Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Community interacts with Texas Military Forces

Story by: Sgt. Praxedis Pineda

Posted: April 19, 2015

Courtesy Photo A Soldier with the 36th Infantry Division fights against enemy German Soldiers during a WWII reenactment at the Texas Military Forces Open House and Air Show at Camp Mabry April 18, 2015. Camp Mabry and its facilities are open to the public. Events like these help to form a better relationship and understanding between Texas Military Forces and the Austinites who live around the post.
A soldier with the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, fights against enemy soldiers during a WWII reenactment at the Texas Military Forces Open House and Air Show at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 18, 2015. Events like these help to form a better relationship and understanding, of the Texas Guard mission, between Texas Military Forces and the community.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Highlighting more than three decades of local, state and federal partnership, the Texas Military Forces and first responders demonstrate teamwork during the Texas Military Forces Open House and Air Show at Camp Mabry in Austin, April 18, 2015. The free two-day event welcomed the local community to view this partnership.

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

Because of operational tempo and mission requirements, it’s not usually possible for visitors to interact with the service members and first responders. 

“We’re always in such a hurry,” said Patrick Phillips, flight paramedic with the Travis County Start Flight. “When we’re operational there’s not an opportunity to visit.”

The open house lets agencies slow down to demonstrate their capabilities. 

“People can see what we do in a friendly environment,” said Phillips. “It’s an opportunity for us to display our equipment.”

Displays included helicopters, trucks and boats used during combat and emergency operations. Some visitors touched and even operated some of the equipment.

“My kids can connect the things they see in the movies with reality,” said Jessie Metcalf, a community member that lives in the surrounding neighborhood.

Agencies clarified many myths and misconceptions visitors had in regards to their capabilities. 

“This is a great insight to different emergency services, and not just fire,” said Lt. Jarrett Jobes, member of the Austin Fire Department Special Operations rescue team. “The unit responds to hazardous material, cave rescues and water rescues.”

The event endorsed the “Partnerships That Matter” theme, and informed the community of the teamwork performed between agencies.

“We learned about the camaraderie and connections between the volunteers,” said Metcalf. 

Throughout the year, Texas Military Forces and first responders work together to strengthen their partnerships.

“We work pretty close with the Texas Military Forces and the police,” said Phillips. 


Modern equipment and weapons were the spotlight this weekend, but the show wasn’t complete without reminders of the past.

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

Visitors traveled through time with activities like the WWII reenactment and multiple vintage weapons demonstrations.

“We learned how they shoot the big guns,” said Miguel Ornelas, Palm Elementary School student.

While some displays advertised history other events were dedicated to the future. A naturalization ceremony allowed veterans to receive their American citizenship.

“There are some that are Americans by birth, [these veterans] are Americans by choice,” said Mayor of Austin Steve Adler.

This opportunity allows new citizens other options and benefits.

“This was possible because I enlisted,” said Pvt. Carlos Hernandez Del Bosque, Texas Army National Guard. “Now I’m a U.S. citizen. Now I can finish school.”

The spirit of the event flows from veterans, to newly naturalized citizens, to children that want to share their experience with others.

“Try to come next year because it’s a lot of fun,” said Phillips.

Texas Military Forces honorarily enlists young boy battling rare disorder

Story by: Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

Posted: April 2, 2015

Honorary enlistee Rowan Windham poses for a picture at his honorary enlistment ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015. Windham is battling a rare disorder, Shwachmann-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastro-intestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. During one of his stays at the Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Windham met Sgt. David Hixson, a medic with the Texas Army National Guard. There, Windham shared his dream of always wanting to be a Soldier and soon after, Hixson, with the help of fellow Texas National Guardsmen, made it all possible. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).
Honorary enlistee Rowan Windham poses for a picture at his honorary enlistment ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015. Windham is battling a rare disorder, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. During one of his stays at the Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Windham met Sgt. David Hixson, a medic with the Texas Army National Guard. There, Windham shared his dream of always wanting to be a Soldier and soon after, Hixson, with the help of fellow Texas National Guardsmen, made it all possible. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).

AUSTIN, Texas - With his right hand raised, eight-year-old Rowan Windham took the Oath of Enlistment to become the newest member of the Texas Army National Guard. 

Rowan had the unique opportunity to be given an honorary enlistment into the organization during a ceremony held at its headquarters at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015.

After an emotional ceremony for friends and family, the young soldier looked out at the audience, cleared his throat and said, “Thank you. This is the best day of my whole entire life.”

