US Air National Guard makes history in Latvia

US Air National Guard makes history in Latvia

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: September 17, 2015

An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - Airmen from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing made history launching, operating and recovering the first MQ-1 Predator in European airspace in the reconnaissance aircraft’s first non-combat deployment Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia.

“Today at 7:47 a.m. Central Time, we made history with the successful launch, flight and recovery of our MQ-1 Predator in Latvia,” said Col. Stanley Jones, 147th Reconnaissance Wing commander, Texas Air National Guard, in a statement Sept. 1. “This deployment is a total wing effort with the critical contributions coming from every group in the wing. We could not have gotten to the point without every Texan contributing to the effort.” 

The guardsmen successfully executed this feat through a partnership with the Michigan National Guard and the Republic of Latvia. The coordination of all the components of the mission took four years to accomplish, from conception to execution, which began with Latvia’s State Partnership Program partner, the Michigan National Guard, and included the Latvian Civil Aviation Authority, the Latvian National Armed Forces, Air Navigation Service Provider, and the Riga Area Control Center. 

The Michigan guardsmen laid the foundation for the operation to take off. Inputs and contributions from Latvia, the Texas ANG and U.S. Air Forces in Europe helped finalize and eventually realize the mission. Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis stressed the significance of the U.S. presence in Latvia and the ability for Latvian troops to train side-­by-side with their NATO partners. 

“It’s important to train for interoperability between NATO partners,” Vejonis said. “It’s a good example of smart defense that we can use equipment that we don’t currently have.” 

The non­combat deployment allowed for country­wide corridors to tie into special use airspace to de­conflict civilian and military flights, as well as nationwide utilization of surveillance capabilities to support a broad range of government needs for Latvia, to include search and rescue, firefighting and border control according to Col. James Andrew Roberts, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, Michigan National Guard, and a major player in launching the operation.

In addition, the operation tested the wing’s ability to travel to a forward location and establish operations to assure its commitment to regional security and safety to its Latvian and NATO allies and European partners. The airmen trained using a satellite data link and trained Latvian military on long-range flights to help them understand the opportunities and challenges with remotely piloted aircraft operations.

The partner training included processing and sharing intelligence gathered by RPAs and close air support operations with Latvian forward air controllers. In addition to strengthening security in the region and the U.S. partnership with Latvia, the temporary deployment accomplished several objectives for those involved. For Latvia, it was the first use of the large-scale RPA in country. 

For the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, it was the first time the airmen deployed an entire package. Traditionally, when the MQ-1 Predator is deployed, maintainers and pilots are mobilized and equipment is moved from different locations, but for this mobilization, equipment and personnel deployed as an entire package.

“We palletized our own equipment, packed it up, and got our own people and equipment deployed as a package,” said Maj. Derek Weaver, 147th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, 147th Maintenance Group, 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas ANG. “We got it right. We came here and set up in a couple of days and it was so smooth.”

Weaver credits the efficient execution of the deployment to help from the Latvians, the Army stationed at Lielvarde and the professionalism of the 147th wing members. The forward deployment was executed in support of the European Reassurance Initiative – an effort by President Barack Obama and Congress to bolster the security and capacity of NATO allies. The ERI demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the U.S. to the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe through a persistent, rotational presence of U.S. forces and by increasing the responsiveness of U.S. forces to contingencies in Central Europe.

Re-enactors Jump to Honor Historic Military Anniversaries

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted: September 13, 2015

jumps from plane
Senior Master Sgt. Denny Darnell and Sgt. Kyle Clark, Texas State Guard, are civilian re-enactors who parachuted from a C-47 during the commemoration of the World War II allied invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944.  They are members of the Liberty Jump Team which re-enacted the United States and British paratroopers at the 71st anniversary of the invasion at Normandy, France, June 2-7, 2015.  Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
Parachute Jump
Sgt. Kyle Clark, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, is a civilian re-enactor, who parachuted down to La Fiere-Merderet River drop zone, Normandy, France, June 7, 2015, to commemorate the World War II allied invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel.  (Courtesy Photo/Released)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Re-enactors honor the selfless service of active duty soldiers,  veterans, and fallen heroes of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard in many ways. 

Five re-enactors are Texas State Guard soldiers who, as civilians, have chosen a very memorable way to pay tribute. 

