, Czech Republic’s 15th Engineer Regiment and U.S. Army’s 20th Engineer Battalion conducted a Multinational Lumberjack River Exercise, June 21, 2016.

“This is the first time we have worked with an active duty engineer battalion in order to conduct a gap crossing exercise along with the foreign national soldiers,” said Texas Guardsman Lt. Col. Anthony J. Miles, commander for the 386th Eng. Batt.

The Texas National Guard is currently partnered with the Czech Republic and Chile under the State Partnership Program. Through SPP, Guardsmen conduct military-to-military engagements with multinational allies in support of defense security goals.

“It’s an honor to see Czech soldiers exercising alongside American soldiers,” said Petr Gandalovic, Ambassador for Czech Republic, during his visit to Fort Hood. “This is important because we all keep the same values and we all have to be responsible for each other, and the responsibility translates into capability of doing something real.”

Service members coordinated with each other to conduct a wet gap crossing. When a large body of water is blocking ground transportation, this is used to transport military supplies, personnel and or vehicles across a lake or river.

“The concept of the operation was to conduct rafting operations and project combat power across the far shore,” said Capt. Jacob Patterson an operations planner for the 386th Eng. Batt. 

During the exercise, soldiers worked on ground to free-launch bays and bridges into the lake, and conducted air operations to sling load a bridge, several bays and ramps.

“The aircraft is doing airdrops,” said Sgt. Randall McMorris, with the 551st MRBC, non-commissioned officer in charge for the shore portion of the exercise. “We have a landing zone up the road, and they will attach a ramp and boat and drop it in the water.”

Once all the equipment was in the lake, service members connected the bays and ramps to form a floating bridge. Each bridge is made up of five interior bays and two ramps, referred to as a seven float. 

“With that seven float you can push the heaviest piece of army equipment across, said Patterson. “We pushed M113’s, M2A2 Bradley’s, Up-Armored Humvee’s, a buffalo and a husky, which is a route clearance piece of equipment,” said Patterson.

Soldiers built, two bridges to transport equipment across the lake and used real-world conditions as practice for maneuver operations. 

“This year the water levels are much higher than they were last year,” said Patterson. “It’s about 5 to 10 ft. higher than what we experienced last year, so that in itself is a challenge because we’ve had to change the operation multiple times based on Mother Nature and what we were given to work with.”

Last year the Texas National Guard’s 386th Eng. Batt., went to the Czech Republic to conduct a similar exercise using the Czechs’ equipment. This year, they came the U.S.

“It’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve had so far,” said 2nd Lt. Josef Kurfirt a platoon leader with the Czech Republic’s 15th Eng. Reg. “The most valuable thing for us is for us to see this bridge, work with their equipment and vehicles, and compare technologies and procedures with them.”

The State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for over 20 years. The U.S. currently works with 76 nations around the globe.

“This is extremely important in today’s environment to be able to work with interagency and non-governmental organizations with multinational forces, to include our own,” said Miles. “It’s an excellent training opportunity because that’s how we fight overseas. We get rolled up and assigned to other active duty units so if we can practice that in a peacetime situation it makes it that much easier in a wartime situation.”

Texas guardsmen, first responders conduct aviation search and rescue exercise

Texas guardsmen, first responders conduct aviation search and rescue exercise

Story By: Capt. Jessica Jackson

Posted on: June 16, 2016

Photo By Capt. Jessica Jackson | Multiple state and local agencies participated in this year's SAREX 2016. The search and rescue exercise helps first responders better coordinate with partner agencies to provide efficient and life-saving resources when needed. ‪(U.S Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jessica Jackson/ Released)
Photo By Capt. Jessica Jackson | Multiple state and local agencies participated in this year's SAREX 2016. The search and rescue exercise helps first responders better coordinate with partner agencies to provide efficient and life-saving resources when needed. ‪(U.S Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jessica Jackson/ Released)

AUSTIN, Texas — Helicopters buzzing overhead, first responders descending to save stranded victims — that was the scene at Camp Mabry in Austin as guardsmen and five state and local partnering agencies conducted a large-scale aviation search and rescue exercise, June 8, 2016.

