Posts in Category: Texas Air National Guard

147th ASOS completes first full mission profile with Czech FACS

147th ASOS completes first full mission profile with Czech FACS

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: April 13, 2016

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy Tactical air control party members with the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, 147th Reconnaissance Wing, pose as a 357th Fighter Squadron A-10 Warthog from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, flies overhead April 12, 2016. The battlefield airmen traveled to the desert range in Gila Bend for a weeklong simulated deployment with their Czech partners. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Tactical air control party members with the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, 147th Reconnaissance Wing, pose as a 357th Fighter Squadron A-10 Warthog from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, flies overhead April 12, 2016. The battlefield airmen traveled to the desert range in Gila Bend for a weeklong simulated deployment with their Czech partners. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

About two dozen tactical air control party members from the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and four Czech forward air controllers completed a full-mission profile April 16, 2016, in Gila Bend, Arizona, for an annual National Guard State Partnership Program exchange.

The Texas National Guard has been paired with the Czech Republic since 1993 and has completed hundreds of engagements in the U.S. and in the Czech Republic to support the security cooperation objectives of the U.S. European Command commander.

For this year’s exercise, the battlefield airmen were able to mimic a cradle-to-grave, full squadron deployment, combining all warfighting elements from ground skills to air skills and close air support training with live fire. 

“Typically, we piecemeal our training,” said Capt. Steven Kroll, 147th ASOS director of operations, so the weeklong deployment allowed the airmen to merge all their full mission set capabilities within one mock, joint mobilization.

In a typical deployment for a TACP or joint terminal attack controller, the airman integrates with an Army ground unit and provides the expertise on air power and how to best use it, whether in combat or humanitarian operations.

Once, the TACPs are attached to the Army unit, the commander can task out close air support missions for the airmen to engage the enemy, neutralize threats and keep the troops on the ground safe by matching the correct ordnance with the targets.

In addition to working with their coalition partners from the Czech Republic, the Texas airmen worked with active duty A-10s, F-35s and F-16s for live-fire, close air support controls, and with the Arizona National Guard’s 2nd Battalion (Assault), 285th Aviation Regiment’s UH-60 Blackhawks during a simulated key leader engagement that included airlift of the leaders, a quick reaction force, and extraction of all parties in combat conditions. 

Altogether, the airmen completed nearly 100 controls, utilizing a mixture of live ordnance. 

The Czech FACs possess the same combat skill set as the TACPs, so the training provided an opportunity to exchange tactics and procedures, as well as other training experiences.

Chief Warrant Officer Pavel, a FAC with the Czech air force, said the exchange also builds trust and camaraderie, so if deployed together, they are able to have an established confidence in each other’s skills.

Pavel, who recently deployed with the 147th ASOS’ commander, said the relationship the two units have built over the years has helped while he was downrange.

According to Kroll, the dry, mountainous Arizona desert provided the perfect backdrop for this type of training.

“Davis Monthan and the Barry Goldwater Range in Gila Bend are really good training environments,” he said. “It’s wide open…it’s a desert environment, it’s a good representation of our current fight in Afghanistan, so that helps, and it’s a good way to practice our MCOs.”

Pavel agreed, saying that there aren’t too many places in the Czech Republic that represent the environment and terrain in Southwest Asia, so giving his troops experience in that type of environment was invaluable.

Not only did the exercise allow the airmen to employ a full mission profile in a joint environment, but it helped prepare them for their Warfighter exercise later this year, in support of the Texas Army National Guard’s 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Kroll said.

First enlisted wing IGI member leaves mark on Gunfighter history

First enlisted wing IGI member leaves mark on Gunfighter history

Story By: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem

Posted on: March 31, 2016

Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem Senior Master Sgt. Carl Boeshore, 149th Fighter Wing Inspector General for Inspections superintendent, Texas Air National Guard, finishes some paperwork in his office, March 11, 2016, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Boeshore came to the unit in 2013 as the first enlisted person assigned to the IGI when the program was still in its early stages. He plans to retire from the military April 9, 2016, after 29 years of service.
Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem
Senior Master Sgt. Carl Boeshore, 149th Fighter Wing Inspector General for Inspections superintendent, Texas Air National Guard, finishes some paperwork in his office, March 11, 2016, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Boeshore came to the unit in 2013 as the first enlisted person assigned to the IGI when the program was still in its early stages. He plans to retire from the military April 9, 2016, after 29 years of service.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- In 2012, the Inspector General for Inspections office was a new program in the Air Force and didn't officially come into play at the 149th Fighter Wing until the following year.