Rowan is currently battling a rare disorder called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. Rowan has spent more than 900 days in the hospital, received dozens of blood transfusions and made 71 trips to the operating room.

During one of his stays at the Methodist Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Rowan met nurse’s aide, David Hixson, who is also a combat medic in the Texas Army National Guard. There the two grew close.

“I met Rowan after my last deployment, and we immediately became friends,” Hixson said. “Even though it wasn't under the best circumstances, every time he came back it was like seeing an old buddy.” 

At a recent visit, Hixson informed Rowan that he would be deploying soon, and they would not be able to see each other for a while. This is where the eight-year-old expressed his life-long wish to his friend.

“When I told Rowan I was leaving, he told me he too wanted to be in the Army one day, Hixson said. “So after talking to his mom, I contacted a friend at Camp Mabry, who later contacted a lieutenant colonel in the public affairs office, and it kind of just snowballed from there. And here we are today.”

In front of family, friends and distinguished guests, Rowan swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution as many of his fellow guardsmen in attendance did before him. Rowan’s father, Brian Windham, described the event as overwhelming and shared his son’s interest in the military and strong will to survive.

“Rowan actually enlisted himself into the Army on a piece of paper a couple of years ago, so this is fantastic; he’s got to be way overwhelmed with joy,” Windham said. “He’s always looking to help other people. He has two feeding tubes, one goes to his heart the other to his stomach, and everyday he’ll tell you he has the best life ever.” 

Rowan’s resilient attitude earned him a spot in his new home unit as he was made an honorary member of the 124th Cavalry Regiment. 

“Because we know that you are such a trooper, we want to enlist you into the cavalry,” said Brig. Gen. Sean Ryan, commander of the 71st Troop Command and officiator at the enlistment. “A cavalry soldier always moves forward in battle, and we know that you, Rowan, are always moving forward in your own battles.”

Rowan will continue to combat his illness as he and his family travel to a specialized hospital in Seattle and look at a possible bone marrow transplant. As Ryan states, Rowan is on his way to his own deployment, but not alone, he now has more than 24,000 guardsmen by his side.............MORE PHOTOS

TXSG captures top honors in TXMF pistol competition

Story by: Capt. Esperanza Meza, 19th Regt. PAO

Posted: April 1, 2015

Soldiers TXSG Patch
Photo by: Tanya Lippincott

BASTROP, Texas – Texas State Guard Soldiers from 19th Regiment’s Pistol Team won top honors in the Texas Military Forces Adjutant General’s Combat Pistol competition, Jan. 23-25, 2015, at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas.

During the annual Adjutant General’s Pistol Competition, a total of 54 competitors from the Army, Air and State Guard competed for one of eight Governor’s Twenty tabs. Guardsmen competed in four individual matches and two team matches with individual scores configured into the team totals.

The 19th Regiment’s team placed first in the team completion. 2nd Lt. Scott Hunt, 2nd Lt. David Park, Sgt. Sean Mounger and Cpl. Jonathan Kelley made up team, with Mounger finishing first and Hunt finishing third overall during the individual competition. 

The Governor’s Twenty recognizes the top twenty marksmen in the TXMF, with eight tabs for pistol, eight for rifle, two for sniper and two for machine gun. 

Individual events included an anti-body armor match, a combat pistol barricade match and overall excellence in competition. The team competition included the “Patton” match, named after General George Patton, and a steel plate challenge utilizing all four team members, two on pistol and two on sub-machine gun. Shooters fired from 15-30 yards in the standing, kneeling, prone and barricade positions using both strong and weak hand.

Tabs from the pistol competition were awarded to Hunt, Mounger and Park.

“Keeping an open mind and your ego in check allows you to learn and improve from your teammates, that and the discipline to put the time in to practice your training,” said Mounger. “To sum it up, using my favorite quote from a past college professor of mine, ‘You cannot learn what you think you already know.’”

“As Sgt. Mounger suggested, it is important to approach training with an open mind and a willingness to receive coaching regardless of skill level,” said Hunt. “I can’t tell you how many times something doesn’t feel right and I ask another team member to watch me and provide feedback on form and technique.”

Hunt is only the 7th TXMF soldier to earn a Governor’s Twenty tab in all four combat disciplines, since the program began in 1980, earning a total of thirteen tabs since he began competing in 2011. Both Hunt and Mounger were on the winning pistol and rifle teams in 2012. Mounger, a founding member of the 19th Regiment, TXSG Marksmanship Team, has earned a total of twelve tabs. Park, who participated in 2011 and 2014, has earned two previous Governor’s Twenty tabs in pistol and one in rifle.