Texas Military Department, Travis County STAR flight, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Coast Guards – Houston and Austin Police Department came together in a joint effort to complete the exercise said Brett Dixon, program manager for Texas Task Force 1.

Every year, a different catastrophic event is put into the training. Each exercise provides Texas Military Department and local and state authorities the opportunity to offer mutual assistance to mock stranded victims.

This year’s scenario focused around a hurricane that produced record rainfall in Austin — causing widespread flooding throughout the area.
Partnering agencies responded on scene, within hours, to run through mock evacuations in preparation for when severe weather occurs.

“This exercise is a planned partnership between Texas Task Force 1, and mimics past events to make the training as realistic as possible,” said Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Troy Meuth, search and rescue director for Air Operations Center.

Several months of preparation and planning went into conducting this complex event including reaching out to the interagency partners and using lessons learned to help develop real-world scenarios and create a plan.

Flight crews within the different organizations also played a significant role in the exercise. 

“During the exercise I was the Air Mission Commander and pilot in command,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Pedro Vargas-Lebron, Texas Army National Guard. “My main responsibilities are ensuring the flight is safe for the mission we are doing. The crew in the back will do the rescues and my role is to ensure we can accomplish that safely.”

Along with providing realistic training, the exercise centered around synchronization of the Air Operations Center on Camp Mabry and the Joint Air Ground Coordination team located at the STAR flight hangar.

“We are using this opportunity to make sure we can communicate between agencies, making sure that when 911 calls come in that we can direct the appropriate asset or resource out to where they need to be to do the most good,” Dixon said.

In addition to improving life-saving skills, Meuth said this was also an opportunity for participants to spend a day doing something that matters. 

“The people who do this, including our interagency partners, are very passionate about what they do,” Meuth said. “It’s a very high-risk, but high-reward job.”

The annual exercise is in its third year and is a smaller component of the statewide Lower Rio Grande Valley hurricane evacuation exercise.

“During previous hurricanes, we realized with all the aircraft on scene, there was some confusion of roles and responsibilities,” Meuth said. By conducting this exercise, we can work that out ahead of time and develop capabilities so we’re able to do more with less.”

Through preparation and practice, these cooperating entities can become more confident in their ability to be there when they are needed the most.

“We’re able to respond to Texans when they’re in need,” Meuth said. “That’s what this is about; whenever there is a disaster or big event we’re able to quickly respond with the right assets to help our fellow Texans.”

Vargas-Lebron had a similar sentiment. “In the end it’s about supporting the local community. That is what makes the guard unique.”

36th Infantry Division headquarters conducts MIBT exercise

36th Infantry Division headquarters conducts MIBT exercise

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Posted On: June 16, 2016

Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, host a Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise scheduled for June 4-18 at Fort Hood, Texas. The MIBT is a training exercise designed to provide high-level combat training to Army National Guard brigade combat teams who are unable to attend a Combat Training Center rotation due to capacity and scheduling constraints of the center. Nearly ten units, across three states, participated in the two-week exercise to hone their battlefield skills and strategies. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Photo By Maj. Randall Stillinger | Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, host a Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training exercise scheduled for June 4-18 at Fort Hood, Texas. The MIBT is a training exercise designed to provide high-level combat training to Army National Guard brigade combat teams who are unable to attend a Combat Training Center rotation due to capacity and scheduling constraints of the center. Nearly ten units, across three states, participated in the two-week exercise to hone their battlefield skills and strategies. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

The Texas Army National Guard division serves as the higher headquarters during this Multi-Echelon Integrated Brigade Training (MIBT) exercise for a brigade and several specialized units as they train to meet requirements for their annual training cycle. The exercise will be focused on maneuver-based, decisive action and will include critical gunnery training on various weapons systems. 