When Senior Master Sgt. Carl Boeshore arrived at the 149th, after his old unit, the 217th Training Squadron closed shop, he became the first enlisted member assigned to the newly developed IGI section.

Boeshore is no stranger to the inspection process. He was once written up for having too many additional duties, 28 in total at the time, but said that experience has benefited him in his current IGI position.

"In the write up, the inspector granted that I was doing my additional duties well, but that having 28 was too many," said Boeshore, referring to an inspection he had received early in his career. "But now, as an inspector, having that depth of knowledge from all of those additional duties has really helped me get familiar with a lot of various programs."

Lt. Col. Edward Stamper arrived at the wing shortly after Boeshore's arrival, when the IGI was still in its infancy at the wing. 

"The Air Force enacted the IGI around 2012, and the wing inspection program started in March of that same year, but the first person actually assigned to the inspection program was Sergeant Boeshore in 2013," Stamper said.

According to Stamper, when the IG was halved to become two separate sections -- one being the IG Quality of Life, designated for complaints resolution; the other being the IGI, designated for inspections -- Stamper joined the team as the head of this newly conceptualized department, mainly overseeing the IGI section.

Lt. Col. Christopher Miller, already assigned to what was then the IG, now became head of the more precisely formed IGQ section. 

With all of these changes and no clear-cut direction from higher headquarters, the IGI staff decided to create a lot of its own guidance to get their tasks accomplished.

"The MAJCOMS, AETC and the Air Force Inspection Agency - they were not giving guidance other than what had been printed," said Stamper, recalling the early days of setting up the IGI. "Their intent was to get creative solutions, pick the best ones and make those a best practice. Because of that, we were kind of on our own."

One of the first tasks Stamper assigned to Boeshore was no small undertaking.

"I wanted him to go through every inspection report that he could find that had been done elsewhere and create a checklist," Stamper said. It was a tough job for a [Drill Status Guardsman]. It must have taken him about four months, but he did it."

From that assignment came the Major Graded Area inspection checklist, a local wing product still used to date.

"It may seem minor, but this document represents hundreds of hours of research," Stamper said, pointing to various categories and subcategories under the four main ones on the checklist that Boeshore created. "One of our biggest challenges was there was no playbook for the inspection system. We now have something that we use in every single inspection."

Stamper referred to Boeshore as an "administrative wonder" and Boeshore, too, sees it as one of his strengths.

"One thing I've realized about myself is that I'm a good administrator," he said. "The biggest challenge is finding the most efficient way to do things. It's a lot of refinement of the process, a lot of trial and error."

The end result was a product the IGI staff could use in a comprehensive fashion when performing inspections.

"The checklist allows us to go in and capture the data needed to give to wing leadership to say this is what that unit looks like, this is their health -- the good, the bad, the things we need to change and the things we need to leave alone," Boeshore said.

According to Boeshore, the members of the IGI team are "solution managers" of sorts.

"We don't tell you how to solve your problem," Boeshore said. "That's not our realm. If we hear of something that may be a benefit to you, we'll pass that on to you, but our job is to help you identify the problem so you can find a solution and track work within it."

Stamper said one of the biggest hurdles the IGI has been trying to overcome is getting people out of the old inspection mindset. 

"A lot of people still haven't gotten a grasp on how you apply this effectiveness concept to the compliance concept we've had for so long," said Stamper. "It's no longer about being perfect. It's about being in control of your imperfections. The difference in the new system is continuous self-inspection, not trying to look perfect for one inspection."

Boeshore said part of the education process is eliminating people's misconceptions that the IGI is a villain out looking for a problem.

"I didn't want to be that evil IG guy," he said, before illustrating his point with a typical scenario. "You know, 'here he comes. Where are the coffee and doughnuts? Get them ready.' I've been in those shoes. I didn't want to be that guy."

Boeshore knows that to change the culture of thinking from compliance to effectiveness begins with the "mentoring moments" he gets on the job.

"We come in, sit people down and ask them how their program is going or what kinds of problems are they having and how they're working to fix them," he said. "Having a deficiency is not the worst thing anymore. The best thing you can do is admit you have a problem so you can find a solution."