 “I think our success is the result of mutual respect, healthy competitiveness, confidence and trust,” said Hunt. “While winning is nice and clearly the end goal, the camaraderie developed through months of training and competing is arguably the most satisfying aspect of being on the marksmanship team.”

The 19th Regiment team is comprised of volunteers who pay for their own ammunition, weapons and range-time. 

The competition is organized by the State Competitive Marksmanship (SCM) Program in the Texas National Guard. 

Texas signal leaders prepare for deployment

Story by: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted: March 29, 2015

Master Sgt. Daniel Griego Staff Sgt. Paul Rivera of the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducts grenade familiarization during the organization's Key Leader Pre-Mobilization Training March 25, 2015, at Camp Mabry in Bastrop, Texas. By conducting their training early, unit leaders will be able to help train and guide the battalion's main body personnel through the same lanes in June. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)
Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Staff Sgt. Paul Rivera of the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducts grenade familiarization during the organization's Key Leader Pre-Mobilization Training March 25, 2015, at Camp Mabry in Bastrop, Texas. By conducting their training early, unit leaders will be able to help train and guide the battalion's main body personnel through the same lanes in June. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)

BASTROP, Texas - The road to deployment is a long one for National Guard units, with months of preparatory training and administrative tasks to fulfill before the Department of Defense approves them for overseas service. The officers and noncommissioned officers of the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion got a head start on this process March 21-29 at Camp Swift with a specialized pre-mobilization training for leaders.

Twenty-four members of the signal battalion, which falls under the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), trained for more than a week on warriors skills like reacting to incoming fire, reacting to a vehicle rollover, grenade familiarization and others. 

“It’s a value to the unit,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Collins, command sergeant major for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, “that when the main body gets here, we can actually monitor what’s going on and we won’t have to be going through while they’re going through. We’re free to do all the administrative things we need to do and prep ourselves to go to the [mobilization] station.”

The leaders on site performing this training included the battalion commander, staff officers, senior noncommissioned officers, and mission-essential personnel who will be able to help guide the main body of the organization through the same drill lanes in June.

“We’ll be going to seven different countries across 32 different sites,” said 136th ESB Commander Lt. Col. Tanya Trout, “so we’re training on all the different areas of operation we could, from IED explosions to individual weapons training and individual movement techniques. We’ll have the big main body PMT in June and then we’ll hit the mobilization platform in July at Fort Hood.”

As a signal unit, the battalion’s primary mission will be to enable communications throughout the region, providing voice and network capabilities for their supported elements. The focus for the next few months, however, will be getting back to the basics of their warrior tasks and providing a tactically and physically fit team of Texas Guardsmen.

“A lot of us get stuck behind desks doing computer work,” said Trout. “It’s good to be out here and remember what it’s like to be a Soldier, to do your three to five second buddy rushes, individual weapons qualification, land navigation, all your basic Soldiering skills.”

The battalion will train through the end of the summer, finishing with a Culminating Training Exercise at Fort Hood to simulate their overseas mission prior to departing. This exercise will be the final certification of their hard work and preparations clearing them for combat service.

“Once we get to platform,” said WO1 Audrey Foushee, the battalion property book officer, “we’ll be validating equipment and personnel in preparation for and during the CTE.”

“The unit’s feeling good,” said Collins. “We know we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Texas Guard Soldier takes home top honors during Task Force Sinai quarterly competition

Story by: Sgt. Thomas Duval

Posted: March 19, 2015

Story courtesy of: Task Force Sinai

Sgt. Thomas Duval Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)
Sgt. Thomas Duval
Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

EL GORAH, Egypt — After being in the Sinai Desert supporting peace with the Multinational Force and Observers for less than a month, Spc. Tommy Ly has already taken the reins and set the standard for his peers.

Ly, a financial management technician assigned to the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment- currently operating as the Army’s U.S. Security Battalion in Sinai Egypt- won the Task Force Sinai Soldier of the Quarter Competition held here March 18, 2015. 

“I have always set high standards to push myself to be better and to win this is just a relief,” Ly, a Channelview, Texas, native said.

For Ly and the other hopefuls, the two-day event kicked off March 17th as Soldiers were tested on their Army knowledge with a written exam. 

