Posts in Category: Texas Military Department

ANG Texans Welcome New Commander

The 136th Airlift Wing celebrated two wing leaders during a combined change of command and retirement ceremony here Sunday.

Texas Air National Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Matthew Barker officiated the ceremony in which Col. Matthew Groves assumed command from Col. David Compton, and Compton retired after 32 years of service.

“The 136th has been on a winning streak lately, there’s no doubt about it,” Barker said. “That’s because of the men and women in formation here, and also because of the exceptional leadership of Col. David Compton.”

Barker recapped highlights of the 136th AW’s history, noting the wing was the first Air National Guard unit to enter combat. He also applauded the wing for its most recent accomplishments, including the unit being selected as home of a new aeromedical evacuation mission, completing 90 percent of the conversion from C-130H to J models, and exceeding 200,000 safe flying hours, all while providing continued support to the Texas border mission, Operation Lone Star.

Barker spoke of Groves’ diverse background, commenting that Groves is equally comfortable leading the combat mission in the desert or walking the halls of power in the Pentagon.

“All of his diverse background is going to serve the 136th AW very well,” Barker said. “I’ve seen his passion for the mission and the Airmen.
“I challenge you to uphold this wing’s great legacy and unleash the power of these great Texas Airmen,” he added.

After he assumed command, Groves thanked the members of the 136th, fellow wing leaders, and his family.

“I am truly grateful to stand with you who have raised your right hand and sworn to defend the constitution of the United States of America,” he said. “I am grateful for your time that you do not have to give. I am grateful for your sacrifices and those of your loved ones. I am grateful for your sense of service.”
Groves spoke on complex, dynamic challenges, both globally and locally, for which the Texans may be called upon.

“You know all of this and yet you step forward and you continue to serve with passion and professionalism,” he said. “I say to every member of this wing, ‘Thank you, be ready, we’re going to need you.’”

In his new role, Groves will command a wing of more than 1,000 Citizen Airmen.

He previously served as the 136th AW vice wing commander. Prior to joining the TXANG, he served as the deputy director of plans and programs at the National Guard Bureau, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

The 136th AW is one of three flying units in the Texas Air National Guard, with a mission to provide highly trained, equipped, and motivated military forces for worldwide combat and peacetime tasking while flying and maintaining eight C-130J aircraft.

Task Force Mustang increases equal opportunity leadership overseas

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – The 36th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), currently deployed as “Task Force Mustang,” appreciated and recognized 16 of its Soldiers for completing the Equal Opportunity Leaders Course (EOLC) on Oct. 14.

The Soldiers were appointed to serve as Equal Opportunity Leaders (EOLs) within their first month in theater as part of Task Force Mustang’s mission to provide full-spectrum Army aviation operations for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in the Middle East.

The Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program commonly defines a comprehensive effort to maximize human potential and fair treatment for all Soldiers, family members, and DA civilians without regard to race, color, sex (to include gender identity), religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Task Force Mustang’s EOLs are taking on the additional duty to promote safe and inclusive work environments, and help resolve informal complaints regarding any perceived unlawful discrimination and offensive behaviors in its ranks.

U.S. Army Col. Scott P. Nicholas, commander of Task Force Mustang, expressed his appreciation for the EOLs and how they will support daily operations.

“Regardless of location, number of locations, or type of duty orders our Soldiers receive, every Army aviation unit makes promoting the Army Values a top priority in every workplace, and it starts with training,” said Nicholas. “Task Force Mustang now has an EO program that will deliver that training and amplify awareness, so that our teams remain mission-focused on supporting our partnered forces in the enduring defeat of ISIS.”

Leading the 16 EOLs for Task Force Mustang is U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mildred A. Restrepo, retention NCO and EO leader for the aviation brigade’s command team. She hosted the EOLC and assisted MEO advisors with certifying the Soldiers’ additional duty.