Stamper gave an example early in the inspection process of a unit that had a major wing-wide program that the Wing Inspection Team rated as "marginally effective."
Nearly 10 months later, that same program was rated as "best seen to date" and "best in AETC" during the MAJCOM Unit Effectiveness Inspection CAPSTONE. Stamper said that unit's program is still the only one of its kind recognized to this day as having UEI strength by the Air Education and Training Command and represents how the new inspection program highlights non-compliance to enable corrective actions.

Since leaving his former IG position to become the deputy Mission Support Group commander, Stamper said he has and will remain heavily involved in the transition process with Lt. Col. Jeff Towns, now on board as Stamper's replacement.

1st Lt. Jonathan Sweat, coordinator for the Wing Inspection Program, arrived in the IG office the same time as Stamper, and is still in the office full-time with Towns, which Stamper said is helping with the "continuity and flow" during this transition period.

Boeshore is also set to leave the IGI soon when he retires in April. He said with the military constantly reducing in size, having to do things efficiently is essential. With that in mind, he wants people to remember that the IGI exists for the units' benefit. "We want to change the culture of inspections," he said. "We're not the bad guys. We're here to help."

Latvian Chief of Defense thanks 147th Reconnaissance Wing Airmen

Latvian Chief of Defense thanks 147th Reconnaissance Wing Airmen

Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia M. Lacy 147th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Posted on: March 9, 2016

 Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, Latvian chief of defense, and Maj. Gen. John Nichols, adjutant general of Texas, speak to members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, March 4, 2016. Lt. Gen Graube is visiting Ellington Field to meet and talk with members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing who deployed to Latvia in September of 2015. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Sean Cowher / Released)

Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, Latvian chief of defense, and Maj. Gen. John Nichols, adjutant general of Texas, speak to members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, March 4, 2016. Lt. Gen Graube is visiting Ellington Field to meet and talk with members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing who deployed to Latvia in September of 2015. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Sean Cowher / Released)

About six months ago, the 147th Reconnaissance Wing made history with the Michigan National Guard and Latvia, flying the first MQ-1B Predator in the Baltic nation.

To reinforce the partnership the three forged over the past year and to thank the U.S. for their support in Latvia, Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, Latvian Chief of Defense, visited Texas March 2-5, 2016, making stops at the wing, the wing's state headquarters at Camp Mabry in Austin and at Fort Hood.

"It's good to see familiar faces in Texas," said Graube. "I'm glad to be here to say thank you."

From late August to late September 2016, dozens of Texas Air Guardsmen and Michigan Guardsmen forward deployed to Latvia to exercise remotely piloted aircraft capabilities in support of the European Reassurance Initiative. The ERI is an effort to bolster the security and capacity of NATO allies through a persistent, rotational presence of U.S. forces and by increasing the responsiveness of U.S. forces to contingencies in Central Europe.

"You are a real deterrence for us," Graube said to a group of airmen who deployed, "a show of force...what you did for us last year."

To make the noncombat deployment possible, several National Guard units played critical roles, from Latvia's State Partnership Program partners with the Michigan National Guard laying the groundwork to the 147th providing the unmanned platform and several other units supporting through airlift and personnel.

The 147th was able to jump on board with little notice to mobilize the MQ-1B package to Latvia, sending three Predators, maintenance airmen, communications airmen and pilots.

"(The Michigan National Guard) did a lot of ground work to get us to come," said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, adjutant general of Texas. "Y'all have proven that we can do it."

"This is one of the strengths of the Guard," said Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, adjutant general - Michigan. "Michigan didn't have that capability and Texas did and it really did help us a lot. To make this happen really helped build a great working relationship with Texas."

Providing the unmanned capability added another dimension to Michigan and Latvia's 23-year partnership, Vadnais said.

With the flight of the Predator, Latvia became the first nation in Europe to develop nationwide RPA flight procedures with countrywide corridors that tie into special use airspace to de-conflict civilian and military flights, as well as allowing for nationwide use of surveillance capabilities to support a range of government needs, from search and rescue to firefighting and border control, said Col. James Andrew Roberts, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, Michigan National Guard.

The mission not only included an exchange with Latvian armed forces on RPA operations, but troops from Lithuania and Estonia also participated in the training mission to familiarize with air traffic management with MQ-1 operations, supporting one of the ERI's objectives.

In addition to thanking the Texas airmen for their support, Graube visited with family members and leaders at Fort Hood to thank the soldiers there who deployed to Latvia and the Baltic region as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in 2014.