They are civilian parachute jumpers and re-enactors.

Those five re-enactors are 1st Lt. Leland Burns and Senior Master Sgt. Denny Darnell, 4th Air Wing, Air Component Command, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wood, Engineering Group, Staff Sgt. Gary Bostic and Sgt. Kyle Clark, 4th Regiment, Army Component Command.  

They are members of the Liberty Jump Team, which performs static line parachute jumps from an actual C-47 aircraft used on D-Day, just as soldiers did in World War II. 

The jumpers wear authentic World War II paratrooper uniforms. The Liberty Jump Team consists of 70 members who are active-duty, retired, and reserve United States and foreign military members.

"My father, a World War II veteran of the Okinawa campaign," commented Clark, "was only 18 years old and he believed that the service of United States soldiers was a job that needed to be done."

"I am honored to be able to pay tribute to the bravery, self-sacrifice, and heroism of the American soldier who fought to preserve our freedoms."  

Jumps from plane
Staff Sgt. Gary Bostic, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, (fourth on top row) is a civilian re-enactor who jumped from a C-47 during ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first United States Army paratroopers at Fort Benning, Georgia, August 15, 2015.  The first jumps were over Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, August 16, 1940. Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel.  (Courtesy Photo/Released)

On the 71st anniversary of the Normandy invasion during World War II, Senior Master Sgt. Darnell and Sgt. Clark honored the 24,000 Normandy Allied paratroopers by re-enacting the June 1944 parachute jumps from a C-47 aircraft over Amfreville, Graignes, and La Fiere-Merderet River, France, June 2-7, 2015.

The final jump for this anniversary commemoration was performed by jumping from a C-47 over the "The Airborne Trooper," a statue of a World War II 82nd Airborne, United States Army  paratrooper overlooking the Merderet River from the La Fiere Bridge, Normandy, France.  Four  C-130 aircrafts with over two hundred paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne, United States Army, also participated in this event.  

On the other side of the Atlantic on the 75th anniversary of the first Army Airborne Infantry platoon jump in 1940, Bostic, along with eleven members of the Liberty Jump Team, jumped with almost 300 United States Army paratroopers at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia, August 15, 2015.

The Liberty Team, wearing the uniforms of World War II paratroopers, jumped from a C-47, just like the Army Airborne paratroopers of World War II.

"I am honored to be here to pay tribute to the Army Airborne paratroopers who gave selfless service during World War II," commented Bostic. 

"They were fearless soldiers who jumped into dangerous battle zones to help win World War II."

The first Army Airborne Infantry platoon was organized with 40 soldiers from the 29th Infantry located at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1940.  This platoon made the first jump as paratroopers in the United States Army, at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, August 16, 1940.

The first platoon mass jump occurred at Fort Benning, August 29, 1940.

Texas Army National Guard G6 Deputy Chief of Staff Retires

 retirement ceremony honoring Col. Brian HammernessCommentary and photo by: Michelle McBride
Texas Military Forces Public Affairs

CAMP MABRY, Texas  – The Texas Military Forces held a retirement ceremony honoring Col. Brian Hammerness, G6 deputy chief of staff for the Texas Army National Guard, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Sept. 3, 2015.

“I wanted to celebrate my retirement in a place where a lot of memories were made,” said Hammerness, “and what better place than here.”

Hammerness received his commission through the Core of Cadets program at Texas A&M University as an armor officer in May of 1984.

Among various command positions Hammerness held, his service includes Chief of Future Operations, 49th Armor Division, Bosnia Herzegovina; Executive Officer 56th Brigade Combat Team, Iraq and Red Team Leader ISAF Joint Command, Afghanistan.  His last assignment was as the deputy chief of staff, G6 for Joint Forces Headquarters – Texas.

Throughout his career Hammerness has been awarded the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge, the Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal, Texas Medal of Merit, Adjutant General’s Individual Award, Federal Service Medal, Faithful Service Award, Humanitarian Service Ribbon and the Combat Service Ribbon.

His military education consists of the Armor Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.  Hammerness also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Dallas and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Hammerness now looks forward to spending time with his wife, Rena, and three daughters: Amanda, Paige and Emma.

“I will miss you all,” said Hammerness, “but I am confident that I am leaving you in good hands.”