“It’s great to serve as the EOL for Task Force Mustang,” said Restrepo. “It is a privilege to get to serve as the eyes and ears for the brigade commander, and it is most rewarding when our Soldiers and leaders can resolve potential EO complaints at the lowest level.”

Restrepo is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, previously serving as the S-1 non-commissioned officer in-charge for the 11th CAB “Task Force Eagle” before the 36th CAB took over their mission last summer. In her civilian career back home, she serves as a police officer for the NYPD.

“I knew I was going to stay for a second tour overseas, but I knew I was not going to be able to keep my same duty in human resources,” she said. “Task Force Mustang saw a benefit to having me serve in their EO office at the time, so it worked out where I could stay and help strengthen the brigade’s EO network.”

Restrepo noted that her EOL training allows her to provide input to the commander with regards to informal complaints.

“Our EOLs are here to serve as resources to all Soldiers, and are ready to take anonymous or informal complaints, while certified MEO Advisors can directly facilitate formal complaints,” she added. “All Soldiers have the right to choose their type of complaint reports, and our EOLs are always there to educate them about their options, as well as support workplace condition checks for their respective unit leaders.”

Numbers in EO complaints easily vary based on mission and deployment durations.

“The highest number of informal complaints we’ve received has been four within a given week, and there have been a couple weeks where we’ve received no complaints at all, which is great,” Restrepo shared. “There have also been instances where a Soldier’s complaint was potentially turning into a formal one, but the Soldier was able to get it resolved with their immediate supervisor, thanks to the unit leader’s attention and the EOL involved.”

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Acie Matthews, operations NCO and MEO Advisor for CJTF-OIR, serves as the coordinator of all EO programs assigned across OIR’s Combined/Joint Operations Area (CJOA).

“EOLs are selected and trusted by their commanders to keep a pulse on the climate and culture of their units,” Matthews stated. “Our goal for EOLs is to have them be an extension of their commander’s ear to the unit and be a voice of the unit to the commander and other leaders. When not dealing with informal complaints, EOLs are tagged with executing their primary military duties, and that varies greatly across the team.”

Matthews brings to CJTF-OIR several years of EO experience, both stateside and overseas.

“Being an MEO Advisor is a very rewarding and humbling position. People are our most valuable resource, so providing support for their rights to be treated with dignity and respect is an absolute honor,” said Matthews. “Prior to this deployment, I served as the Minnesota National Guard State MEO Advisor, and I enjoyed supporting the Soldiers and Airmen during that time.”

He remarked how well Task Force Mustang was heading in the right direction for their EO program.

“Task Force Mustang is unique in that its responsibilities spread across multiple locations, in multiple countries, across the CJOA. Maintaining consistent messaging across such a vast area is challenging,” he added. “However, EOLs across Task Force Mustang are fired up and excited about the opportunity to support their respective commanders’ missions. While deployed, Soldiers are subject to U.S. Army regulations and reporting procedures, which differ slightly from National Guard Bureau’s processes. However, with dignity and respect being the drumbeat, these EOLs are seamlessly integrating the Title 10 rules into their battle rhythms.”

Restrepo couldn’t agree more with Matthews over the importance of their EO teams serving as a support channel to Soldiers.

“Towards the end of a deployment, it’s very common to see an increase in concerns and complaints,” Restrepo shared. “Everything is a fresh start at the beginning of a year-long mission. But, when daily routines change or several things do not go as planned throughout the mission—quality of life changes, resource reductions, Soldiers not talking to other Soldiers, leadership engagements perceived as less common, or Soldiers not letting go over their cultural differences or holding onto their complaints for months—all these things can affect discipline and unit morale. So, our EOLs will prove vital to safeguarding the professionalism and respect between Soldiers and their chain of command.”

To achieve MEO requirements, Restrepo says EO awareness classes will be completed by all Task Force Mustang Soldiers within the next month, and that 15 more Soldiers will complete the EOLC before the start of the new year. Task Force Mustang will have had every company level to brigade level leadership fully supported by EOLs for the rest of its deployment.