"Americans, boots on the ground are very important to us," Graube said. "We do feel safer because of you, because of our good friends in the United States, in Texas, and Michigan."

Texas airmen and soldiers train together in a simulated deployed environment

Texas airmen and soldiers train together in a simulated deployed environment

Posted On: March 8, 2016

Tactical air control party airmen assigned to the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, 147th Reconnaissance Wing based at Ellington Field in Houston, work closely with soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard's 197th Special Troops Support Company March 5, 2016 at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. The Air Guardsmen performed close air support and an assault with the soldiers and Army aviators to locate a high value target in a simulated combat environment. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Chasity Lollis/Released)
Photo by Senior Airman Chasity Lollis
Tactical air control party airmen assigned to the 147th Air Support Operations Squadron, 147th Reconnaissance Wing based at Ellington Field in Houston, work closely with soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard's 197th Special Troops Support Company March 5, 2016 at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. The Air Guardsmen performed close air support and an assault with the soldiers and Army aviators to locate a high value target in a simulated combat environment. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Chasity Lollis/Released)

 

Multi-state Air National Guardsmen attend Contemporary Base Issue course in Oregon

Multi-state Air National Guardsmen attend Contemporary Base Issue course in Oregon

Story by: 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence

Posted on: March 8 2016

Master Sgt. Shelly Davison Major Gen. Brian C. Newby, Air National Guard assistant to the Judge Advocate General, addresses members of the Air National Guard during a two-day Contemporary Base Issues (CBI) course held at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., Feb. 19-20, 2016. The CBI course is taught by Air National Guard Judge Advocate Generals and the primary goal is to allow commanders and supervisors to work together as a team to identify, analyze and resolve contemporary problems leaders face. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shelly Davison, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Master Sgt. Shelly Davison
Major Gen. Brian C. Newby, Air National Guard assistant to the Judge Advocate General, addresses members of the Air National Guard during a two-day Contemporary Base Issues (CBI) course held at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., Feb. 19-20, 2016. The CBI course is taught by Air National Guard Judge Advocate Generals and the primary goal is to allow commanders and supervisors to work together as a team to identify, analyze and resolve contemporary problems leaders face. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shelly Davison, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

CLACKAMAS, Ore. - The 142nd Fighter Wing hosted over 200 Air National Guardsmen from around the country in a two-day Contemporary Base Issues course held at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Oregon, Feb. 19-20, 2016.

The Contemporary Base Issues (CBI) course is put on by Air National Guard Judge Advocate Generals (JAG). The primary goal of the CBI course is to allow commanders and supervisors to work together as a team to identify, analyze and resolve contemporary problems leaders face.

“The most important aspect of the course is that it allows commanders and supervisors an opportunity to spot legal issues and recognizing the steps to resolve it,” said Maj. Gen. Brian C. Newby, Air National Guard assistant to the Judge Advocate General.

The course covered an array of topics discussed via lecture and student interaction, to include standards on- and off-duty, progressive discipline and administrative discharges, unprofessional relationships, and ethics in the military.

The course kicked off with an hour-long presentation about understanding that duty status matters. The National Guard is the only United States military force that operates across both State and Federal responses, leveraging State Active Duty under state law, inactive duty training or full-time National Guard duty under Title 32 U.S.C and active federal service under Title 10 U.S.C

According to the Air National Guard Commander’s Legal Deskbook, one of the most important issues in determining the power of the Commander to command the members of a National Guard Unit is a determination of the status of its members. 

The status of National Guard members determines jurisdiction for administrative and criminal matters as well as medical benefits in the event of injury or liability in the event of the loss of government property.

“What’s unique in the Air National Guard is its members are always in different statuses, like civilian, part-time, and full-time,” said Col. Jim Demarest, staff judge advocate, Florida Air National Guard. “Commanders and supervisors need to understand how the status directly affects the rights and obligations of our citizen-Airmen.”

On the final day, the course focused on a larger Air Force topic, sexual assault. Since fiscal year 2010, the Air Force has experienced a steady increase in the number of reports, both restricted and unrestricted according to the United States Air Force Report on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response to the President of the United States.

During the briefing, Lt. Col. Beverly G. Schneider, administrative law attorney with the National Guard, focused on the several ways commanders and supervisors can approach sexual assault within their unit and provided information on how to assist the victims of sexual assault.

