Texas Army National Guard conducted its first HALO Operation

Texas Army National Guard conducted its first High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) operation at Camp Swift, near Bastrop Texas, June 27, 2023.
Soldiers from across the United States came together in the Texas locale to execute multiple HALO jumps as part of a mission validation exercise.
Although the Texas Army National Guard has HALO qualified Soldiers, this was the first time the Texas Guard has owned the operation and supplied the parachutes and aircraft.
The 197th Special Troops Support Company Special Operations Airborne from Camp Bullis, San Antonito Texas received the RA-1 Advanced RAM AIR Parachute System (ARAPS) in March of 2023, after four years of working with Force Management to update their Modification Tables of Organization and Equipment (MTOE).
The 197th STSC is one of only two units in the United States that are operationally controlled to the 528th Sustainment Brigade during wartime missions.
“The request for the MTOE change met the requirements of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Regulation 350-2 Chapter 2” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Kanzler, senior airdrop systems technician. “It states that the command Parachute Riggers are utilized effectively, efficiently and those aerial delivery subject matter experts are qualified to meet the widest spectrum of aerial delivery requirements for the Army Special Operations and interoperability with USSACOM and coalition units.”
The overall mission of the 197th STSC (SO) (A) is to provide rapidly deployable sustainment support, which includes providing personnel parachutes to ARSOF elements.
“These parachutes are intended to improve the survivability of the airborne Soldier and preserve the commander’s available combat power when conducting military freefall operations, during both combat and training missions,” said Kanzler.
This new capability to perform these intricate operations will give the Texas National Guard a set of new opportunities in the future according to Sgt. Joseph Briseno an aerial delivery specialist.
“It opens up a gateway for Texas to conduct these types of operations with Special Forces, who primarily utilize this type of canopy,” Briseno said. “It allows us to integrate our capabilities and enhance our skills as it pertains to our mission essential tasks.”
Part of Briseno’s responsibility during the free fall event was ensuring the safety of the equipment as it was being placed into service for the first time, and as it was being used for the day’s operation.
“All the Riggers that participated in in-servicing the parachutes needed to pass the RA-1 Rigger new equipment training or NET prior to working with the parachutes,” Briseno said. “This course is crucial in ensuring the utmost safety for the jumpers today.”
Kanzler and Briseno are recent graduates of the MFF course and are employed at the Aerial Delivery Facility at Camp Mabry in Austin Texas, which oversaw the inventorying and in-servicing of the 36 new RA-1 parachutes for the operation.
“Now Texas can conduct infiltration techniques throughout the world through military freefall operations; something we weren’t able to do solely on our own.” Said an Alpha Company, 5th Battalion 19th Special Forces Group Soldier.

Operation Alcatraz effective stemming illegal

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Since the expiration of Title 42 in May of this year, Texas National Guard Soldiers have vastly changed operations. Texas Guard engineers physically altered the landscape to enable Guardsmen to carry out the mission more successfully. Also, additional National Guardsmen from other states have enabled nearly round-the-clock operations.

The engineers from Special Reaction Teams 2 and 3 were able to complete Operation Alcatraz, an operation that cleared dense brush from the edge of the Rio Grande River where illegal migrants used the bamboo and brambles to evade capture. The operation also included a more robust barrier of concertina wire the entire length of the area more than eight miles long.

The heavy foliage near the river presented a hazard to those trying to enter Texas illegally, as they get tangled in the dense brush, and to the Guardsmen who patrol the area. Removing the foliage using heavy equipment has removed the hazard for all.

“So far, everything is moving along smoothly,” 1st Lt. Luis Cuellar said. “We’ve had some equipment go down, but thankfully we have Texas Department of Public Safety working with us to get maintenance out here, helping get all our equipment back up and running. My guys are out here 7 days a week working on not only Alcatraz, but everything going on at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry.”

The overall appearance has changed in Eagle Pass, and operations have changed as well. A continuous united presence with Soldiers and law enforcement partners from Texas DPS and other states run 24-hour operations, taking up points along the river to prevent, deter, and interdict criminal trespassers.

“We have seen apprehension numbers go down, yet greatly increased the number of turn backs that we are getting,” Maj. Michael Riley, the Operations Officer for Task Force Eagle said. “A turn back is when someone attempts to cross into the US illegally and then realizes that they don’t have easy access to cross and return to Mexico.”