Day Two of the competition began by testing each Soldier’s physical prowess during the Army Physical Fitness Test and continued as each competitor completed a number of situational training lanes. The lanes included weapons qualification, treating a casualty, calling in a nine-line medevac, and communications lane. Each participant was graded on their proficiency in each warrior task and given an overall score. 

That score was carried with the Soldiers as they entered the final obstacle- a formal board in front of their leaders. During the board, senior leaders from Task Force Sinai tested the nominees on their overall knowledge on more than 12 Army categories ranging from regulations to leader values. 

“I really learned a lot about myself throughout this competition,” Ly added. “Studying the different topics taught me what Army leadership is and I was able to pick up different leadership traits.” 

To make the situation more challenging, Ly only arrived to the Sinai three weeks prior to the competition and was told while unpacking that he would be selected to represent his unit. 

Ly, a four-year Army veteran who serves as part of the North Camp Response Team for the MFO, immediately started to study on his limited amount of off-time. Although the amount of dedication each Soldier put into preparing for the competition cannot accurately be measured Ly said he didn’t do it alone and instead attributes his success to his leaders who mentored him along the way.

His platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris, ensured Ly stayed motivated by challenging him on a daily basis. 

“I told him you better score a 270 or higher on your PT test or else you’re not going,” Harris said. “I even made him run with someone who I knew would push him.” 

Harris also challenged Ly with by reminding him of the unspoken rivalry between National Guard and active duty Soldiers. 

“There’s always been a rivalry between the guard and active duty,” Ly said. “It’s nice for us to win something like this.” 

At the end of the day, all of Ly’s sacrifices paid off but as he walked away with the title of ‘Best Soldier in the Desert’, for this quarter, he didn’t have time to celebrate. Instead he did what a true Soldier does and got right back to work.

TXMF Day at the Capitol

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: March 19, 2015

Picture of EventAUSTIN, Texas – The Texas legislature recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation, March 19, 2015, during Texas Military Forces Day at the Capitol in Austin.

As part of the day, legislators and their staff members spent time visiting with numerous guardsmen to discuss the roles and capabilities of the guard in Texas.

The TXMF used the day to showcase the force, which featured representatives from across the force, as well as two different rifle and pistol simulators. Organizers from the TXMF Government Affairs team said their goal was to increase awareness and understanding of the TXMF’s dual state and federal mission to both state representatives and the general public.

Visitors remained engaged dueling on the simulators and learning more about their Texas Guard.  Ana Ramon, chief of staff for state Representative Joe Farias (San Antonio), said she found it fascinating how so many different components came together to serve as one.

 “Often, decision making is done on a very superficial level,” Ramon said. “When you have someone you are talking to who lives it, who sees it every day, it gives you the drive and the motivation to dig deeper and find not just the cause, but what the systemic root of an issue is and how we can help that.”

 Guardsmen set up informational booths focusing specifically on the Army, Air and State Guards, the facilities and maintenance office, the Texas Challenge Academy, the Civil Support Team, Domestic Operations and the unique skill sets and capabilities each of these components provides. 

 “We wanted to make sure as many divisions in the National Guard and State Guard could be represented as possible,” said Jordy Keith, TXMF government affairs deputy director-state. “We wanted the legislators and the general public to see what the Texas National Guard and Texas State Guard does for Texas.”

 Many of the service members working the event took a break to visit the Senate, in session, where they received a standing ovation in thanks, by all representatives and member of the public present, for the service TXMF gives to both the state and nation.

 “I thought today went extremely well,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general – Texas, “They got to meet you all, they didn’t just see Nichols. They got to see the National Guard.”

 Just before the Senate session began, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stopped by the event to visit with the troops and thank them for their service.

 “America depends on a strong Texas,” said Patrick. “And a strong Texas relies on all of you.”

Texas Army National Guard’s MFTC validates Army’s one-school concept

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: March 3, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy Staff Sgt. Anthony Delagarza, a Master Fitness Trainer Course instructor, gives directions to soldiers before a round of guerrilla drills March 3, 2015, at Fort Hood, Texas, as part of the Master Fitness Trainer Course. About 20 National Guard and active duty Army soldiers began the final two weeks of training to become master fitness trainers to act as special advisers to unit commanders to facilitate physical training. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia M. Lacy/Released)
1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Staff Sgt. Anthony Delagarza, a Master Fitness Trainer Course instructor, gives directions to soldiers before a round of guerrilla drills March 3, 2015, at Fort Hood, Texas, as part of the Master Fitness Trainer Course. About 20 National Guard and active duty Army soldiers began the final two weeks of training to become master fitness trainers to act as special advisers to unit commanders to facilitate physical training. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia M. Lacy/Released)

FORT HOOD, Texas – Master Fitness Trainer Course instructors from the 2nd Battalion, 136th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Texas Army National Guard, continue to support the one-Army-school system through their multi-component training class.