According to the National Guard Bureau Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Progress Report to the President, the National Guard currently has 383 Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) personnel and 3,439 victim advocates fully certified and trained to assist victims and ensure victims of sexual assault receive appropriate and responsive care. 

“The most important thing you can take away from this is to use your roundtable of the JAG, SARC and psychological health for assistance with this issue,” said Schneider.

In his opening remarks, Newby stated that incidents of sexual assault are a real and recognized problem in the military. Sexual assault is detrimental to morale, destroy unit cohesion and damage the military as a whole.

“We want the focus of the Air National Guard and the military to be a positive one,” said Newby. “We need to change our focus, change our training, and change the lens we look through to succeed.”

The CBI course is one way that commanders and supervisors can start to change their focus, change their training, and change their lens. 

The course wrapped up with a CBI Jeopardy game, where all participants got to apply the knowledge they learned throughout the course. Following the course, Air National Guard leaders will return back to their unit with more knowledge to ensure good order and discipline. 

“The CBI course continues to receive outstanding support from high-level Air National Guard leadership and because of this support, we can bring this course to thousands of Guardsmen,” said Newby.

From Texas cop to best warrior

From Texas cop to best warrior

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed Steven Hein, a police officer with the Richardsone Police Department in Richardson, Texas, inspects his vehicle prior to a patrol in Richardson, Texas, Jan. 28, 2016. Hein will be a two-time competitor at the 2016 Best Warrior Competition. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/ Released)
Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed
Steven Hein, a police officer with the Richardson Police Department in Richardson, Texas, inspects his vehicle prior to a patrol in Richardson, Texas, Jan. 28, 2016. Hein will be a two-time competitor at the 2016 Best Warrior Competition. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/ Released)

BASTROP, Texas. – “And the Winner is…,” the announcer paused.

Most remember saying, “when I grow up,” as a kid, but few will remember what career they loved at the time and fewer reach their childhood dream; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Hein is one of the few.

“I was like 8 or 9-years old and my dad was walking around with a video camera, videotaping all us kids and interviewing us. I was in the backyard shooting a BB gun of all things. I was shooting tin cans when he asked me, ’what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘well I want to be on SWAT. I want to be a cop and be on SWAT,” said Hein.

Hein followed through with his dream and became a police officer with the Richardson Police Department in Richardson, Texas. He also became a training noncommissioned officer assigned to the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

He enjoys setting goals and overcoming challenges. His latest challenge is a second attempt at taking home first place in the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition.

“It’s pretty impressive to make it twice in a row because he competed against all the guys in his wing and beat them out a second time to get here.” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Shane Ruppel, Texas Army National Guard, the BWC event noncommissioned officer in charge.

The BWC is an annual event that tests the aptitude of elite Texas Air and Army National Guardsmen during three days of physically and mentally grueling events. The events are meant to test the member’s endurance, marksmanship, land navigation skills and professionalism. This year, guard members were also joined by Army reservist and Chilean military members.

“I figured I’d give it another try,” said Hein. “It was a good experience; it’s fun. You get to meet some new people, experience new things and learn some new stuff.”

His road to police work began in 2007, when he joined the U.S. Air Force as a security forces member. His first and only active duty assignment was with the 90th Security Forces Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, where he was a gate guard and patrolman for two years before becoming a member of the elite Tactical Response Force. 

“We were dual mission,” said Hein. “We had nuclear recapture and recovery and we were also the base EST team, or SWAT team.”

The training he received during his time with the Tactical Response Force directly contributed to his success in both his civilian and military law enforcement careers said Hein. It also prepared him for many of the tasks he faced during his first run at BWC. He hopes that the training comes back just as naturally during his second trip here.

The little boy grew up and became a cop, times two. He works long hours to help protect the city of Richardson and trained hard to represent his squadron at the BWC for a second time and through all that he remains humble.

“I’m not the best, I’m not the strongest, I’m not the fastest and I’m definitely not the smartest, but I do give 100 percent to everything I do,” said Hein. “I get that from my dad, he always had the no quit mentality.”

The 2016 BWC is over. The competitors stood before a board, wrote an essay, completed a land navigation course in below-freezing temperatures, rucked eight miles, assembled, disassembled and fired a variety of weapons, ran an obstacle course and faced the mystery event.

The announcer continued, “The top NCO for the Texas Air National Guard, from the 136th Security Forces Squadron is Staff Sergeant Steven Hein.” 

“I didn’t think I did that well, but I gave it all I’ve got,” concluded Hein.