TAG Talks: LTC Ross Davis

On this edition of TAG Talks, LTC Ross Davis speaks about the Adult Learning Theory and the differences between Pedagogy Learning and Andragogy Learning. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.

Task Force Alamo trains Honduran army

Story by: Maj. Randall Stillinger

Posted: August 27, 2015

Maj. Randall Stillinger  First Lt. Raymond Bayane (right) observes two Honduran soldiers practice a 'fireman’s carry' during a training exercise in Tamara, Honduras. Bayane is with the San Antonio-based 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, which is conducting the training to enhance the Honduran Army’s ability to counter transnational organized crime (CTOC). 36th Infantry Division Soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard are spending four months in Central America creating a knowledgeable and trained force that is able to detect, disrupt and detain illicit trafficking across the region. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger)
Maj. Randall Stillinger 
First Lt. Raymond Bayane (right) observes two Honduran soldiers practice a 'fireman’s carry' during a training exercise in Tamara, Honduras. Bayane is with the San Antonio-based 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, which is conducting the training to enhance the Honduran Army’s ability to counter transnational organized crime (CTOC). 36th Infantry Division Soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard are spending four months in Central America creating a knowledgeable and trained force that is able to detect, disrupt and detain illicit trafficking across the region. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger)

TAMARA, Honduras – Soldiers from the San Antonio-based 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment are spending an extended summer working with and training Honduran military forces at a remote base two hours Northwest of the capital city of Tegucigalpa. 

 The four-month mission, which started in May, is meant to enhance the host nation’s ability to counter transnational organized crime by creating a knowledgeable and trained force that is able to detect, disrupt and detain illicit trafficking across Central America.

 The over 50 members of Task Force Alamo, which is commanded by Maj. Rodney Kelley, were selected because they bring unique capabilities to the mission. 

 In addition to combat experience, these citizen-soldiers of the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team brought with them expertise and experience that was gained from civilian careers in related fields. Members of the task force include Austin police officers, a U.S. Marshall, a firefighter, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, and employees of the Bexar County Sherriff’s Department.

 These Texas National Guard Soldiers also bring an added benefit to the training environment: the ability to speak Spanish fluently.

 Kelley said, “This group of Soldiers is exceptionally prepared for the mission in Honduras. The fact that 65 percent of our Soldiers are bilingual improves the quality of training because much is lost when an interpreter is used.”

 “The civilian experiences that they bring to the training are an added bonus that is hard to replicate,” Kelley said. 

 Officially known as the Republic of Honduras, the country has suffered from many years of political instability and one of the highest crime rates in the world. Although there have been improvements, it remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Adding to the problem, nearly 28 percent of the 8.1 million people are unemployed despite an increase in trade with the United States, the country’s largest trading partner. 

 The rigorous training process builds U.S. partner nations' capability to conduct border control operations along with a series of related tasks. Subject matter experts from the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security are also brought in during each three-week rotation to focus on certain specialties. 

 Week 1 includes both rifle and pistol marksmanship, close quarters training, troop leading procedures and cordon/search operations.

 Week 2 focuses on border enforcement, arrest/detainment, patrolling in an urban environment, working entry control points and utilizing terrain models for military operations.

 Week 3 includes a field training exercise that pushes the students to utilize all the training they’ve received, but also focuses on operational security and how to use the 9-line format to call in medevac support. 

 Col. Cesar Rolando Rosales Zapata, commander of the military base in Tamara and also commander of the 2nd Infantry Airborne Battalion Transported, praised the joint training: 

 “We’re receiving great feedback from the soldiers and they are looking forward to putting their training into action in different parts of the country, along the border and on the coast.”

 “I also enjoy seeing the camaraderie that is shared between the U.S. and Honduran soldiers as they compete in soccer and volleyball,” Rosales said.

 Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, commanding general of the 36th Infantry Division, said, “I’m extremely proud of Task Force Alamo and the great work it’s doing in Honduras.” 

 Simpson and Command Sergeant Major John Sampa visited the Soldiers in July to witness the training, identify potential opportunities for future rotations, meet with Honduran officials, and to thank the soldiers for their dedication and professionalism.

 “These citizen-Soldiers have stepped up to volunteer, they’ve adapted to a new environment, and they’re having a tremendous impact on the Honduran people,” Simpson said. “This highly-successful mission is yet another example of the versatility that National Guard soldiers provide on the world scene. I couldn’t be prouder.”
 