The instructors hosted the fourth iteration of the course Feb. 22 – March 6, 2015, at Fort Hood. 

“Right now, the Army is working toward a one-Army-school system, which basically means that any soldier from any component can go to a school being taught by a different component,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Balderston, commandant for the Texas Army National Guard training institute. “This course validates the principle that it’s a joint effort between components.”

Traditionally, National Guard, active duty and Reserve soldiers attended the two-week, in-residence, Phase II portion of the training class at the Texas National Guard’s headquarters at Camp Mabry in Austin; however, for this iteration the course tested the Fort Hood location.

“Fort Hood’s III Corps is providing resources and we’re providing instructors, so it’s a win-win for everybody because they’re able to get their soldiers trained and we’re able to validate the one-Army-school system concept,” Balderston said about soldiers receiving training across components.

The course had a mix of five National Guard soldiers from Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri, and 15 active duty soldiers from numerous bases in Texas and Colorado.

The multi-component mixture in the class supported the total force Army concept, allowing soldiers from all components to work and train together.

“I look at it as a one team, one fight,” said Sgt. Jose Hamilton, a nodal network systems operator-maintainer with the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion based at Fort Bliss. “The instructors are Guard and they still come in with that military bearing ... you would expect from someone being in the Army, period.” 

The National Guard-led course is only one of five Master Fitness Trainer Course sites in the entire country, charged with training National Guard, active duty and Reserve soldiers to be master fitness trainers who can conduct physical readiness training for their units.


“The course is getting us ready to train our units on how to do the correct PRT to help our soldiers get better at fitness all around,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christi Stephens, the readiness noncommissioned officer for the 249th Transportation Company, Texas Army National Guard. “When we do PRT, we’ll do it the right way, so even if we have them for just one day and we do one hour, we can do it right and have that precision we’re supposed to have.”

Following the successful completion of the academically intense, two-week distance learning course and the two-week in-residence course, which is largely physical, the soldiers will be advisers to their unit commanders on all things PRT, as well as educating their peers on performance, nutrition, fitness and readiness.

While working through the training modules, soldiers learned about the principles of PRT – precision, progression and integration – that aid in reconditioning and reducing injuries.

“You’ve got to earn your precision before you can go to the progression phase of these movements,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shelley Horner, an MFTC instructor and the course’s noncommissioned officer in charge. “Injury prevention is one of the biggest things for MFTC. We are very specific. We make sure the students really know the standard and are able to take that back to their units and train the trainer.”

Master Fitness is part of the Army’s effort to increase soldier physical readiness, reduce injuries and standardize unit training by preparing soldiers for the physical challenges of fulfilling the mission in complex environments, while facing a range of threats, according to the Army Physical Readiness Training Field Manual 7-22. 

The MFTC is one of several courses offered by the RTI that is available to all soldiers regardless of component.

Texas National Guard’s 176th Engineer Brigade exercises total force concept with III Corps during warfighter exercise

 

Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy & Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: March 2, 2015

Courtesy Photo Soldiers with the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, during a Warfighter exercise at Fort Hood. During the three-week exercise, brigade soldiers provided engineer support to III Corps at Fort Hood.
Courtesy Photo
Soldiers with the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, during a Warfighter exercise at Fort Hood. During the three-week exercise, brigade soldiers provided engineer support to III Corps at Fort Hood.

FORT HOOD, Texas – The Texas Army National Guard’s 176th Engineer Brigade worked alongside its active duty partners at III Corps during a war fighter exercise Feb. 2-11, 2015, at Fort Hood. 

The exercise, a large-scale simulated war zone, not only tested the brigade’s capabilities, but also provided an opportunity to identify any gaps that can potentially affect responsiveness while maintaining a ready force.

“We’re doing the full spectrum of operations – combat support, combat service support and combat engineering,” said Col. Tracy Norris, commander, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard.

The brigade is traditionally a corps-level engineering asset, which means it can be attached to an Army corps and deployed in support of theater-level engineering operations. 