147th Reconnaissance Wing hosts ANG Command Chief

147th Reconnaissance Wing hosts ANG Command Chief

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Shawn McCowan
147 Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Posted On: February 2nd, 2016

Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard James W. Hotaling spent time talking with 147th Reconnaissance Wing enlisted members at Ellington Field JRB in Houston, January 30, 2016. Hotaling talked about commitment to the profession of arms, health of the force, recognizing our accomplishments and finished the enlisted all call by answering questions from the airmen.
Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard James W. Hotaling spent time talking with 147th Reconnaissance Wing enlisted members at Ellington Field JRB in Houston, January 30, 2016. Hotaling talked about commitment to the profession of arms, health of the force, recognizing our accomplishments and finished the enlisted all call by answering questions from the airmen.

ELLINGTON FIELD, Texas - In one of his final visits of his career, the Air National Guard Command Chief spent two days with members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field January 30-31.

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling made it a priority during his visit to speak with 147th Reconnaissance Wing's junior enlisted Airmen during an enlisted all call. Airmen were given the opportunity to interact with Chief Hotaling and ask him any questions they had about the Air Force and the Air National Guard. Hotaling discussed his key focus areas that include the renewing of the commitment to the profession of arms, the health of the force, and recognizing and embracing the accomplishments of Airmen.

During the all call, Airmen candidly presented issues important to them. Hotaling expressed the importance of making sure Airmen are part of any solution they hope to see.

"I see two kinds of people when there is an issue at hand, victims and victors. I want you to have a victor mentality when tackling your challenges," said Hotaling.

Chief Hotaling also spoke on renewing he commitment to the profession of arms, focus on performance and training, and education requirements. His presentation of the profession of arms included  mentorship and supervision as well as the deliberate development of Airmen.

Other topics included the health of the force, resiliency, and the four pillars of an Airman's life, which included mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects. As part of the health of the force, Hotaling discussed the importance of sexual assault prevention and response.

Hotaling also took time to recognize Airmen accomplishments during the all call, telling the audience that recognizing Airmen both informally and formally is important.

Hotaling said he was very impressed with the wing, both as a whole and its individuals.

"I have visited all 90 Air National Guard units, and I can tell you that the 147th is a great wing. Morale is high here, and there is a real sense of camaraderie."

As Hotaling prepares for retirement, he hopes all Airmen focus on their "here and now," doing their best work where they are.

"If each of us do our very best today, while planning for tomorrow, the future will take care of itself. I really believe that."

Texas ANG welcomes new commander, salutes outgoing commander

Story by: 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain

Posted On: January 28, 2016

2nd Lt. Phil Fountain Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn (center), chief of staff of the Texas Air National Guard, prepares to receive the organization’s flag in a ceremony recognizing the change of command from Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian (left) to McMinn during a ceremony at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016. Command Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Nation, the command chief master sergeant of the Texas Air National Guard, holds the flag prior to the change of command ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain / Released)
2nd Lt. Phil Fountain
Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn (center), chief of staff of the Texas Air National Guard, prepares to receive the organization’s flag in a ceremony recognizing the change of command from Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian (left) to McMinn during a ceremony at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016. Command Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Nation, the command chief master sergeant of the Texas Air National Guard, holds the flag prior to the change of command ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain / Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – Members of the Texas Air National Guard gathered to welcome their new commander and salute their outgoing commander at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian ceremoniously relinquished command of the Texas Air National Guard to Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn, the organization’s chief of staff, immediately prior to his retirement.

“It’s a great time for Texas,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, who officiated the ceremonies. “We don’t need a change, but it’s a great thing to have a change and bring a new perspective in.”

McMinn brings three decades of experience to the role, according to his biography. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours in numerous aircraft, including the C-130 Hercules assigned to the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing, in Fort Worth.

“I charge you (McMinn) with taking care of the organization, taking care of those who serve Texas and the nation, as I do with everyone who’s in a command position,” Nichols said. “Ken did it honorably.” 

“We never failed Texas and we didn’t fail the nation in any of the missions we did,” Nichols said. “I charge you to continue that.”

McMinn was humbled to receive the appointment.

“Thank you, General Nichols,” McMinn said. “Thank you for the trust you put in me to take over this position, especially from him. Big shoes (to fill).”

In addition to the 136th Airlift Wing, the Texas Air National Guard’s largest operational units include the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, in Houston, and the 149th Fighter Wing, in San Antonio.