The exercise is designed to provide high-level combat training to Army National Guard brigade combat teams who did not attend a Maneuver Combat Training Center (MCTC) rotation. The two centers are the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana, and are specialized facilities that focus on strategic critical command processes and combat training prior to deployments. The MIBT is based on the same training methods in order to sustain readiness and maintain the capabilities of reserve and active-component forces. 

"The MIBT is designed to provide divisions and brigades the opportunity to train to specific training models when there are no Combat Training Centers available," said Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, commanding general of the 36th Infantry Division. "Since Battle Command is a perishable skill, it requires frequent repetition, improvements and practice to maintain efficiency and capabilities."

The first MIBT was conducted in 2015 by Army National Guard units from New York, Vermont and Virginia, at Fort Drum, New York with the 42nd Infantry Division serving as the higher headquarters. Nine units and more than 5,000 Active and Reserve Component Soldiers from Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas will be participating during this year’s event. 

"For the division, our primary mission is to provide first class training opportunities for the brigade as they build and refine their staff processes and battle drills," said Simpson. "Many brigades are in states that do not have a division in it, so this exercise allows them to train directly with a higher headquarters."

Designed to maximize collective training and support increased unit readiness, the MIBT exercise is conducted during the standard two-week Annual Training period with minimal additional resources or funding. The use of localized training areas, in this case Fort Hood, allows for considerable cost savings.

"Both the 155th ABCT and our division have great separate working relationships with the 1st Cavalry Division," said Simpson. "So we are able to combine our organizations and build an even better relationship where we all work off each other's experiences."

As U.S. Army Forces Command's designated coordinating and implementation authority for the Army Total Force Policy, the First Army Division developed and sponsored the MIBT by integrating active and reserve component forces into a collective training event.

The policy sets the unit standards for total force unit readiness, focusing on leader development, integrating the Active and Reserve Components into collective unit training events, reducing post-mobilization training time and strengthening partnerships between active and reserve components commanders. 

This year's participating MIBT units are:

  • Headquarters, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard
  • 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard
  • 184th Sustainment Command, Mississippi Army National Guard
  • 980th Engineering Battalion, Texas Army National Guard
  • 75th Training Command, U.S. Army Reserve, Houston, Texas
  • U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command of the U.S. Army Reserve, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • 177th Combined Arms Training Brigade, U.S. Army's First Division East from Camp Shelby, Miss. 
  • 188th Combined Arms Training Brigade, U.S. Army's First Division East from Camp Shelby, Miss.
  • 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas

Texas Guardsmen learn disaster response from the best

Texas Guardsmen learn disaster response from the best

Story by: Maj. Chol Chong

Posted: June 9, 2016

Photo By Lt. Col. William Phillips | Members of the Texas National Guard's 6th Civil Support Team, headquartered in Austin, conduct biological target lane training in Corpus Christi, Texas, with Dugway Proving Ground's Special Projects Division and the Corpus Christi Fire Department HAZMAT team, June 9, 2016. The training includes two days of scenario-based lanes and one day of classroom instruction. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Col. William Phillips/Released)
Photo By Lt. Col. William Phillips | Members of the Texas National Guard's 6th Civil Support Team, headquartered in Austin, conduct biological target lane training in Corpus Christi, Texas, with Dugway Proving Ground's Special Projects Division and the Corpus Christi Fire Department HAZMAT team, June 9, 2016. The training includes two days of scenario-based lanes and one day of classroom instruction. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Col. William Phillips/Released)  

The Texas National Guard’s 6th Civil Support Team is one of the first lines of defense following a chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear incident. This joint outfit of 22 full-time personnel is always on call, and always ready to react when disaster strikes. Such vigilance requires regular training and mission proficiency, especially with the agencies they’d most likely serve alongside. Most recently, they demonstrated this expertise in Corpus Christi, Texas, with the support of the Corpus Christi Fire Department and personnel from the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground out of Utah. From June 7-9, these experts in emergency response conducted specific target biological threat awareness training, engaging various scenarios to perfect their interoperability and processes.