147th Attack Wing MQ-Reaper completes first ACE movement in Europe

CASLAV AIR BASE, Czech Republic: The Texas Military Department’s 147th Attack Wing demonstrated an MQ-9 Reaper agile combat employment (ACE) movement from Caslav air base to Ostrava airport during Exercise Air Defender June 13, 2023 in Caslav AB, Czech Republic.
This ACE movement displayed the effectiveness of the MQ-9 Reaper in a remote location.

This training flight was the first MQ-9 Reaper ACE movement successfully completed in Europe that integrated a military air base and a civilian airport. This demonstrated a cross-functional force package ability to rapidly conduct remote split operations in austere environments.
The MQ-9 Reaper was launched via satellite using its integrated automatic takeoff and landing capability (ATLC) from Caslav AB, remotely piloted from Texas by 147th ATKW aircrew, and used ATLC to land in Ostrava Airport.

A C-17 Globemaster led by the 105th Air Wing, New York Air National Guard, preceded the MQ-9 Reaper at Ostrava Airport, carrying a small contingent of Multi-Capable Airmen specialized in rapid launch and recovery. The team consisted of 147th AKTW maintainers and 136th Airlift Wing logistics Airmen that prepared and secured the recovery site for the MQ-9 Reaper.

“Air Defender has been a great opportunity to show our capabilities as an Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper organization,” said Maj. Karl McGarvey, the 147th Operations Support Squadron chief of launch and recover operations. “This exercise has given us the ability to strengthen our relationship and interoperability with our Czech Republic state partners.”

This training mission was coordinated between the 147th ATKW, Czech Republic military partners, the Czech Civilian aviation authority, and operations director at Ostrava Airport, Michal Holubec. The MQ-9 Reaper was able to enter civilian airspace through this coordination and was accomplished because of best practices from 147th ATKW leaders who previously navigated similar procedures through the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.

This coordination between Texas and the Czech Republic comes at a pivotal moment between United States and Czech Republic relations because of the Defense Cooperation Agreement recently being signed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Czech Republic’s Minister of Defence Jana Cernochova.

“It has been rewarding to see the focused training of the 147th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen program coming to fruition as they integrate with the 136th Contingency Response Force to successfully perform the first MQ-9 Reaper ACE movement in the U.S. European Command,” said 1st Lt. Mark Wilson, the 147th AMXS director of operations. “All direct learning objectives have been seamlessly achieved as we continue to develop and test our home station tactics, techniques, and procedures with our allies and partners.”

Exercise Air Defender gives the 147th ATKW a great opportunity to enhance their relationship through the State Partnership Program between Texas and the Czech Republic. This program has facilitated collaboration and exchange in various areas such as defense, education, and cultural understanding.

Through joint training exercises, workshops, and information sharing, the partnership has enhanced the capabilities of both Texas and Czech Republic in areas like military readiness, disaster response, and cybersecurity. The program has also encouraged cultural exchanges, allowing citizens from Texas and the Czech Republic to learn from each other's traditions, languages, and customs, thereby promoting a greater sense of understanding and friendship between the two communities.

The collaboration between the Texas National Guard and the Czech Armed Forces has resulted in improved interoperability, sharing of best practices, and enhanced peacekeeping operations. The State Partnership Program between Texas and the Czech Republic stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and diplomacy in building strong international relationships.

From National Guard Soldier to Social Media Star

Story by Sgt. Gauret Stearns 110th Public Affairs

When people think of social media influencers with over 280,000 followers they don’t normally think of National Guardsmen.

Texas Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eugene Hunyadi is a targeting officer for the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 36th Infantry Division. But he is also a local celebrity within the unit and across the force, for making viral videos about his service in the Texas National Guard and the military as a whole.

“I had a video that went viral in 2021 which was about how discipline in the military is a little different and how we sometimes do things a lot differently from the way civilians do it and it struck a chord with people and went viral,” Hunyadi said. “It had millions of views within just a couple of days and I'd picked up tens of thousands of followers very quickly.”

Hunyadi started his path to stardom making short videos on one account and has grown his social media profile across several platforms.

