Texas, Singapore military celebrate 20-year partnership  

Texas, Singapore military celebrate 20-year partnership 

Story by
: Capt. Jessica Jackson

Posted: Sept. 6, 2016

Members of the inaugural Peace Prairie partnership participate in a photo during the 20-year celebration of the working relationship, Aug. 16, 2016, in Flower Mound, Texas.   The Peace Prairie partnership includes the Republic of Singapore Air Force and Texas National Guard. Pilots and crewmen from the Singapore military live and train in Texas to become proficient pilots before returning home. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jessica Jackson)
Members of the inaugural Peace Prairie partnership participate in a photo during the 20-year celebration of the working relationship, Aug. 16, 2016, in Flower Mound, Texas. 
The Peace Prairie partnership includes the Republic of Singapore Air Force and Texas National Guard. Pilots and crewmen from the Singapore military live and train in Texas to become proficient pilots before returning home. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jessica Jackson)

AUSTIN, Texas – Dozens of Singaporean airmen along with their Texas military counterparts gathered to celebrate a partnership that started 20 years ago, during a ceremony at Circle Ranch in Flower Mound, Aug. 16, 2016.

After the Singapore military did a commercial buy on Chinooks, the next step was to get their pilots the best training available. Leading them to the Texas National Guard.

Once their initial meeting with the Texas National Guard concluded, the Singaporeans were encouraged to research other state programs, looking at Mississippi’s, Pennsylvania’s and Nevada’s National Guards.

“I told them, go look at those states and when they were done looking, to get back to Texas and get ready to work,” said retired Lt. Col. Craig Rushing, the first U.S. Army Flight Training Detachment commander.

This was the birth of the Peace Prairie partnership. “And here it is 20 years later,” Rushing said.

With varying levels of flight experience, partnering with the guard provided both fictional and real-world training for pilots.

"Being part of the Guard, the RSAF was able to ramp up our Chinook capability as we participate in exercises like JRTC and Red Flag," said Lt. Col. Howe Siong Sen, Republic of Singapore Air Force Peace Prairie Detachment commander.

In addition to those exercises, the nature of Texas also provided unique training opportunities.

“Here in Texas we have to deal with fires and hurricanes, so we got them trained up on all those kinds of things — Army stuff,” Rushing said. “They knew about flying, but they didn’t know about being in the field or facing large-scale emergencies — they were tougher than I thought and I had some of the best to work with.”

When the Singaporean crewmen begin their training in the U.S., one of their first stops was with Master Sgt. Derek Smith, senior flight engineer instructor.

“We took what they learned in Singapore and expanded on it,” Smith said.

Newly assigned airmen to the Peace Prairie Detachment must go through three phases of training while here in the U.S., which can take up to six months.

“There’s a 90-day window between the different phases, but it’s all proficiency based,” Smith said.

Adding to the knowledge the pilots bring to the partnership, Texas Guardsmen ensure their Singaporean counterparts are aware of and abide by U.S. Army and Federal Aviation Administration regulations while flying in country.

This partnership does more than help develop confident pilots and aircraft engineers, it allows those involved to learn and grow, providing a rare opportunity for the airmen.

“It opens up the relationship base; there aren’t a whole lot of units that get to work hand-in-hand with a foreign military outside of a deployment,” Smith said. “They’re different on how they do things; we come together, meet in the middle and there’s some give and take.”

The Peace Prairie partnership has made strides to help continue positive relations between the two countries.

“The close ties we’ve built over the last 20 years, post operations, is very important,” said Sen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 11:45:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

Texas Guardsmen partner with Chilean military during humanitarian relief effort 

Texas Guardsmen partner with Chilean military during humanitarian relief effort

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Sept. 3, 2016

Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, gave medical aid during the humanitarian mission. Thousands of local citizens receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island. The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, gave medical aid during the humanitarian mission. Thousands of local citizens receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island. The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

ISLA DE PASCUA, Chile – Thousands of local citizens lined the halls of the cramped hospital to receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island.

“Our principle reason for being in Chile, and particularly Easter Island, was to validate and demonstrate in real time a seamless interoperability with our Chilean Air force medical counterparts,” said Texas Air National Guard George Ivanovski, commander of the 136th Medical Group, in Austin, Texas. “We actually worked side-by-side with them seeing patients.”