“The members of the 6th CST increased their operating skills and further developed their understanding of the Tactics, Techniques & Procedures Development process by responding to multiple unknown threats using a progressive crawl-walk-run method of training,” said Jaromy D. Jessop, the Dugway Proving Ground Special Programs Division Program Manager.

The Proving Ground personnel were specifically requested by the 6th CST for their professionalism and experience in CBRN incidents. They contributed classroom instruction and scenario exercises to the team throughout the three days in Corpus Christi.

"Training with true subject matter experts is always of great benefit,” said Army Capt. Brandon M. Wells, a survey team leader with the 6th CST. Dugway Proving Ground is one of only a few facilities that really understands the science behind CBRN response considerations.”

Dugway Proving Ground set up a single training lane on day one at a storage facility that used to be a functional firefighter station house in Corpus Christi. The 6th CST was tasked to determine the threat, sample the findings, and provide mitigation recommendations to the incident commander, played by Jessop. The 6th CST conducted site reconnaissance, sampling, and threat mitigations, with feedback from their on-site partners.

“A critical mission for the 6th CST is to provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities,” said Jessop. “The no notice response training increased the unit's ability to assist civil authorities when asked to react to an unknown CBRN threat.”

The final day of training pitted the CST against two separate buildings at the firehouse station in order to solve multiple complex problems to the complete the satisfaction of the incident commander. Meanwhile, their civil partners from the local fire department learned about the resources their military counterparts could bring to an emergency situation.

“The event further strengthen relationships with Corpus Christi Fire Department personnel who observed portions of the event and provided the training facility,” said Jessop.

In addition to providing performance feedback, Dugway Proving Ground conducted a detailed class on Tactics, Techniques, and Procedure Developments, focusing on the fundamentals of microbiology, agents of bioterrorism, sampling biological threats, and biological decontamination.

“Because of their wealth of knowledge,” said Wells, “Mr. Jessop and his team were able to facilitate an excellent training lane that not only challenged our team during site characterization and sample collection, but also with problem solving and the analysis of potential CBRN hazards."

Multinational forces make preparations for communications and safe operations

Multinational forces make preparations for communications and safe operations
Story by:
Sgt. Adrian Shelton
Posted: June 8, 2016

Photo By Sgt. Adrian Shelton | An instructor rushes to assist Soldiers in exiting a simulated rolled over vehicle during HMMWV Egress Assistance Training (HEAT) at the Observer Coach Trainer Academy, at Operation Swift Response at JMRC, Hohenfels Training Area in southeastern Germany, June 10, 2016. HEAT teaches Soldiers how to react and survive in the event of a vehicle rollover event. Exercise Swift Response is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multi-national airborne forces in the world. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of the combat core of the U.S. Global Response Force -- currently the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team -- to conduct rapid response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe. Swift Response 16 includes more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United states and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 26, 2016. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Adrian Shelton)
Photo By Sgt. Adrian Shelton | An instructor rushes to assist Soldiers in exiting a simulated rolled over vehicle during HMMWV Egress Assistance Training (HEAT) at the Observer Coach Trainer Academy, at Operation Swift Response at JMRC, Hohenfels Training Area in southeastern Germany, June 10, 2016. HEAT teaches Soldiers how to react and survive in the event of a vehicle rollover event. Exercise Swift Response is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multi-national airborne forces in the world. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of the combat core of the U.S. Global Response Force -- currently the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team -- to conduct rapid response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe. Swift Response 16 includes more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United states and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 26, 2016. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Adrian Shelton)

Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC), US Army Garrison, Hohenfels, Germany - Service members from the Army active duty component, National Guard and Reserves, and US Army Europe, prepared for their roles in Swift Response 16 by attending observer/controller training here alongside multinational forces on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. 

Swift Response is a two-phased, premier military crisis response training event; it involves a multinational task force whose primary purpose is to evaluate and enhance the forces' readiness to rapidly deploy in response to conflicts anywhere in the world within less than 24 hours. The first phase began May 27 in Poland, during which paratroopers of several nations conducted multiple and simultaneous airborne jumps to demonstrate allied rapid response capabilities.