REFLECTIONS ON WARRIOR LEADERSHIP

 

Leadership Philosophy and Expectations of LeadersCommentary by Robert T. Hastings

Next month I will pass the Regimental colors to a new leader for the organization I have had the honor and privilege of commanding for the past three years.  As I reflect upon my personal learning during this time and focus on my next duty assignment, I re-read the command philosophy letter I published when I first joined the unit.   I still think it’s a pretty good framework for leaders of both military and non-military units alike.   I don’t take credit for all of this as original work; I borrowed liberally from other leaders I have known and worked for over the past 30 years.

Subject:  Leadership Philosophy and Expectations of Leaders

Command is a privilege and it is an honor for me to join you as commander of the 19th Regiment.  The most important and sacred responsibility entrusted to an officer or noncommissioned officer is the privilege of leading others in execution of an important mission.  We must never forget that others depend upon us, they look to us for guidance and to set the example, and when we ask them to go in harm’s way they and their families expect us to lead them back home safely.

This memorandum outlines my leadership philosophy and expectations of you, the leaders of this Regiment.

I define my leadership philosophy simply as People First: Mission Always.

I developed this philosophy as I advanced through several levels of responsibility within the Army, from platoon to regiment and across a wide range of missions.  This philosophy recognizes that the most valuable and important resource a leader has to accomplish the mission are people.  I believe that well-trained, highly-motivated and performance-oriented people provided with clear guidance and direction can accomplish any mission and will exceed our expectations every time. People first.

But the reason any organization exists is to accomplish a mission.  If we fail to accomplish our mission then nothing else matters; nothing.  I believe a leader’s principle focus must always be on successful execution of the mission. Mission always.

Obviously people and mission are inextricably linked; you cannot succeed in one without the other.  People First: Mission Always has provided me a sense of balance with two equal priorities that are mutually supportive.  We must excel at both to excel as an organization.

We are not a combat organization, but I do believe deeply in the Warrior Ethos and that it is equally applicable to the culture we must build within this Regiment to be successful.

The Warrior Ethos is:
•I will always place the mission first.
•I will never accept defeat.
•I will never quit.
•I will never leave a fallen comrade.

 I expect each of you to learn it, live it and teach it.

These are my expectations of you as leaders in this Regiment:
1.Communicate: Good communication is the hallmark of a great leader.  Whether it comes easy for you or not, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team knows what is expected of them at all times.  Our mission will take us into the unknown, and you and your teams will be asked at times to operate in ambiguous and chaotic conditions.  I expect leaders to use the troop leading procedures to create and communicate well-developed plans and orders, and to provide clear guidance and direction.   

2.Build trust & teamwork: Trust is earned not given, through deeds not words.  It extends laterally and vertically, both ways.  Trust is inherent in the strength of our collective character and is an essential element of leadership and successful mission execution.  I must trust you, you must trust your troops, and they must trust one another and the entire leadership team.  Trust is the glue that bonds individuals into a team and once lost is never regained.  Military operations are a team sport, or more accurately, a ‘team of teams’ sport.  I am not impressed by high-performing individuals; we need high-performing teams.

3.Provide clarity through intent: “Commander’s intent” might be the most important leadership tactic ever developed.  Long practiced in the Army, it is now taught at premier leadership schools and universities to include the Harvard Business School.  Commander’s intent enables action and initiative.  When your subordinates know how you define success, it allows them to think on their feet, to achieve mission success in light of changing situations, and to focus on achieving an end-state which everyone understands.

4.Take prudent risks: Our mission is high risk.  I expect leaders to accept prudent risk when necessary; make every effort to assess, mitigate and minimize risks; and ensure that risk decisions are made at the appropriate levels.  As a leader I expect you to practice risk assessment continually so that you can be confidently aggressive in your mission execution without gambling with the safety of our troopers.  Safety must always remain at the forefront of our minds.

5.Lead in difficult situations: This is where you earn your stripes.  As a leader you must be a role model for others.  You are viewed as the example and must maintain standards and provide examples of effective behaviors.  When leaders model the organization’s values, they provide tangible evidence of desired behaviors and reinforce verbal guidance by demonstrating commitment and action.  I expect you to be timely and decisive in your decisions especially when the going gets tough.  If you don’t lead your team someone else will.