“This exercise has been really effective because the brigade is a corps-level asset and any opportunity to work side-by-side with an Army corps helps us to train on the skill sets we need in case we are called into action,” said Col. Charles Schoening, 176th Engineer Brigade deputy commander. 

The brigade’s integration with III Corps is part of the total force concept, integrating active, Reserve and National Guard components.

“It’s great having Colonel Norris and her team plugged in because it generates combat readiness for us,” said Col. Jim Markert, assistant chief of staff for Operations, III Corps. “It makes us better at III Corps and it makes them better, too.”

In the three-week exercise, the brigade trained on how to conduct operations from a headquarters level. This allowed the staff to do all the tasks they would need to do in a deployed environment.

The exercise took place at Fort Hood and Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, and encompassed numerous brigades, as well as staffs from the 1st and 38th Infantry Divisions. The simulated warfare spread across a notional country the size of Afghanistan. 

Given the scope and fast-paced nature of the exercise, the brigade demonstrated its ability to succeed in any task or mission given to them, said Markert.

One unique capability of the brigade is their multi-role bridging company. With only two of these companies in the active duty component, training with this asset is a valuable opportunity for units like III Corps.

“A highlight for me was using their bridging assets,” said Markert. “In an offensive operation, we have to; we can’t do it without bridging assets. We are absolutely reliant on them if we go right into a big war.”

“This exercise was important because it demonstrates our capabilities of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the active duty,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general-Texas. “We owe a great big thank you to III Corps for taking us under their wing and look forward to continuing this partnership.”

Texas Air, Army and State Guard vie for Governor’s Twenty tab

Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: Feb 26, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

BASTROP, Texas – It was a show of joint camaraderie, but also friendly competition as Texas Air, Army and State Guardsmen shared the common interest of putting bullets down range. 

About two dozen Guardsmen converged at Camp Swift near Bastrop for the Governor’s Twenty sniper competition Feb. 20-22, 2015.

The three-day shooting event is one of four state-level marksmanship matches held throughout the year to determine the top 20 marksmen who comprise that year’s Governor’s Twenty and earning the coveted Governor’s Twenty tab.

The tab is a state-level marksmanship award for the top 20 shooters in the state. It is awarded to the top eight pistol marksmen, two snipers, eight riflemen, and two machine gunners.

In addition to providing a venue for Guardsmen to compete among their peers throughout the state, the marksmen competitions allow another avenue for them to receive valuable training.

“There’s no better training than going out,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Brors, 204 Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. “When we do unknown distance, it’s our ranges, so whether we put up the targets or not, I know what the different distances are, but coming out here I really have to use the training we’ve been taught.”

Most often, troops only shoot to qualify a few times a year, if that; however, the matches provide vital training and an opportunity for soldiers and airmen to hone their marksman skills, a critical portion of their job. 

“The sniper is growing in importance,” Sgt. Craig Feldschneider, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “It’s one of the most important things we have on the battlefield.”

For Army snipers, their training ends when they complete the Army Sniper School with no opportunities for advanced training.

“We top out at sniper school,” said Sgt. Chase Smith, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “The field is always changing. There are new formulas and new ways of doing things.”

During each competition, participants vie for the possibility to travel to the Winston P. Wilson rifle and pistol championships at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Joseph T. Robinson near Little Rock, Arkansas.

Following the competition in Arkansas, the chief of the National Guard Bureau awards the Chief’s Fifty Marksmanship badge to the top 35 in combat rifle, 10 in combat pistol, three machine gunners and two snipers.

“If we do good here, the Arkansas match is where your skillset gets pushed,” Smith said. “You have to pull every skill together to make it work. If you’re just a good shot, you won’t do good at all. You have to incorporate everything at the same time.”

Though pistol marksmen, riflemen and machine gunners can move on to compete for the President’s 100 tab, the competition for snipers ends at the WPW match.

“Snipers top out at Arkansas,” Smith said. “You can get the Chief’s 50, but you can’t get the President’s 100 tab.”

In addition to the Governor’s 20 tab, soldiers and airmen can earn points toward Excellence in Competition badges, ranging from a bronze and silver badge to the Distinguished Rifleman and Distinguished Pistol Shot badges.

“This event is a great thing and we love doing it because it’s a chance to bring a lot of people together from the state that all have common interests and common occupations,” Feldschneider said. “We can come out here and put some rounds down range and everybody has fun. It’s competitive, but it’s friendly.”

The state hosted the pistol match in late January. The rifle competition is set for late March