"Learning how to work together with the multinational members from all around NATO and the Unified Europe (UE) forces creates some difficult challenges," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael P. Perez, commandant of the Observer Coach Trainer Academy. "One of the biggest challenges is learning languages and having to work through the language barriers, having to use linguists to help facilitate the information critically that needs to get across to everybody."

During Swift Response's second phase, the OC-T teams gather at JMRC, during which the teams provide coaching, teaching, mentoring and after action reviews (AAR) to military units that are part of NATO. A primary focus for them, other than exercising control and adjudication of instrumentation systems, is assisting the chain of command in enforcing safety and mitigating risk. Their initial training involves pyrotechnics safety and what is known as HMMWV egress assistance training (HEAT) that teaches Soldiers the effects of rollover incidents and the skills to react and survive such incidents should they occur.

"The units give us what they want to train on, and whatever the training plan they have is our indicators that they're succeeding at the mission they're on," said Army Capt. Joshua A. Wright, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Brigade, San Antonio, Texas. He is also the mobilization officer in charge for Texas Army National Guard. Wright said that OC's ensure the units maneuver safely and that their actions are documented in order for units to maximize the quality of their training at JMRC.

One of America's allies, France, sent members of a newly established joint airborne brigade in the city of Marseille, to JMRC to learn ways to observe and coach their unit's training. They presented the challenge of language barriers but how that can be overcome during the integration efforts during an exercise such as Swift Response.

"The first thing we have to learn is to speak English," said French Army Maj. Fabrice Vasseur. "It is sometimes very difficult for us. Like Americans, French have many different accents and sometimes for us for example on the radios, there is misunderstanding, so it is important for us to hear people speaking."

The OC's agree that communications is their biggest challenge. The host nation for Swift Response 16, Germany, identifies its location as a key strength that enhances overall multinational operability. 

"To all the nations that are not here, take a chance and join us," said German Army Capt. Sascha Duderstaedt, 3rd Company, 31st Airborne Regiment, also known as German Ranger Company, in Seedorf. "It's a great opportunity, especially how much effort and money the U.S. put in here, and to train here in the environment that is international, that is challenging, and hopefully more nations from the NATO side will join us here at Swift Response to get better within the NATO."

This year marks the 16th rotation of Operation Swift Response, and will conclude on June 26.

Texas Guardsmen stay mission ready to help fellow citizens

Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph A. Fuentes, a crew chief with the 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, of the 36 Infantry Division, based out of San Antonio, Texas, stands ready for the next medevac emergency June 4, 2016. The State Operations Center requested more resources from the Texas Military Department due to the recent flooding across Texas. The 2-149th is equipped with medevac capabilities such as aircraft, to transport litter and ambulatory patients to a higher level of care. (Photo by: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph A. Fuentes, a crew chief with the 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, of the 36 Infantry Division, based out of San Antonio, Texas, stands ready for the next medevac emergency June 4, 2016. The State Operations Center requested more resources from the Texas Military Department due to the recent flooding across Texas. The 2-149th is equipped with medevac capabilities such as aircraft, to transport litter and ambulatory patients to a higher level of care. (Photo by: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Texas Guardsmen stay mission ready to help fellow citizens

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Posted: June 4, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The results and lingering effects of El Nino continue to wreck havoc on the state of Texas, as severe flooding across the state is forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. From May 29, 2016 through June 4, 2016, more than 250 members of the Texas Military Department mobilized to support its local and state partners with emergency operations. 

Disaster situations like these are exactly what part-time guardsmen like Sgt. Joseph A. Puente, crew chief for the Charlie Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, are trained to be ready for. 

“They call us M-day guys, meaning that we have a civilian job by day and we do this on the weekends,” said Puente. “But we always know that state active duty missions could come up, so if we are watching a big rain event, we know the possibility is there.”

When not in uniform, Puente works as a field operations technician at one of the nations leading Telecommunications Company in San Antonio, Texas.