6.Perform under stress: Regardless of how difficult or stressful the situation may become, you must perform.  Your subordinates and peers will watch your every move to see if you can handle the stress.  Self-confident leaders breed self-confident troops.  It is important that they are confident that when you take them into danger you will perform well and will lead them back to safety.  They will not follow you if they do not have confidence in you.

7.Grow future leaders: I believe leaders don’t occur naturally, at least not in the quantity we need.  Leaders are grown and developed.  A large part of how I evaluate you as a leader is the way you develop your subordinates.  Every member of this Regiment is a leader in training for the next level of responsibility.  It is our job as leaders to bring the next generation along and develop those that will replace us.  We do this through training, coaching and mentoring, and by providing challenging opportunities to grow and develop.

8.Exhibit unimpeachable integrity and character: Integrity is non-negotiable – I will not tolerate breaches.  Effective leaders are truthful in both word and deed.  I expect leaders to be morally and ethically upright and to be positive role-models at all times.

9.Adapt, innovate, and take the initiative: As a leader, I expect you to be a self-starter, to act when there are no clear orders, and to adapt when the situation changes or the plan falls apart – because it will!

10.Drive standards, discipline, and fitness: Discipline is not merely the obedience of orders; it is adherence to standards, the pursuit of excellence, and development of a collective will in a team that enables mission success.  I expect leaders to embrace the high standards of our organization for yourselves and your teams, and to develop a culture of discipline that builds cohesion and self-confidence among the troops.  Finally, I expect leaders to be physically and emotionally fit to lead.  Go to the Army website and read about the five Dimensions of Strength.

In summary, let me say how honored and proud I am to be serving with you.  This Regiment has a solid reputation, directly attributable to the hard work of each of you.  Together we’ll make it better.  The leaders and citizens of Texas depend on us.  Our missions demand confident leaders, trained and ready troopers, and an aggressive, determined spirit.  You have proven time and again that you can exceed every expectation.

I look forward to serving with you and meeting the challenges ahead.

Texas-based Engineer Brigades embrace Army Total Force Policy to complete a 17-mile road construction project

Story by: Capt. Maria Mengrone

Posted: August 22, 2015

Courtesy Photo  Soldiers from the 420th Engineer Brigade pose for a photograph while participating in a 25-day roadway construction project spanning 17 miles along the perimeter of the Camp Bowie Training Center in Brownwood from July 6-30, 2015. (Texas National Guard courtesy photo by 111th Engineer Battalion/Released)
Courtesy Photo 
Soldiers from the 420th Engineer Brigade pose for a photograph while participating in a 25-day roadway construction project spanning 17 miles along the perimeter of the Camp Bowie Training Center in Brownwood from July 6-30, 2015. (Texas National Guard courtesy photo by 111th Engineer Battalion/Released)

BROWNWOOD, Texas – Army Engineers from across Texas came together during a 25-day roadway construction project spanning 17 miles along the perimeter of the Camp Bowie Training Center in Brownwood, Texas, from July 6-30, 2015. 

 The multi-component project was planned and led by 111th Engineer Battalion “Roughnecks”, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG). The multi-component element included active duty soldiers from the 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade based in Fort Hood, Texas and U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from the 980th Engineer Battalion, 420th Engineer Brigade headquartered in Bryan, Texas. 

 While informal, a relationship between the three Texas engineer brigades has existed for some time. Recently, the Army adopted a “Total Force Policy” that encourages regionally aligned units from all components of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment – Active, National Guard, and Army Reserve - to plan and execute multi-component training in order to maximize resources and gain efficiency. 

 “The project included multi-component Soldiers who had never met before; they planned and resourced this project remotely, months before execution. Elements came together at all levels with little to no friction. It’s been about getting the mission done – expanding engineer collective capability,” said Maj. Matthew D. Calton, 111th Engineer Battalion commander. 

 “It is reassuring to observe the caliber of Officers, Warrant Officers and NCOs that exist within our Engineer Regiment,” said Calton. 

 The range road construction project was divided into three major sections with each assigned to specific component. Horizontal engineer soldiers completed excavations, cut and fill, hauling and borrow site operations, while vertical engineer soldiers focused on round and box culvert installations, and headwall construction. Soldiers with other engineer skill sets were task organized to further the mission.