“And that’s what we want,” Restrepo concluded. “We want all unit leaders to be able to communicate with their Soldiers about any inequality concerns and have them resolve potential issues at the lowest level possible. EO complaints can happen anytime, but our EOLs will always be there to assist in maintaining a safe and welcoming work environment for everyone until mission complete.”

The 54th SFAB: the National Guard’s security force advisors

National Guard Bureau--Courtesy Story
Capt. Madison Bips, a member of the Georgia National Guard's 1st Battalion of the 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade, returns a salute from a member of the Honduran Armed Forces, Sept. 8, near Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Bips was deployed to Honduras as part of the 54th SFAB's 6-month deployment to Honduras providing security force assistance, which was the first National Guard deployment of its kind. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes)

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras – The 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade recently made history as the first National Guard unit of its kind to activate and deploy in support of combatant command missions.

Activated in March of 2020, the 54th SFAB is headquartered in Indiana and has six battalions in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas. While the five active component SFABs are directly aligned under combatant commands, such as United States Southern Command or United States European Command, the Army Guard SFAB is globally focused and capable of deploying Soldiers to support missions anywhere in the world.

Recently, members of the Georgia National Guard 1st Battalion, 54th SFAB, completed a deployment to Honduras, making them the first National Guard members to deploy as an SFAB.

“The whole intent of having a security force assistance brigade is to assist our partner nations and foreign security forces,” said Col. Jeff Hackett, who commanded the 54th SFAB from its activation until last year.

SFAB Personnel

In addition to the unique nature of the SFAB mission, its manning is also one of its defining characteristics. SFAB Soldiers are all volunteers, hand-selected from other units across all 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia.

“The way the SFAB is set up is to try to get more mature individuals that already have their key leader development time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dean DeAngelo, the senior battalion logistics noncommissioned officer, Georgia Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 54th SFAB. “The whole idea behind it is to be able to advise your partner forces two levels up from your current position.”

The brigade also differs from the traditional Army force structure in accomplishing its advising mission. The advisor teams are typically comprised of between four and 12 Soldiers and operate much more autonomously than conventional forces, based on their partner force needs.

These teams are broken down into:

● Maneuver advising Teams
● Field artillery advising team
● Engineer advising teams
● Logistics advising teams






The Selection Process

There are two ways soldiers can join an SFAB.

For immediate eligibility, Soldiers must be the rank of sergeant first class or above and have completed key and developmental positions, such as platoon sergeant for an infantryman. Upon completion of requirements, Soldiers are eligible to be selected through an interview with SFAB leadership.

Soldiers that do not meet these criteria must pass a rigorous five-day assessment and selection. The selection entails an Army Combat Fitness Test, a leader reaction course, team events, a warrior skills test, military occupational skill proficiency and ethical dilemma tests, a subject matter expert interview, and culminates with a ruck march.

“We are getting Soldiers that are senior leaders already, but not everybody is cut out for the SFAB,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Makaryk, commander of the 1-54th SFAB, adding that the success rate of the selection process is not high.

In Makaryk’s Battalion, the average enlisted advisor is 31 years old with 10 years of service and an associate degree. The average officer advisor is 36, with 13 years of service and a master’s degree. Most also have two to three years of deployment experience as well, said Capt. Madison Bips, the unit’s operations officer.

Specialized Training

The SFAB training cycle also differs from Army Guard’s traditional training schedule. Rather than attending training for the traditional one weekend a month and an annual training event, they train one week a fiscal quarter and attend an annual training event.

In addition to the yearly training, SFAB Soldiers are given specialized training opportunities. Soldiers assigned to advisor positions complete the 54-day Combat Advisor Training course at the Military Advisor Training Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia. On top of that, many SFAB members receive cultural and language familiarity training and training on foreign weapons, advanced medical training, driver training, and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape techniques.

In addition to their domestic training, SFAB Soldiers also participate in numerous foreign training exercises.