“Most of my followers are veterans of active duty, National Guard and the reserves,” Hunyadi said. “The rest are just people interested in the military.”

Before he started making videos he had a blog where he talked about everything fitness related as well as his weightloss journey of losing 130 pounds to rejoin the military.

In the past few years the military has updated guidance on the use of social media for service members. The updated guidance can be found in ALARACT 073/2022.

“I've been asked by a number of Soldiers ‘what would happen if I was told by the brigade commander or somebody else that I can't post videos on one of my pages anymore?’ And my answer to them is, you know, I wouldn’t make videos on that platform anymore,” Hunyadi said. “I'm always going to follow the rules, regulations and directives that we're given and I do think that the military should make sure that what we're doing is safe and right.”

The rules and guidance of social media use with the DOD are stated in Official Use of Social Media for Public Affairs Purposes (DoD Instruction 5400.17).

“It's like when you hand a private a rifle, it's a dangerous weapon if it's not handled properly,” Hunyadi said. “If they don't have the right training they can hurt themselves or hurt others. When you have the proper training, the proper guidance and you've been shown how to use that weapon properly, it is a tool that you can use to accomplish your commander's mission. I think that the same is true of social media if we receive good guidance, if we receive good information, it is possible that it can be a tool for positive gains in morale in mentoring, coaching, in teaching and in showing that the military lifestyle, while not easy, is something that's fulfilling and rewarding.”

Texas National Guard improves public safety

Solder on the Border

SOUTH TEXAS— Recently, Texas National Guard Soldiers from Kilo Company assisted Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers apprehend a driver and three illegal aliens after a high-speed chase in a Laredo neighborhood that ended when the vehicle broke down, June 19, 2023.

The chase began when DPS brush team received a call about a group seen getting into, and speeding off in, what is known as a “load-up vehicle.”

The next day State Troopers and Soldiers apprehended one female migrant and witnessed four males swim back to Mexico after another vehicle crash. The high-speed pursuit occurred ended with the pursued vehicle crashing into the Rio Grande River as a last-ditch effort to evade capture.

Spc. Crumby, a Texas Guardsmen has seen the different ways illegal immigrants try to get across.

“We had a few that we turned back in raft early,” Crumby said. “Late, in the shift there was another group nearer to the bank and we were able to turn them back, too.”

Service members have also trained to use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), or drones to gain the upper hand in border-town neighborhoods. The drones provide a birds-eye view of the area, as well as adding the ability to see in the dark.

Guardsmen across the southern border have worked with the law enforcement partners to detect, deter, and interdict all criminals from coming across and either poisoning our neighborhoods with illicit drugs or trafficking people. The Texas National Guard remains dedicated to protecting our border and improving the safety of our neighborhoods.

Joint Medical Exercise 23

Joint Medical Exercise 23

A medical unit from the Texas National Guard participated in the Joint Medical Exercise-23 June 5-9, 2023 at Fort Cavazos, an annual event that aims to train Soldiers and civilians in life saving procedures from the point of injury all the way to major trauma centers.

The medical platoon from the 3/278 Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Tennessee National Guard unit that is commanded by the Texas National Guard’s 36th Infantry division, brought 23 Soldiers to the exercise that drew over 2000 medical professionals and helicopter pilots from around the world.

Joint Medical exercise 23JMEX-23 was designed to take a patient from the point of injury on the battle field, through all four roles of medical care. Newly minted doctors in residency and new 68W combat medics rotate through each role, working patients in each level of care.

The Soldiers from the 3/278 were responsible for Role 1 battalion aid station.

“Our job here is to stabilize them so we can get them to definitive care, or surgery,” said Staff Sgt. Colin Keenan, the medical platoon sergeant for the unit. “We are here to stabilize them so we can get them to a Role 2, and eventually to a role 3 and 4 if needed.”

While the army has trained each of the Guard soldiers as combat medics or physicians assistants, many of them have medical careers external to the Guard. Keenan said that some of his platoon are on an ambulance nearly every day. That kind of experience is something you only find in the National Guard, according to Keenan, a former active duty Soldier.

“Out of our platoon, we have five or six paramedics and another four or five EMTs or people that work in hospitals or labs,” Keenan said. “An active duty soldier might not touch a real patient for a long time, where my guys are going on calls all the time and using those skill sets.”