 “Within each major route section there are critical path sub-tasks,” said Capt. John Veracruz, construction officer, 111th Engineer Battalion. “Among these were improving trafficability of the route by decreasing the grade of two large hill sections, building new sections of road and installing three concrete-cable low-water crossings.”

 At the height of the project, the 111th Engineer Battalion accounted for 646 soldiers with significant representation from four separate engineer battalions (62nd, 111th, 386th, 980th) and elements from 3rd Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and the 72nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 72nd Infantry Brigade, 36th Infantry Division Engineer Battalions. 

 “The quality of training is unprecedented, officers are getting training to plan, NCOs are getting training on complex problem solving and soldiers are getting significant equipment training opportunities; it’s rare to have so many diverse components and engineer capabilities working within a multi-phased project,” said Calton. 

 Soldiers from across all components now have a better understanding of how the Army Total Force Policy can be implemented.

 “The support has been fantastic,” said Capt. Jacob Niewold, commander, 68th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade. “We don’t usually get this kind of training by staying at Fort Hood.” 

 “I’ve never had an opportunity to work with National Guard but it’s great that we are able to help each other,” said active-duty soldier, Spc. Joshua M. Green, horizontal construction engineer, 68th Engineer Company. “If there was something we couldn’t figure out the guard Soldiers would come out and help and we would help them too.”

 “This is good training, we’re learning our MOS, many of our Soldiers are fresh out of basic training and we are doing a real-world project,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Lucero Rios, interior electrician, 808th Engineer Company, 980th Engineer Battalion, 420th Engineer Brigade, USAR. “We started something here and I would definitely want to come back and see the finished product.”

 For those not familiar with Camp Bowie and its expansive training areas. Camp Bowie covers nearly 9,000 acres with weapons ranges and various training facilities, barracks, administrative areas and a dining facility. Although Camp Bowie has expanded in recent years by adding post infrastructure, barracks, and training facilities, upgrades to the transportation infrastructure were lacking. The construction on Camp Bowie sought to address that need.

 “This project provides emergency access to all training areas, which is something we didn’t have before. It also allows soldier access to all training areas with the finished road serving as a firebreak,” said Lt. Col. Jamey L. Creek, chief of Plans and Operations, Training Center Command, 71st Troop Command, TXARNG. “We train primarily National Guard Soldiers but active-duty, reserve, Marines and a host of other governmental organizations train here too, so everyone will benefit from the improvements.” 

 Resourcing for the project came from multiple Texas National Guard directorates that included the Construction and Facilities Management Office, the Army G-4 and Training Center Garrison Command. The investment in building material and fuel exceeded $700,000. 

 A key component of the project was the planning and synchronization of logistics through scheduled bulk fuel deliveries and three weekly trips to draw rations from Fort Hood, Texas. Additionally, early procurements of field sanitation, equipment repair parts, and prepositioning of building materials facilitated logistical requirements. 

 “The total number of soldiers fed peaked at 646 on day 12 of the 25 day annual training. We had more than 300 pieces of transportation and heavy engineer equipment and fuel consumption topped 50,000 gallons,” said Maj. Jimmy C. Horst, logistical officer, 176th Engineer Brigade, TXARNG. “I believe the greatest reward, from a logistical standpoint, is the success of including all three Army components into one training event.” 

 All Army engineers, regardless of their component, are bonded by a culture of cooperation and collaboration that has grown stronger over the last 14 years of conflict. With the relationships further codified by regional alignment and the Army Total Force Policy, the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment is leading the way. The Camp Bowie Range Road project is a shining example of Army Total Force Policy implementation, and is a snapshot of what is possible when the components work together. 

 “Going forward, if there is a national incident or another training opportunity, those lines of communication have been absolutely tested, they’re in place and they have been validated; we have proven the concept of the Army Total Force Policy,” said Calton. 

 “Essayons!” – Let us try.