“What drew me to the SFAB was the opportunity to stand up a unit from the ground up in the Guard and being able to go on overseas training,” said DeAngelo. During his four years with the SFAB, he trained in Brazil as part of Exercise Southern Vanguard in 2021 and deployed to Honduras with the SFAB in 2022.

Now that he has surpassed the three-year mark as an SFAB member, he has reached the end of his time with the unit. But this is by design —the SFAB is structured to return its advisors to the force as more seasoned professionals.

“It’s time for me to move on and take my experience from the SFAB and take it back to the conventional force,” he said.

Families serving together to help Texas

Story by Master Sgt. John Gately, Texas State Guard

Warrant Officer Hopper and his sons
Left: Pvt. Samuel Hopper, Center: Warrant Officer Hopper, Right: Cpl. Grant Hopper 

The military is no stranger to having many generations of family members serving, from great-grandparents to current service members.  The Texas State Guard is also part of this time-honored tradition.  However, due to the nature of the State Guard, it is more common to see families serving together at the same time than with other military organizations.

Although family members serving together is happening across the State Guard, today’s focus is the T6-Shop. Currently, the T6-shop has four families serving together to support a common goal for the Guard and for the State of Texas.

The Hopper family has three members currently serving in different roles within T6.  Warrant Officer Andy Hopper joined the State Guard on Oct 25, 2014, and is the father of two current troops, Cpl. Grant Hopper who serves on the Radio Operations, and Pvt. Samuel Hopper serves on the Software Testing team for the Readiness Management System (RMS).

When asked what it means to him to serve alongside his two sons, Warrant Officer Hopper stated, “Having the opportunity to serve with my boys in the greatest and most robust state military force in the country is a unique privilege and a pleasure. Throughout Texas history, the backbone of our state military has been families standing together for their rights and their homes. I am so proud to say that the Hoppers stand to serve Texas.”

Always looking for new members to serve in our ranks, one of our newest has hit the ground running with recruitment. Cpl. Tatiana Spence joined the State Guard a little over a month ago, and she has talked her brother, Orrin Spence, into joining the T6 shop as well.  Orrin just left the Texas Army National Guard as a Staff Sergeant after serving 12 years and is one of the Texas Military Department’s webmasters. He will be swearing-in next month. Once Orrin swears in, he will be joining Programming Operations alongside his sister.  She’s not stopping there; Cpl. Spence is now setting her focus on getting her husband to join our ranks.

Did you know that you could join the Texas State Guard at the age of 17? Warrant Officer John Turner did and is swearing in his son on his 17th

Warrant Officer Turner and his son
Left: Warrant Officer John Turner, Right: Luke Turner

birthday. This is not the only child that Warrant Officer Turner has serving in uniform. His second-oldest son was planning to join the State Guard until the United State Army made a better offer. When asked what it is like serving with his son, he replied, “It’s an honor to serve my state and help people when needs arise. It makes you feel good about what you do. As a father it makes me shine with gratitude that my children have that same desire to help others. I’m proud of my young men. It is even more special when we get to serve and build this legacy together.” Warrant Officer John Turner serves in Programming Operations.

Another example from the T6-Shop is Master Sgt. John Gately, who joined the State Guard on July 1, 2010. His son Warrant Officer Jacob Gately followed in his footsteps just a few years later, joining on January 26, 2013. Warrant Officer Gately currently serves in Programming Operations and Master Sgt. Gately is the NCOIC for T6 and the Product Manager of RMS.  
 
These four families have a combined service of well over 50 years in uniform. 
 

Cannot stop the fight: Texas Counterdrug helps take down drug networks in 2021

Story by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie, Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force

Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie | Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force support Red Ribbon Week flying to schools across Texas to help spread the word about the dangers of drug use. 

AUSTIN, Texas – During the past two years, life as we had grown accustomed to has drastically changed. From a global pandemic to several calls for National Guard support, the members of the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force have adjusted and thrived.

When the COVID-19 virus shut the country down, law enforcement agencies had to come up with new ways to detect, interdict and disrupt drug trafficking in the state without operations slowing down.