Moreover, the organization is made up of more than 3,200 airmen who operate and manage facilities and equipment valued in excess of $500 million to support state and federal missions.

The Texas ANG leadership transition began when Wisian announced his plan to retire from the military and join the staff of the Texas General Land Office, a Texas state agency, as a senior deputy director overseeing coastal protection and disaster recovery operations.

“I’ve known Dave a long, long time,” Wisian said. “I’m excited to pass the flag on to him. We’ve both came to the guard within about a year of each other, back in the ‘90s.”

“Dave’s the right person to take the helm now,” Wisian said. “I know you all will have fantastic future working with him, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Nichols and Wisian both discussed some the challenges McMinn will face as commander.

“We have a lot of challenges, with sequestration, as it is, and we have challenges with modernization,” Nichols said. “And we have challenges with force structure, having more missions than we have people to do it.”

But they expressed confidence in the future of the organization.

“It looks like there’s a significant corner turned,” Wisian said. “There’s good prospects now for some updated hardware, the Air Guard is being recognized by the Air Force – not nearly as well as it should be – but better than it has for a long time. Things are on an upward vector now.”

Wisian’s retirement caps off a 34-year career he began as a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Wisian served in the active duty Air Force for ten years before transitioning to the Texas Air National Guard, where he held leadership positions at all levels, including combat service in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to serving as a traditional Air National Guardsman, McMinn maintains a civilian career as a commercial airline pilot. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, where he commanded at the group level.

“It’s a big trust, and I don’t take that lightly,” McMinn said of his assignment. “I look forward to providing as much of me as I possibly can for Texas.”

“From the time I joined the Texas Air National Guard, in 1992,” McMinn said, “from that moment, I always felt I owed the Texas Air Guard more than it could ever owe me. I still feel that today. I’m as charged up and excited about doing great things for the people of Texas, and for the people within the National Guard of Texas than I ever have been.”

As the new commander, McMinn said his plan is to ensure the focus of the headquarters staff remains oriented toward serving the needs of the air wings.

“I’m excited about being your commander, excited about being value-added, and am excited that our staff here serves the wings,” McMinn said. “We’re going to take care of you guys (at the wings), that’s our job.”

McMinn also looked to the future.

“We’re going to do good things, and we’re going to grow and prosper and learn from each other,” McMinn said.

“We’re all going to leave this position, whether through retirement or promotion, or just move on to your next assignment,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll all be better airmen and better people for having served in the state headquarters. That’s my goal.”

From slick sleeve to one star, Texas Air National Guard promotes first female general

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted on: January 20, 2016

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – In 1983, Dawn M. Ferrell enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard as a slick-sleeve airman basic.

Nearly 33 years later, now-Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell continues to serve the Texas Air National Guard and made history becoming its first female general officer.

To celebrate this milestone, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Military Department senior leaders and Ferrell’s family and friends attended her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, in the Texas Capitol’s Senate Chambers, with Abbott administering her oath of office.

“I’m humbled and I’m proud to have been chosen for this position, and I recognize that this is an important step for the Texas Air National Guard,” Ferrell said. “I honestly didn’t realized that there hadn’t been a female before, but I think it’s just another way of showing everybody that anybody can do anything in the Air Force.”

Abbott appointed Ferrell the Texas Military Department’s Deputy Adjutant General-Air in November 2015.

“Dawn Ferrell has earned the promotion she is being recognized for today,” Abbott said. “Texas is about advancement and in Texas, we believe you can achieve anything if you work hard and strive with ambition to achieve great things. Dawn Ferrell is the newest and greatest example of what we believe in Texas.”

Thinking back to the beginning of her career, Ferrell remembers only wanting to serve her initial commitment in the guard and later planned to pursue a college degree. However, once in the TXANG, Ferrell said she loved being in the military and a member of the guard, whose unique part-time structure allowed her to do both.

“I was just going to do my initial six-year enlistment,” Ferrell said. “I wanted to go to college and see what happens. I never thought that 32 and a half years later I’d still be here.”

Ferrell was able to pursue her education, earning a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctorate of philosophy degrees, as well as a successful civilian career in higher education while progressing through the ranks of the TXANG.

“I absolutely loved being in the military and being a part of the guard and the great thing about being in the guard is you get to experience both,” she said.

Ferrell has grown in her career at the 136th Airlift Wing from an aerial port specialist to an aerial port officer and group commander.