Special Operations Detachment - Africa, Texas Army National Guard

Courtesy Story by: Maj. Robert Cowart, Special Operations Detachment - Africa, Texas Army National Guard

Posted: August 21, 2015

Courtesy Photo  A Texas Army National Guardsman with Special Operations Detachment - Africa, 71st Troop Command, jumps into the waters off of Key West, Fla., July 24, 2015. The jump, was part of a long-range, airborne water insertion and a culmination of three years of planning with active duty Army Special Forces, Air Force, Navy and U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that SOD-A always has trained and deployable personnel to conduct the many real world missions it is called upon to execute. (Courtesy photo by Special Operations Detachment - Africa)
Courtesy Photo 
A Texas Army National Guardsman with Special Operations Detachment - Africa, 71st Troop Command, jumps into the waters off of Key West, Fla., July 24, 2015. The jump, was part of a long-range, airborne water insertion and a culmination of three years of planning with active duty Army Special Forces, Air Force, Navy and U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that SOD-A always has trained and deployable personnel to conduct the many real world missions it is called upon to execute. (Courtesy photo by Special Operations Detachment - Africa)

KEY WEST, Fla. - As the ramp opened up, the smell of salty air and humidity filled the C-130. It was almost as thick as the enthusiasm displayed by the Texas Army National Guardsmen on board. The soldiers, part of the Special Operations Detachment – Africa (SOD-A), 71st Troop Command, conducted a long-range airborne insertion into the waters near Key West, Fla., July 24, 2015.

The exercise was a culmination of a three-year process, which executed the unit’s Mission Essential Task List training; a training plan designed to take units from an untrained status, to proficient and finally to a trained status – all leading to the unit’s ability to conduct its wartime mission. 

“The key focus for this weekend is the Mission Essential Task, load out and deploy,” said Col. Doug O’Connell, SOD-A commander. 

The SOD-A mission is to provide command and control for U.S. and coalition special operation forces within the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.

“Everything we have done, leading up to this weekend, are essential skills that we use on a regular basis, as we send small teams to remote locations,” said Lt. Col. Tim Ochsner, SOD-A executive officer. 

Coordination for the operation involved several branches, which included reaching out to the Army’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School that helped secure the drop zone, lodging, watercraft and parachute drying facility; the Navy for the overall use of Naval Air Station Key West and for emergency management services during the airborne insertion operations; the Air Force helped with their C-130 aircraft for the trip to and from the insertion and the U.S. Coast Guard provided its galley for meals. 

“After completing the water jump into Key West, the unit conducted recovery operations in preparation for redeployment back to Austin, said Maj. William “Rusty” Weedman, SOD-A logistical planner. “During the SOD-A's stay in Key West, they received support from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West Galley and the Special Forces Underwater Operations School.” 

With preparations set, the SOD-A members, assisted by 294th Quartermaster Company (Rigger), 36th Infantry Division, leapt from the aircraft, as members of the SFUOWS conducted drop zone operations, manned watercraft for recovery and provided medical coverage. Once all of the jumpers had successfully completed their required water sustainment jump, they transitioned to deploying-and-supporting dive team operations, in this case, the 5th Special Forces Group dive team as they conducted airborne water insertion and underwater infiltration operations.

Planning a training event with this many moving pieces is an enormous undertaking, but it ensures that SOD-A always has trained and deployable personnel to conduct the many real world missions it is called upon to execute, Ochsner said.

“Because the unit deploys small teams, almost quarterly to remote locations in Africa supporting missions and exercises, it is imperative that we find ways to conduct mission essential task list training while conducting steady state operations,” O’Connell said.

TEXAS STATE GUARD BASIC TRAINING I - AUGUST 14-16 2015

This drill weekend the Texas State Guard trained new Guardsmen at their Regional Basic Orientation Training Phase I in Austin, Texas. Training continues next month with Phase II.  Click here to see the photos.

Staff Sgt. David Ausborn, a Texas Army National Guardsman, volunteers his weekend to teach newly joined Texas State Guardsmen drill and ceremony movements at Regional Basic Orientation Training I in Austin, Texas, Aug. 14-16, 2015. RBOT teaches the new Guardsmen military customs, basic first aid and CPR, drill and ceremony, land navigation and radio communication skills. The training is broken up into two phases, which take place during monthly drill. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).
Staff Sgt. David Ausborn, a Texas Army National Guardsman, volunteers his weekend to teach newly joined Texas State Guardsmen drill and ceremony movements at Regional Basic Orientation Training I in Austin, Texas, Aug. 14-16, 2015. RBOT teaches the new Guardsmen military customs, basic first aid and CPR, drill and ceremony, land navigation and radio communication skills. The training is broken up into two phases, which take place during monthly drill. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).