On May 30, 2016, the State Operations Center requested more resources. Guardsmen from the 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, to include Puente, and Texas Task Force 1 Search and Rescue Team, were activated and mobilized to the San Antonio Army Aviation Support Facility in San Antonio, Texas.

“I looked at my schedule and said – if the state needs me, if the guard needs me, if the unit, and if I can be an asset to the public, please give me a call,” said Puente. “The call was sent out on Saturday on Memorial weekend and we reported in Tuesday morning at 7 am.”

The 2-149th is equipped with medevac capabilities such as aircraft, to transport people and ambulatory patients to safety or a higher level of care. 

When paired with Texas Task Force 1, the unit is able to rescue citizens from life-threatening situations like trees, flooded creeks, or vehicles that have been swept away from high-rise water.

Guardsmen like Puente know that being mission ready is essential to saving lives. 

“I’ve always heard the medevac world runs real fast,” said Puente. “I was prior infantry so I had all my stuff laid just right. Everything moved really fast but it was kind of like a controlled chaos. That aircraft was up and running in the least amount of time to get to that victim.”

Crew chiefs must go through about 25-50 hours of monitored training as a crew member and pass basic tasks as well as perform mission tasks which consist of tactical flying, fire fighting, hoist operations, night missions using night vision goggles.

This was Puente’s’ first real-world disaster response mission as a crew chief, and having that practice gave him confidence in his abilities to perform when Texas made the call for help.

“You’re with them all the time, you train with them, you’re doing high strenuous tasks and so you push through it together and when the aircraft lands at the end of the day you feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Texas Guardsmen conducted more than 135 missions, rescuing more than 900 people and 310 pets following severe flooding across the state, May 29-June 12, 2016.

Texas training institute welcomes new commander

Texas training institute welcomes new commander

Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh

Posted on: May 17, 2016

Sgt. Josiah Pugh Brig. Gen. Sean A. Ryan passes the colors from the 136th Regiment's outgoing commander, Col. Michael Adame, to the unit's incoming commander, Col. Carlton Smith, during a change of command ceremony held at the Camp Mabry Simpson Auditorium on April 14, 2016. The ceremony represents the change of responsibility from one commander to another. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh)
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
Brig. Gen. Sean A. Ryan passes the colors from the 136th Regiment's outgoing commander, Col. Michael Adame, to the unit's incoming commander, Col. Carlton Smith, during a change of command ceremony held at the Camp Mabry Simpson Auditorium on April 14, 2016. The ceremony represents the change of responsibility from one commander to another. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh)

A group of about fifty Texas Guardsmen gathered into the dimly lit Command Sgt. Maj. Simpson Auditorium on Camp Mabry April 14, 2016. Their purpose? To bid farewell to the 136th Regional Training Institute's outgoing commander, Col. Michael Adame and welcome the incoming commander, Col. Carlton Smith.

The 136th RTI trains more than 1,500 Soldiers per year with more than 45 different courses offered. Soldiers come from across Texas and from around the nation to advance their military career here.

Adame, who has served for 30 years and deployed with the RTI in 2004, spoke to the group from the stage and reflected on his time with the unit. "The most important thing I've seen here is the people. It's been an honor to serve with you."

In the military today, change of command ceremonies harken back to the militaries of the Middle Ages in Europe. The passing of the colors signifies the orderly transfer of responsibility from one commander to another. On the ancient battlefield, the colors critically marked the position of a commander within a battle. During the ceremony, the colors passed from the senior enlisted leader, who safeguards them, to the outgoing commander. The outgoing commander passes the colors to the higher headquarters commander, who in turn entrusts them to the incoming commander, symbolically transferring the responsibility of commanding the unit. The new commander finally returns the colors to the senior enlisted leader, signifying the beginning of a new chapter in the organization's leadership.

Adame expressed his wishes for his troops going forward. "Continue to be all you can be and train the force."

Smith, who deployed with the RTI in 2003, took the stage with pride on his face. He spoke to his new troops about what he hopes the future will hold. "I really want to take the opportunity to know what this regiment is about. I look to carry forward with what Mike has established."