The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine.

“Easter Island is quite isolated,” said Ivanovski. “The island is about 2500 miles from the mainland and is probably one of the most remote places on earth. It's 63 square miles of landmass with about 6,000 people living there. 

Ivanovski acted as the Texas Air National Guard Liaison to the Chilean Air Force during the operation, and Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, participated in aid during the humanitarian mission.

“I was working with six other ophthalmologist from Chile,” said Texas Air National Guard Mark K. Davis, optometrist for the 147th medical group, based in Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, in Houston, Texas. “We were doing both routine eye care glasses and secondary care which would be medications, eye disease and also doing tertiary care which is some cataract surgery.”

Easter Island does have its own medical facility but at times it can be overwhelmed.

“Even though it’s a full service hospital most of the positions are one deep and these guys are working 24/7, 365,” said Ivanovski. “Beyond seeing the islanders, once the travel season starts and cruise ships start arriving, the small hospital tends to get overwhelmed with a lot of additional people that are sick.”

During the mission, medical officials saw double of their expected locals.

“The original estimated number of patients was about 2700, they saw about 5700,” said Ivanovski. “So you’re looking at about a 50 percent increase and when you think about it that’s pretty much the whole island. They all showed up.”

This year marked the 21st iteration for the Chilean Air Force and the sixth year for Texas to participate through the State Partnership Program.

“They are very appreciative of us being there, said Ivanovski. “Chile is our sister state and we have a lot of things in common not only recently with our military 
exchanges, but historically, so its important for us to keep up that relationship and continue to build on it.”

Davis has served in his career field for over 30 years but this mission gave him a new experience to take back home and share with his students.

“I teach at the University of Houston College of optometry,” said Davis. “You can teach your students about rudimentary eye care and taking care of people in areas of lower social economics but in the U.S. you still have equipment. This is an eye exam, I wouldn’t say in the jungle, but definitely in area with less equipment so it takes you back to the basics.”

The population on the Island is made up Chilean and Rapa Nui locals. 

“Ninety-five percent of the island is Roman Catholic so the priest came out and blessed us,” said Davis. “At the index, they had a party for us and the civilians came out and cooked for us and the mayor was grilling tuna. They were so gracious.”

The Texas National Guard and Chile have been working together for more than seven years through the national states’ partnership program. The program is managed by the National Guard Bureau, and is designed to link each state’s National Guard with a partner nations’ military forces and government agencies in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

“The Chileans and the patients thought it was great,” said Ivanovski. “This was not just a meet and greet event – this was a full up humanitarian operation, planned and executed much like you were rolling up into a disaster zone. It was truly awe inspiring to be a part of that.”

Saturday, September 3, 2016 12:04:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Texas State Guard’s 39th Composite Regiment Welcomes New Commander 

Texas State Guard’s 39th Composite Regiment Welcomes New Commander


Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer

Posted: Sept. 2, 2016

Lt. Col. Jeremy Franklin, incoming commander of the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard. Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Commander, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, hands the regimental guidon to Franklin in a change of command ceremony in Lubbock, Texas, April 23, 2016.  Franklin had previously served as the Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer of the 39th. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer).
Lt. Col. Jeremy Franklin, incoming commander of the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard. Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Commander, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, hands the regimental guidon to Franklin in a change of command ceremony in Lubbock, Texas, April 23, 2016.  Franklin had previously served as the Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer of the 39th. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer).

LUBBOCK, Texas - The 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, welcomed a new commander, Lt. Col. Jeremy Franklin, during a change of command ceremony in Lubbock, Texas, April 23, 2016.  Franklin will lead the regiment that is headquartered in Midland, and contains subordinate battalions and companies in Midland, El Paso, Lubbock and Amarillo.      

Franklin expressed how honored he is to become the commander of the 39th Regiment.  

"We who are fortunate enough to serve in the Texas State Guard will own the reward of true pride and contentment that comes from knowing that we stand ready to serve Texas.  The 39th Regiment is ready 'Always to Defend.’” 