“No matter what the barrier is – perceived or not – you go around or you go over, but you don’t stop,” she said. 

Ferrell attributes her success to her will to succeed and never quit, regardless of the obstacle. That same attitude has taken her to serve in positions such as director of plans and logistics operations at International Security Assistance Force headquarters Afghanistan and to coordinating response efforts during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans and Houston.

And now as deputy adjutant general, she plans to ensure the TXANG is always ready to serve, whether it’s a federal or state mission, as well as seek new missions for the state. 

“Be ready for whatever opportunities come your way,” she said. “There may be different paths to get there, so do things you need to do to be prepared so that when opportunities come along, you won’t miss it.”

Guard leaders attend new cyber course

Story by: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem

Posted on: January 11, 2016

149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. David McMinn, Texas Air National Guard commander, talks to Col. Michael Lovell, Air National Guard advisor to the 25th Air Force, while attending a newly implemented cyber course Dec. 10 in San Antonio. The course, which was the first of its kind, spanned four days and familiarized National Guard senior leaders with the threats and resources available in the cyber realm.
Brig. Gen. David McMinn, Texas Air National Guard commander, talks to Col. Michael Lovell, Air National Guard advisor to the 25th Air Force, while attending a newly implemented cyber course Dec. 10 in San Antonio. The course, which was the first of its kind, spanned four days and familiarized National Guard senior leaders with the threats and resources available in the cyber realm. 

SAN ANTONIO,Texas -- National Guard leaders attended a four-day cyber security familiarization course Dec. 7-10 in San Antonio.  The class was the first of its kind for the Air National Guard that previously had no cyber security training for its senior leaders or commanders not assigned to cyber career fields.

The training course relies on seasoned professionals with extensive information security experience from the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio.   The course outlines various cyber threats and educates leaders on the resources available to neutralize those threats.

For Brig. Gen. David McMinn, commander of the Texas Air National Guard, this course came at just the right time.

"Everybody agrees that the next big Pearl Harbor for us will be in the cyber realm," McMinn said. "We need to be adept in this realm. This course is helping senior leaders assess capabilities of not only our adversaries but also those of our own cyber forces."

The National Guard Bureau also announced the placement of multiple cyber protection teams across the nation during the same week senior leaders were attending the course - aligning the teams with FEMA management regions - yet another indicator that the Department of Defense aims to increase cyber preparedness. Texas was one of the four states assigned with Air National Guard cyber teams.

During the training, senior leaders spent some time at the 273rd Information Operations Squadron, an Air National Guard unit with a reputation for being cyber savvy. Walking into an environment of experts in a field where many are still beginners, could feel intimidating, but Maj. Kristy Leasman, commander of the 273rd IOS, aims to dispel those feelings.

"I want to take the mystery out of cyber for them," Leasman said. "The course builds a significant foundation, and the big lesson at the end of the week is that cyber is not special. It's just operations.  Senior leaders should approach cyber operations the same way they approach any other operational task. This course just helps with the language translation."

According to McMinn, deciphering that language is crucial.

"We started this course in Texas because we identified a huge need for our National Guard leaders -- both Army and Air -- to learn what's going on in the cyber realm, and to be able get this training in San Antonio, a center for cyber excellence -- to run portions of the course right here at the 24th and 25th Air Force -- makes us the ideal location to be trained up on these amazing capabilities." McMinn said.

Because the dangers of the cyber domain are different than those of the physical domain, McMinn believes the action must fit the danger.

"Any other threat you see coming -- the warning signs. You can see, 'hey, they just launched a missile,' but cyber attacks have no warning signs except for readiness, aptitude and the skills of those in the intel and cyber fields that see those things coming and protect us," he said.

During one of his lunch breaks, McMinn engaged in a conversation with some of his peers about how this class has helped them better understand the old adage of an ounce of prevention being weightier than a pound of cure.

"I had an idea about how big the problem was but after attending this course and learning what the full-scale threat is, I'm very much alarmed," McMinn said.  But this training has taught me how to protect my family and myself, how to protect an organization, and what our forces are doing to prevent those cyber threats.

But concern wasn't the only thing on the Texas leader's mind. Visiting with the cyber operatives bolstered his confidence.

"Not only am I more alarmed, but I also feel more secure in knowing what our amazing people our doing to protect us," McMinn said. "We can't always see what's going on behind the curtain, but there is a lot going on behind that curtain."