“One of the first things I did was reach out to our law enforcement partners stating that we would continue to be by their side and assist,” said Lt. Col. Erika Besser, the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Coordinator. “Continuity of our support is critical. If they are out there, we are out there.

“Sometimes that meant thinking of new and different ways to maintain our support, like working remotely. My preference will always be working side by side because collaboration and interaction are pivotal to successful partnerships, but we had to balance that with safety concerns.”

Members of the Texas Counterdrug Task Force have come up with new ways to stay relevant and fight the threat as they have for more than 30 years.

During 2021, although there were different challenges, service members still supported law enforcement in seizing more than $350 million in drugs, bulk cash, vehicles and property, as well as nearly 4,200 weapons. The increase from 2020 numbers of $290 million and 3,100 weapons, shows that as the environment adapts, so do the techniques of catching the bad guys.

“The last few years have challenged our normal collaboration process to support law enforcement agencies,” said Maj. Robert Anspaugh, Executive Officer for Texas Counterdrug. “But we are used to working across the entire state and found ways to stay engaged, utilizing new tools and skills harnessed by serving in the military, to continue providing excellent support to our partners.”

Another way of increasing the illicit revenue denial was to bring back a capability that had been used in other ways. The Air National Guard RC-26 fixed-wing aircraft had been supporting other missions in Texas and abroad, but in 2021, RC-26 came back home to Counterdrug.

The RC-26 program, along with the Counterdrug Aviation Element of LUH-72 Lakota helicopters, increased support from 570 flight hours in 2020 to 1,130 flight hours which directly supported law enforcement agencies.

“Having the RC-26 program back on Counterdrug orders has allowed us another aerial platform with similar capabilities but can be used in conjunction with each other or separately,” said Besser. “We have been able to expand our support all over the state, in multiple locations at once.”

The adjustments in tactics and capabilities have led to seizures that significantly impacted drug-trafficking organizations in Texas and Mexico.

In north Texas, Counterdrug analysts supported the Drug Enforcement Administration in taking down a methamphetamine ring helping seize nearly 1,600 pounds at a value of more than $16 million and arresting 13 drug-trafficking organization members. Another case resulted in seizing 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine and another seven arrests.

In west Texas, Counterdrug task force members assisted in a $5 million liquid methamphetamine seizure that linked suspects to a previous seizure in Oklahoma. Link chart analysis in a different case resulted in finding nearly 500 pounds of marijuana and 160 pounds of methamphetamine.

In east Texas, the Texas Counterdrug Ground Reconnaissance Detachment supported DEA for weeks as they conducted area observation to gather critical vehicle confirmations, patterns of life and helped identify suspected narcotics supplier locations resulting in the seizure of cocaine, cannabis, bulk cash and weapons.

“Changes in the operational environment affect how drug-trafficking organizations do business,” said Anspaugh. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we must anticipate these changes to stay a step ahead and continue disrupting the flow of drugs into our state and nation.”

Along with analysis, Texas Counterdrug increased their Drug Demand Reduction Outreach program placing personnel in each of the four High-intensity Drug Trafficking Area prevention initiatives leading to an increase of 40% in events. DDRO handed out 300,000 Red Ribbon bracelets in support of the DEA’s Red Ribbon Week honoring fallen agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and spoke to 9,000 students across the state.

An enduring mission for the Texas Counterdrug Task Force is supporting two Texas ChalleNGe Academy classes each year. During the acclimation phase, service members mentor at-risk youth to get back on the right track.

Texas Counterdrug has a long history of helping law enforcement fight drug trafficking, manufacturing and distribution, and 2021 wasn’t any different. Now that 2022 is here, the program will continue to endure, coming up with innovative ways to face new challenges.

“We will continue to put effort into influencing at the national level, and into growing and evolving in order to have the most effective impact possible,” said Besser. “We have several initiatives in the works, which will benefit not only Counterdrug programs nationally, but also our law enforcement partners across Texas and other states, namely those facing specific challenges associated with the southern border.”