Franklin received a direct commission into the Texas State Guard, Jan. 2008, and began his service as a physician and then as an executive officer of the Midland-Odessa, Medical Response Group, Texas Medical Brigade.  

When the 39th Regiment and the Medical Response Group were combined into the 39th Composite Regiment, he became the 2nd Battalion commander and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 2013.  He then served as the executive officer and chief medical officer for the regiment and was named Commander of the 39th Regiment in April of 2016. 

"Jeremy Franklin has been on my radar for a couple of years, since he became the executive officer and chief medical officer of the 39th Regiment," said Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Commander, Army Component Command.  "He is a thinker, a planner and an excellent communicator.  He is the right man to move the regiment forward to fulfill our duty as 'Texans Serving Texas.’”

Franklin is an honor graduate of both the Texas State Guard Advanced Officer's Course and the Command and General Staff College.

He has received multiple Texas State Guard awards, including the Texas Medal of Merit, Texas Adjutant General’s Individual Award, TXSG Meritorious Service Ribbon with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, TXSG Commanding General’s Individual Award, Texas Service Medal, Texas Faithful Service Medal, TXSG Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Gold Frame and “2” Device, Texas Adjutant General’s Performance Excellence Competition (TAGPEC) Winner, O3-O4 Commands, Governor’s Unit Citation with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Unit Award with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and the TXSG Organizational Excellence Award with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster.

Since 2008, he has deployed every year as a physician provider and Chief Medical Officer for Operation Lone Star, the state's largest annual medical outreach program in the Rio Grande Valley.

He earned his doctorate in medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine.  His residency was in general pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.  His fellowship was in pediatric infectious diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center at Memphis.  He also has earned a Master Degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Emergency and Disaster Management and a Master Degree in Business Administration.

Franklin is a board-certified physician from the American Board of Pediatrics in General Pediatrics and board-certified physician from the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Friday, September 2, 2016 1:52:00 PM Categories: Texas State Guard

Texas Army National Guard brigade assumes USARCENT engineer mission 

Texas Army National Guard brigade assumes USARCENT engineer mission

Story by: Courtesy Story
Posted: Sept. 1, 2016
 

Courtesy Photo | Col. Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos and senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simms, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility. The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Courtesy of 176th Engineer Brigade)
Courtesy Photo | Col. Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos and senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simms, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility. The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Courtesy of 176th Engineer Brigade)

The 176th Engineer Brigade of Grand Prairie, Texas will oversee engineer construction projects throughout the Middle East.

On Sept. 1, 2016, Colonel Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility.  

The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units.  

Major General William Hickman, USARCENT Deputy Commanding General for Operations, was the keynote speaker.  Maj. Gen. Hickman complimented the skill and professionalism of the brigade’s Soldiers and expressed confidence in their ability to excel in any assignment.  

Speaking from the podium, he praised the 176th.  “I know you will be successful in this mission because I can already see the impact you have made.” 

It was a particularly salient and affirming observation from an active component general referring to a task force comprised of Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers.  

Historically, each component has operated in virtual exclusion of the other, but the Global War on Terror has ushered in a new era of unprecedented integration and cooperation among the service branches and components.  

In speaking of the arrangement, Col. Schoening observed that the 176th was selected for the mission after Secretary of Defense consideration of active component, Army Guard brigades. 

“We were selected because we have the training and capability to successfully complete this mission,” said Schoening.  

The Georgetown resident will command an engineer force of nearly 1,700 Soldiers operating in several of the 20 countries throughout the USCENTCOM region. 

While in theater, the Task Force will be engaged in a wide variety of construction and infrastructure projects designed to improve living conditions for U.S. and coalition forces, assist partner nations in defeating ISIS, and build partner capacity through joint training. 

Col. Schoening noted, “This is a historic moment for the 176th Engineer Brigade.  We’re doing things no other engineer brigade headquarters has done before.  Our Soldiers are excited about this mission and the opportunity to serve their country."