The group of medics from Texas also has a physician’s assistant with them, who supervises the advanced care the Soldiers can give in the field. He said that the unit brings a unique set of skills.

“We have the ability to stabilize the patient for 24 hours in the field,” said Maj. Tomas Palacios. “We also have the ability to do a walking blood bank. It’s like taking them to the emergency room, without the hospital.”Joint Medical exercise 23

The walking blood bank allows the medics with the 3/278 to get blood, on the spot, from other soldiers, to give it to patients who critically need the blood as a life-saving measure at the battalion aid station.

As part of the event, Navy Lt. Victoria Kay, an emergency medicine resident at Navy Medical Center San Diego, treated a notional trauma patient with the Texas Guardsmen.

“This is arguably the best setup out here,” Kay said. “We have run several training lanes and it has been impressive to work with the individual Guardsmen. They are very well trained and very motivated.”

Texas gets help with border, Florida - Tennessee National Guard

SOUTH TEXAS— National Guardsmen from both Florida and Tennessee are now working side by side with Texas Guardsmen and the Department of Public Safety along the border from Brownsville to El Paso. Several hundred Soldiers arrived by C-130 and by bus, and took positions on the line in early June.

Florida National Guard engineer, Staff Sgt. Miguel Cabrera, non-commissioned officer in charge of the engineers in Eagle Pass said missions like this help Soldiers in many ways.

“This mission lets us do what we are called for as National Guardsmen, helping our state of Florida but also helping Texas,” Cabrera said. “The experience here on the ground is helping our Soldiers with their careers. The gained experience of doing engineer work improves their engineering skills and doing a mission like this helps their Soldiering and leadership skills.”

The Florida and Texas engineers have laid a quarter of a mile of triple strand concertina wire each day in the Eagle Pass area of operation.

Throughout the border region the number of illegal immigrants attempting to come across has dropped drastically. The efforts of the Guardsmen standing the line, engineers clearing the land and laying down c-wire and the additional troopers from law enforcement partners from the Department of Public Safety have made an impact.

The additional eyes and ears of Tennessee and Florida Guardsmen have helped make a difference already in detection and deterrence.

Making-mending fences deliver high op tempo

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Texas National Guard engineers continued to add concertina wire along the border to help stop the flow of illegal migrant traffic crossing into the US near Brownsville, Texas in late May.  

The engineers have laid miles and miles of fencing along the border and their efficiency has been a key factor in the slowing of the migrant crossings. They have worked nearly nonstop, especially for the last three weeks after the ending of Title 42. 

Spc. Jarret Rhames has been in the Texas National Guard for nearly three years. His job is to build fortifications and slow down the migrants from breaching the fencing. He said he takes pride in being in the military, and being on this mission because of his family history. 

“My father and his father are prior service, and I am fifth generation in my family serving in the military,” Rhames said. “It was also a sense of purpose for me to serve something bigger than myself.” 


Rhames decided to go into combat engineering because he found it an interesting job.  


“They offered me a job as a combat engineer and I it sounded really interesting to me, cool, fun and something I can get enjoyment out of,” Rhames said. 

Rhames said he and his team of engineers are making a difference protecting the border.  

 “The work we put in everyday, personally makes a huge difference,” Rhames said. “When we aren’t putting fencing along the border, we are on private properties that we get contracted with to build fences along their property lines and that gives those people a peace of mind.” 

Texas Army National Guardsmen win National Marksmanship Championship

CAMP ROBINSON, Ark. – Four members of the Texas Army National Guard won the 52nd Annual Winston P. Wilson Championship, April 29- May 5, 2023, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The National Guard hosts the Winston P. Wilson Championship annually to promote marksmanship training. This competition offers National Guardsmen an opportunity to test marksmanship skills and weapon systems in a battle-focused environment.

“Marksmanship is the quintessential skill of a Soldier,” said U.S. Army Col. Kevin Crawford, 176th Engineer Brigade commander. “Having Soldiers of this caliber is a force multiplier to having trained, mission-ready forces. The outcome was fantastic, allowing their world-class performance to take the competition.”

These Soldiers are dedicated to excellence and spend countless hours of their own time mastering their individually assigned weapons, Crawford added.