Texas National Guard hosts Egyptian Armed Forces for state partnership summit

Egyptian Delegation
Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington | The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris. The weeklong summit provided a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the Egypt-Texas partnership and learn more about each other's respective organizations. The Texas National Guard formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington) 

10.04.2021
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington 
Texas Military Department  

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris.

Texas formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. The ETIS is the first senior leader summit between the two organizations since the partnership began.

“This weeklong summit provides a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the partnership,” said William Duff, Senior Advisor for Political-Military and International Affairs for the Texas Military Department.

During the summit, attendees participated in a two-day conference in Austin, discussing their respective organizations, security challenges, areas of cooperation, and future subject matter expert exchanges.

Areas of emphasis for future exchanges will include the C-130J Super Hercules airlift and F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter operations, AH-64 Apache helicopter flight maneuver and maintenance, cyber defense, logistics, special forces, homeland security response, military support to civilian authorities, and humanitarian and disaster assistance response.

“The exchanges between our militaries will make both our forces stronger, build our interoperability, and diversify our formations,” said Norris. “And these exchanges don’t just benefit Egypt and Texas. They benefit CENTCOM’s strategic objectives and the overall U.S.-Egypt relationship.”

Since June’s signing ceremony, as part of the SPP, Texas And Egypt have already facilitated five subject matter expert exchanges focused on the commanders’ resilience program, cavalry scout tactics, civil disturbance operations, explosive ordnance operations, and marksmanship.

“Conducting five training events in a relatively short time is concrete evidence that the partnership is developing really quick,” said Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fekry, Deputy Education and Training Commander, Egyptian Training Authority.

The summit also provided the opportunity to build upon the longstanding relationship Texas and Egypt already have.

Since 2006, the Texas National Guard has contributed troops to five rotations of the Multinational Force and Observers, an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai peninsula that oversees the terms of the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

More recently, Texas Guardsmen participated for the second time in Exercise Bright Star, a multilateral Egyptian and U.S.-led multinational exercise designed to enhance regional security and stability by responding to present-day security scenarios.

“Partnership with Texas is an expansion to the strategic partnership with the U.S., a great partnership that lasts over four decades where military and security cooperation are the milestone of the relation between the two countries” said Fekry.

The summit also familiarized Egyptian partners with the TXNG’s facilities and capabilities. The visit included an orientation flight on the Texas National Guard’s newest aircraft, the C-130J and tours of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and the Texas National Guard Regional Training Institute.

“Texas owns great potentials in all fields and excels in some areas such as [unmanned aerial vehicles], intelligence, education, and supporting their civil community,” said Fekry. “Texas and Egypt have great capabilities and expertise that may help both sides achieve mutual benefits.”

The Texas National Guard has state partnerships with the Czech Republic and Chile, routinely conducting exchanges and joint operations.

“Texas has the most experienced troops we’ve ever seen. In the last several years we’ve contributed to numerous overseas deployments, multilateral training, civil disturbance operations, COVID-19 response, natural disasters, and border support.” said Norris. “The timing is perfect for this partnership, Egypt is getting the best skills we have to offer.”

MG Federico Lopez III Story

MG Frederico


HARLINGEN, Texas – Retired Maj. Gen. Federico Lopez III, the first Hispanic commander-general of the 49th Armored Division, passed away Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Texas Guardsmen came together to honor their brother in arms with full military honors.  Lopez was laid to rest at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Lopez served with the Texas National Guard for more than 38 years, beginning as a platoon leader with the 4-144th Infantry Regiment starting in February 1963 and retiring in 1998.

Lopez is survived by his wife, Enriqueta "Keta" Lopez, and two daughters, Laura and Melissa.

"My uncle was extremely influential on our family," a member of the Lopez family said. "He taught us to work hard and value service to the nation."