Thursday, September 1, 2016 3:29:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Texas Guardsmen sling load Apache helicopter with Chinook 

Texas Guardsmen sling load Apache helicopter with Chinook

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: September 1, 2016 

Texas Guardsmen conduct recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, September 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, Texas, near Houston, due to mechanical issues. Maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) waded through six-inch deep mud and worked in a heat index of more than 100 degrees, to ensure a safe and successful sling load recovery mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)
Texas Guardsmen conduct recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, September 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, Texas, near Houston, due to mechanical issues. Maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) waded through six-inch deep mud and worked in a heat index of more than 100 degrees, to ensure a safe and successful sling load recovery mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

HOUSTON - Texas Guardsmen conducted recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook, Sept. 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, near Houston, due to mechanical issues.

Wading through six-inch deep mud, and working in 97 degree weather with 90 percent humidity, maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) prepared the Apache for a sling-load recovery.

“This was fun,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Guillory, technical inspector and attack helicopter mechanic for the battalion. “For most of us, this is the first real-world sling load we’ve done. We have done it in training plenty, but you can’t beat this. This is the real thing.”

The pilots flying the aircraft initially made the precautionary landing after a warning light went off. 

“They did the right thing,” said Guillory. “You get a warning light, you land, wherever you’re at.”

The soldiers on board the aircraft were not injured and were conducting a routine training mission when the landing occurred. 

“I want to commend our pilots for their quick reaction and landing,” said Maj. Gen. William Smith, Deputy Adjutant-Army and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. “This was a potentially dangerous situation that demonstrates the caliber of our soldiers as they ensured the safety of the citizens in the local area.”

The unit’s leadership determined the safest way to move the helicopter would be by air, mitigating risk to nearby civilians and their property.
The only way to move a 12,000 pound aircraft via air is with something more than twice its size, something like a Chinook.

Using a universal maintenance aviation recovery kit, designed to move a downed aircraft from one location to another, Guillory and a dozen other maintenance soldiers worked to ensure that the Apache could be transported safely. 

As the soldiers worked, a large crowd of nearby Texans gathered to watch the operation, to include a local judge who handed out cold water to the soldiers working, as well as the civilians watching.

“Everyone worked really well together; I thought they interfaced very well with the public,” said Judge Blake Sylvia, Chambers County Justice of the Peace. “From start to finish it was a really good operation.”

It took two attempts to get the Apache in the air. After fixing a small issue with their hook, the Chinook crew was able to successfully sling load the Apache and fly it 16 miles to the Baytown Airfield.

The maintenance soldiers met the two helicopters in Baytown and immediately went to work preparing the Apache for safety inspections and any necessary maintenance. 

“That’s what we do,” said Guillory. “Make sure it’s safe to fly.”

Thursday, September 1, 2016 3:17:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Prayer Breakfast Salutes Armed Forces Day 

PRAYER BREAKFAST SALUTES ARMED FORCES DAY

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG

Posted: Sep. 01, 2016

Texas State Guard chaplains and unit commanders join together to pay tribute to the men and women of the United States and Texas military forces on Armed Forces Day at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2016.  Presenters at this seventh prayer breakfast include George Washington impersonator Mark Collins, Kim Pedersen of 1000bulbs.com, and Bagpiper Steve Pruitt.  (Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG/Released)
Texas State Guard chaplains and unit commanders join together to pay tribute to the men and women of the United States and Texas military forces on Armed Forces Day at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2016.  Presenters at this seventh prayer breakfast include George Washington impersonator Mark Collins, Kim Pedersen of 1000bulbs.com, and Bagpiper Steve Pruitt.  (Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG/Released)

DALLAS – Texas State Guardsmen from North Texas gathered to honor the U.S. and Texas service members at the Seventh Annual Texas State Guard Military Prayer Breakfast at Dallas Baptist University, May 21, 2016. 
More than 200 State Guard chaplains and troops from North Texas, along with family members and friends, joined together to salute their fellow service members.  

“The Texas State Guard is proud to honor the men and women of the U.S Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day,” said State Guard chaplain, Maj. Dale Vick, 2nd Regiment. “Texas State Guard chaplains organize this event every year." 

The program included an inspirational presentation by Gen. George Washington impersonator, Mark Collins, who spoke about how his faith guided him during the difficult times during the American Revolution.  
To honor Texas State Guardsmen who had passed away during the previous year, Chaplains (Capt.) David Fish, 4th Regiment, and 1st Lt. Shane Tomlinson, 19th Regiment, conducted a roll call ceremony, identifying each troop, followed by the ringing of a bell and “Taps,” played by Eagle Scout Travis Wattigney.  

Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., also presented the Sword of Solomon to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jerald Garner for his dedicated service to the Texas State Guard.  Garner initiated the prayer breakfast in 2009 and created the statewide annual Texas State Guard "Heroes of the Guard" Christmas Toy Drive, where soldiers collect thousands of toys and deliver them to children who will spend the holidays at hospitals across Texas.

Other high points of the breakfast included the swearing in of Texas State Guard Chaplains (Col.) Douglas Sewell and (1st Lt. Steve Kavli, the playing of "Amazing Grace" by Bagpiper Steve Pruitt, the singing of "America the Beautiful" by Jeannie Miller, key note speaker remarks by Kim Pederson, former Hydraulic Aviation Technicians for the U.S. Navy and founder of 1000bulbs.com and the welcoming remarks of Dr. Dennis Linam of Dallas Baptist University.  The 4th Regiment Color Guard presented the colors.

The Texas State Guard is the state's volunteer military agency; trained, organized and ready to respond when a disaster strikes and Texans need help. It is comprised of more than 1,800 volunteers organized into four components – Army, Air, Medical and Maritime – with individual units assigned throughout the state. 

 

 

Thursday, September 1, 2016 11:20:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Texas Guardsmen graduate Chilean Mountain School 

Texas Guardsmen graduate Chilean Mountain School

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Texas Military Department

Texas Guardsmen attend the Chilean Mountain School course August 15-26, 2016 in Portillo, Chile with Chilean army soldiers. The 10-day course consisted of basic competencies on movement, maneuvering, and life-saving techniques in spring and winter mountain terrain. Through these military exchanges, soldiers are given the opportunity to experience new types of operations. (Courtesy Photo)
Texas Guardsmen attend the Chilean Mountain School course August 15-26, 2016 in Portillo, Chile with Chilean army soldiers. The 10-day course consisted of basic competencies on movement, maneuvering, and life-saving techniques in spring and winter mountain terrain. Through these military exchanges, soldiers are given the opportunity to experience new types of operations. (Courtesy Photo)

RIO BLANCO, Chile – Twenty-one Texas Guardsmen successfully completed the “Escuela de Montaña” Chilean Mountain School short course August 15-26, 2016 in Rio Blanco. 

“The course was designed as a two-week synopsis of their four-month long mountain warfare course, which is similar to our Ranger school,” said Texas Army National Guard 1st. Lt. Michael A. Affeldt, scout platoon leader of the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 143rd Infantry Regiment, and officer in charge of the Texas military exchange for the course. “So it’s a pretty prestigious course to go through in Chile.” 

The 21 Guardsmen had to score at least a 290 on the Army Physical Fitness Texas, speak Spanish and have previous experience in cold weather and mountain terrain. The course consists of basic competencies on movement, maneuvering and life-saving techniques in spring and winter mountain terrain.

“The course starts off in Rio Blanco, which is at the base of the mountains. It was 30 degrees at night and 65 degrees during the day,” said Texas Army National Guard Cpl. Nicholas C. Graff, fire team leader with the 143rd Infantry Regiment. 

The first phase focused on summer climbing techniques such as rock climbing, repelling, ascending and water crossings.

“We practiced pack animal training so we used mules,” said Graff. “They use mules to carry gear where they can’t get vehicles. All the stuff that we did in the summer phase, led into a culminating event for the winter section.”

The second phase consisted of winter operations such as, cross-country ski, downhill skiing, medevac and foreign weapons familiarization.

“We also dug snow shelters that we slept in a couple nights. Digging ice caves was a lot of fun,” said Graff.

Texas’ coldest winters couldn’t hold up to the Chilean seven-degree mountain climate, but Affeldt said his Soldiers kept perseverance throughout the course.

“Downhill skiing was a struggle in itself, then they threw in cross-country skiing, which is a little bit more difficult. So the first day everyone was kind of looking like Bambi, but by the end of the week we were able to climb up mountain and do a company exercise,” said Affeldt.