The Texas Army National Guard team, known as the Texas Alpha Team, was comprised of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Stevener, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Duron, both from 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Lt. Samuel Slichter of 386th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, and Capt. Ross Buntyn of 111st Engineer Battalion, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Buntyn served as team captain of the Texas Alpha Team.

Texas Alpha Team took home team awards from the competition including High Overall Team Aggregate and High Overall Rifle Team Aggregate, and numerous individual awards including 1st Place Overall Novice, 1st Place Rifle Novice, 3rd Place Rifle Novice, and 3rd Place Pistol Novice.

“The team was successful due to our consistency –this consistency--regardless of weather conditions, fatigue, time of day, or match format led to our success,” said Slichter. “As a team, we consistently placed around the top 10 and as individuals placed in the top quarter.”

Our consistency is rooted in a firm grasp of the fundamentals of marksmanship, added Slichter.

Established in September of 1971 by Major General Winston P. Wilson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, the first rifle and pistol championships took place at Camp Robinson, Ark.
In 2007, the competition was revamped, and new courses of fire were implemented to enhance combat survivability and evaluate the capability of Service Members (SMs) to effectively employ their service weapons.

While basic marksmanship techniques are still an integral part of the competition, a particular emphasis has been put on combat realism, physical exertion and close individual and team coordination.

The Texas Alpha Team competed in 29 different marksmanship challenges during both the day and night, utilizing their M4A1 carbine and M17 service weapons.

The challenges included individual and team events, ranging from close-quarter battle scenarios to long-distance shooting.

The weeklong competition was grueling. The team navigated strong winds, harsh sunlight, exhaustion, and a variety of shooting formats.

“Each member was encouraging and did not allow any setbacks to negatively affect each other's performance,” said Buntyn. “As a team, we meshed very well and played off of each other’s strengths. We did our best to take learning points from each match, maintain a professional attitude, and remained emotionally detached from the outcome, which allowed us to perform consistently.”

This year, 57 four-SM teams representing 43 states and territories participated in the competition. In the end, the Texas Alpha Team was left standing at the top.

“I am very proud of the performance of the Texas Alpha team,” said Buntyn. “The competition at the 2023 WPW was very tough and overall scores were much higher when compared to previous years. It was clear that each state sent their best available competitors.”

The support for this team was instrumental to its success.

The unseen professionals who supported the team made significant contributions in the form of initial planning, WARNO/OPORDs, administration, budgeting, meals, ammunition, range control, logisticians, range support personnel, weapons, and most importantly the support of commanders and families of the participants.

“I must thank Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Brown for his support as well as each unit of the members of the team,” said Buntyn. “Without their support, we would not have been able to prepare for and compete in the competition.”

The support the team received enabled the Texas Alpha Team to train without distraction or burden.

“Congratulations to Texas Alpha Team and thank you to the Adjutant General and Texas Military Department for your trust and support of the competitive marksmanship program,” said Brown, team organizer. “The state-level matches start again in January. Texas will need new marksmen that can ‘Come and Take It’.”

As champion marksmen and leaders, Texas Alpha Team will inevitably disperse back to the ranks in positions of increased responsibility and enhance proficiency and lethality of individually assigned weapons, Brown added.

“2023 Winston P. Wilson (WPW) Texas Alpha Team win is truly a Team Texas win,” said Crawford. “Texas Alpha Team is comprised of four carefully selected, high functioning marksmen whose shots inside the “X” ring at WPW will have lasting impacts on marksmanship within the Texas Army National Guard.”

TXNG/TXDPS push back illegal traffic on land and water

LAREDO, Texas-- Texas National Guard Soldiers stopped illegal immigrants from wading across the Rio Grande River, and directed them back to Mexico, May 22, 2023. Soldiers worked with their law enforcement partners, the Department of Public Safety brush teams, and responded to a sensor that alerted them of illegal aliens trying to gain access to Texas.

Texas Soldiers were able to stop the illegal aliens before they entered the United States. After being stopped the would-be crossers were directed by helicopters back to Mexico.

Operation Lone Star has Texas National Guard soldiers working with DPS Troopers to prevent, deter, and interdict transnational illegal activity in their areas of operation.