MG Frederico Lopez IIILopez assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the 49th Armored Division in 1990 and led the division in 1995. Lopez focused his efforts on increasing the quality of training in the force. In a 1997 report with Armor Magazine on the state of the 49th Armored Division, Lopez explained his philosophy:

"Do less better." said Lopez. "Stop trying to do more with less."

This philosophy led to relocating weekend drills away from Texas armories to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where infantry units and armor units would participate in combined drills to take advantage of top-of-the-line simulation technology.

Lopez helped modernize the division by upgrading the division with M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. In addition, thousands of Texas Soldiers deployed under Lopez's command supported peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and supported efforts in Germany and Australia.

Lopez also mentored partner military leaders through the State Partnership Program. The program was established to developed relationships between state national Guards and allied nations. Texas leaders like Lopez worked together helping prepare the nation to enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which occurred in 1999, shortly after Lopez retired.

"Major General Lopez had a monumental impact on the Texas National Guard, said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. "His leadership and innovation helped shape our force for the future. We are where we are today because of people like him."

Texas Counterdrug leads the way in the technical field, assists HSI succeed in its mission

Story by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie 
Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force 

Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force communications support member, Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, works on cutting-edge electronic equipment to support the Homeland Security Investigations Technical Operations Unit catch drug trafficking organizations in El Paso, Texas. Texas Counterdrug has supported federal, state and local law enforcement throughout the state for more than 30 years in the war on drugs.
Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force communications support member, Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, works on cutting-edge electronic equipment to support the Homeland Security Investigations Technical Operations Unit catch drug trafficking organizations in El Paso, Texas. Texas Counterdrug has supported federal, state and local law enforcement throughout the state for more than 30 years in the war on drugs.

EL PASO, Texas – In a world where technological advances have become a part of many people’s everyday life, these Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force members must ensure they are ahead of the game, or they will fall behind to the drug trafficking organizations they are trying to help dismantle.

For the past four years, Texas Counterdrug has supported the Technical Operations Unit of Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso and its contribution has paid high dividends.

“The Technical Operations Unit provides HSI components with the most innovative, cutting-edge electronic surveillance equipment and support in furtherance of criminal investigations and national security operations,” said HSI El Paso Group Supervisor Efren Aguilera, who oversees Tech Ops.

The support that Texas Counterdrug members, Army Staff Sgt. Jose Pena and Air Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, provide for the Tech Ops Unit has no limits.

“They assist with the everyday functions of the Tech Shop that includes fabricating enclosures, function testing and issuing electronic equipment to special agents,” said Aguilera. “They support the office with radio operability functions and assist with surveillance operations. In a nutshell, they provide a wide spectrum of support.”

When Pena and Pando were assigned to the group 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 years ago respectively, they had interest in the mission but were not fully capable – yet.

“The way we were able to learn and become more proficient of the job was due to on-the-job training and exposure to the experience Technical Enforcement Officers have,” said Pena. “We had plenty of hands-on training.”

Now, Pena and Pando are providing essential instruction to agents on proper deployment, use and exploitation of various pieces of covert technical surveillance equipment.

“We pass on our experience to others by informing agents how to utilize equipment properly for their operations,” said Pena. “We also assist them in making key decisions on what specific device is the most adequate pertaining to the related case and environment.”

How they accomplish this support is even more intriguing.

“We have, several times, designed, fabricated and constructed fully customized enclosures utilizing various combinations of Plexiglas, fiberglass, metal, wood, 3D printed parts, customized decals, and paint to fully conceal,” said Pena. “All fabrications and constructions met and exceeded specifications for temperature and humidity.”

The Texas Counterdrug support not only provides HSI with additional technical support, but it allows for licensed HSI officers to return to the operational field.

“They're a force multiplier,” said Aguilera. “HSI El Paso is an extremely busy office and having National Guard support the Tech Ops Unit is a huge benefit. The Tech shop is a small unit with a big mission, so having Pena and Pando as part of the team, has been a relief.”

As an Air Force veteran, Aguilera knows what the service members bring to Tech Ops and beyond.