Through these military exchanges, soldiers are given the opportunity to experience new types of operations. 

“The ability to sit down with another army and to be able to hang out with people of a different culture, and see the world through their eyes was incredible,” said Affeldt.

Texas National Guard and Chile have been working together since 2009 though the National States’ partnership program. The program is managed by the National Guard Bureau, and is designed to link a state’s National Guard with a partner nation’s military forces and government agencies in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

“The way it benefits the Texas Military Department is the ability for us to take soldiers from across the division and entire state and send them to an environment to train in that we don’t have the ability to train in,” said Affeldt. “Now we have Soldiers coming back that understand how to do operations in cold weather climates, mountainous terrain and how to deal with adversity in different environments.”

Although the training environment between Chile and Texas may differ slightly, military-to-military battle rhythms are quite similar.

“The army values were a major part of the training,” said Affeldt. “It took large amounts of personal courage for some to overcome uncomfortable and new situations, but when it comes down to it, duty and honor wouldn't let us fail.”

Last year, the Texas Military Department conducted 14 military exchanges with Chilean partners that included engineering, medical and disaster response as well as the best warrior competition. 

“It’s crazy that the soldier mentality transfers that far,” said Graff. “They like to train, they like to go hard everyone seemed to get along really well. The best thing we did was build relationships down there and learning how to interact with them and who they are as people. I made some good friends.”

The Texas Military Department is scheduled to host their Chilean partners this November to conduct search and rescue training at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.

Friday, August 26, 2016 3:56:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Texas Gunfighters join in Hawaii ANG’s Sentry Aloha 

Texas Gunfighters join in Hawaii ANG’s Sentry Aloha

Story by: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem


Posted: August 26, 2016

Brig. Gen. Gregory Woodrow, commander of the 154th Wing, assists Master Sgt. Jacqueline Crow, Operations Intelligence Analyst, with operating the parachute release as Tech. Sgt. Kevin Yamaguchi, crew chief, both of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, observes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 22, 2016. All members completed water survival training as a requirement prior to taking a flight with the 149th F-16 Fighting Falcons as part of the Sentry Aloha 2016, a large-scale fighter exercise hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Rebekkah Jandron)
Brig. Gen. Gregory Woodrow, commander of the 154th Wing, assists Master Sgt. Jacqueline Crow, Operations Intelligence Analyst, with operating the parachute release as Tech. Sgt. Kevin Yamaguchi, crew chief, both of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, observes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 22, 2016. All members completed water survival training as a requirement prior to taking a flight with the 149th F-16 Fighting Falcons as part of the Sentry Aloha 2016, a large-scale fighter exercise hosted by the Hawaii Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Rebekkah Jandron)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Pilots, maintainers and various support personnel from the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing traveled to Hawaii to participate in Sentry Aloha, Aug. 17-26, 2016. 

Sentry Aloha is a large-scale, combat exercise that employs several different fighter and support aircraft from varying Air Force units, maneuvering together in a simulated wartime environment. 

Various aircraft – C-130s, KC-135s, C-17s, F-16s, F-15s, F-22s – lined the ramps along Hickam’s runway ramps in order to perform strategic joint combat operations.

“Part of the purpose of Sentry Aloha is to integrate with the other Guard platforms as well as some active duty units that are here to better understand how each other operates, so if called upon for some type of contingency, we have a backbone to fall on – that we’ve operated together, and we can all be force multipliers for each other,” said Lt. Col. Kristian Thiele, a 149th Fighter Wing F-16 instructor pilot. 

Performing these coordinated scenarios with other type of aircraft was a chance for the 149th FW pilots to broaden their scope of training.

“Back home, we typically fight F-16s against F-16s, so to get to work on the same team with other aircraft, both F-15s and F-22s, teaches everyone how the different systems work and how we can all work together, enhancing our strength,” said Lt. Col. Louis Davenport, another 149th FW F-16 pilot. 

Davenport is a traditional Guardsman who typically comes to the unit to fly the F-16 aircraft once a month during Unit Training Assembly weekends, or “drill” as it’s known among Guard members.  