“In my experience, you can always count on National Guard personnel getting the job done in a timely manner and with minimal guidance,” said Aguilera. “The mission is in a better place with the partnership fostered with the National Guard, not only for Tech Ops, but for the other HSI programmatic areas for which they offer support.”

Tech Ops and Counterdrug must always improve; thinking outside the box to build new products and how they can implement them.

“They are hardworking task force members who go above and beyond, learning new ways to create new products to put in new devices,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gilberto Urbina, a Texas Counterdrug assistant team leader.

These capabilities support HSI, but also several law enforcement agencies in their area ranging from Deming, New Mexico, and reaching far into the Texas plains. They also provide support for nationwide cases.

“Our capabilities within Tech Ops would include support to the whole HSI El Paso area of responsibility with specialty technical equipment for HSI cases,” said Pando. “As well, we assist Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety with equipment.”

The task force members are not content where they are now, Pena and Pando want to keep training and moving forward to support HSI even more.

“We want more advanced training that benefits the members,” said Urbina. “For example, we’d like high-voltage training and media exploitation devices.”

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state have witnessed the expertise, commitment and dedication that the Counterdrug task force members have brought to their offices for more than 30 years.

“I respect the professionalism of the National Guard personnel,” said Aguilera. “I look forward to the continued partnership with Counterdrug.”

It is clear that the HSI Tech Ops Unit is one of the best in the country and Staff Sergeants Pena and Pando have had a crucial role in that success.

“Nationwide, HSI El Paso consistently ranks among the top in overall enforcement statistics,” said Aguilera. “These are the successes we share with our partner agencies to include the National Guard.”

TXSG Colonel retires after 45 years of service

By 1LT Johnathan Winston, Texas State Guard

AUSTIN, Texas –  Colonel John Adams has retired after 16 years of service to the Texas State Guard and 45 total years of uniformed service.  His retirement ceremony took place on October 24, 2020 at Camp Mabry. 

Adams most recently served as the Texas State Guard’s senior personnel officer from 2016 to 2020, and he is recognized as one of the most important figures in the Guard’s ongoing transformation and professionalization.

Maj. Gen. Robert Bodisch, Commanding General of the Texas State Guard, praised Adams’ service to Texas and the United States during his speech at the ceremony.  

Bodisch used the words “leadership, integrity, and dedication” to describe Adams, a man whom he said fits the definition of being a “real hero” after a lengthy and storied career.

Adams’ uniformed service began in 1966, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Adams served on a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam.   During his tour, he received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, among other awards.

Adams then returned to Texas, completed studies at Sam Houston State University, and resumed his Army service as a Second Lieutenant in 1973.  He went on to serve as an active duty helicopter pilot, followed by multiple senior level staff and leadership positions in the Army Reserve.  

In October 2000, Adams volunteered for service as the military assistant to the political advisor for the commander of Allied forces in Kosovo.

His dedication and thoroughness were evident throughout the assignment- culminating in successful negotiations to win the release of six Serbian hostages.

Adams brought his pedigree for excellence into the Texas State Guard, which he joined in 2004 after leaving the Army Reserve.  

Whether he was planning and coordinating deployments for hurricanes, or streamlining awards and promotions, Adams was known to members of the TXSG community as the consummate professional- and as an individual who inspired confidence and respect.

“You have served your state and your country well and we owe you a huge debt of gratitude,” Bodisch said in his closing remarks.  “You might retire, but you will always be part of the family.”

More information about joining the TXSG can be found at https://tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

A Message to the Force from the Joint Chiefs of Staff

 
This message is sent on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
 
The American people have trusted the Armed Forces of the United States to protect them and our Constitution for almost 250 years. As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civil authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
 
The violent riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process. We mourn the deaths of the two Capitol policemen and others connected to these unprecedented events.
 
We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.
 
As Service Members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law.
 
On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief.
 
To our men and women deployed and at home, safeguarding our country—stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission. We honor your continued service in defense of every American.
 
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