“This really provides me an opportunity to get to know everyone and figure out what’s going on in the unit and to just get a greater opportunity for continuity of learning,” Davenport said. “I mean, I’m here flying at least one mission a day, so it really compounds our capabilities, at least for me, instead of being like, ‘well, that was great and now I’m going to do my other job.’ Now I’ve got two weeks of intense training.“

Since the primary mission of the 149th FW is to train and create combat capable F-16 pilots, this exercise also added unique value to the pilots’ distinctive skill set.

“We are definitely fighting some pretty difficult scenarios, learning a lot of good lessons based on those scenarios,” said Thiele. “We don’t necessarily get the opportunity to do a lot of this high-level integration with very robust threats so we are getting a lot out of it, and I think a kind of ‘re-blueing’ as we would call it in our community – getting to see a lot of these newer combat tactics and be involved in it.”

The fighter pilots weren’t the only ones involved in the exercise. Several supporting agencies from the wing traveled by military airlift to offer their assistance for this year’s training as well, which featured more than 40 aircraft from eight other states. 

Capt. Christopher Myers, a logistics readiness officer with the 149th FW’s Logistics Readiness Squadron, understands the kind of effort it takes to pull off an event of this scale. Myers, who was in charge of requesting airlift and arranging many of the logistical details that go into deploying nearly 80 personnel, began the planning several months in advance. 

“There’s a lot that goes into planning these things out – a lot more than people realize,” Myers said in regards to figuring out details like cargo, bus transportation, securing forklift operators, and all the other minutiae a trip like this entails. He likened it to putting out fires, where once you put one out, another one pops up. 

“It basically comes down to thinking through the entire process,” Myers said. “That’s the hardest part is trying to think through the whole process – all the variables and everything that can go wrong.”

The host of support is not lost on the fighter pilots training in this exercise. They know a lot of people are behind them to make a mission like Sentry Aloha happen. 

“Everyone has been able to launch their full complement of aircraft so we can conduct the mission because of the great support from not only the Sentry Aloha staff providing for us here but obviously also just the internal unit – the folks we bring along to make the mission happen,” Thiele said. 

And for Thiele, that team effort is much of what makes the Guard shine during these types of training events. 

“This is Guard-centric exercise, typically, but what I really think it shows is how important the Guard is to not only the overall structure of the Air Force but also the military in general and what we bring to the fight,” he said. “You’ve got F-22s here at Hickam that are on the leading edge of what’s going on here in PACAF (Pacific Air Forces) and PACOM (U.S. Pacific Command) and they’re a Guard unit. Same with the (F-15) Eagles that are down here, so getting to bring in some stateside guys, getting them a little taste into what’s going on right now in PACAF and PACOM, then seeing that from an entire Guard perspective how we can do stuff – I think it’s good for the Guard and good for everyone else to see how involved we are around the world.“

Friday, August 26, 2016 3:53:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Exportable Combat Training Capability 16-5 

Exportable Combat Training Capability 16-5

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool and Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler

Posted: Aug. 26, 2016
 

Soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 42nd Infantry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, look out from their attack positions behind a hill during a dismounted platoon attack lane at Fort Hood, Aug. 14. The brigade’s annual training, the Exportable Combat Training Capability program, allowed platoons to complete lanes and then to recap their performance during an instrumented after action review. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool)
Soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 42nd Infantry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, look out from their attack positions behind a hill during a dismounted platoon attack lane at Fort Hood, Aug. 14. The brigade’s annual training, the Exportable Combat Training Capability program, allowed platoons to complete lanes and then to recap their performance during an instrumented after action review. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool)

FORT HOOD, Texas - Nearly 2,600 soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard’s 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, descended on Fort Hood for the Exportable Combat Training Capability program 16-5, Aug. 6-26.

The xCTC program is an Army National Guard brigade held training exercise designed to certify combat proficiency at the platoon level with support from First Army.

“The purpose of an xCTC is to train a National Guard BCT’s platoons to proficiency,” said Col. Jim Isenhower, commander, 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade, First Army (Division West).

The 56th includes infantry, scout, and artillery units. In addition medical, engineer, signal,and several support platoons comprise the brigade.

“Each of their platoons have very different missions and our job is to help them train to proficiency during their ready-year 3,” he added.

With support from nearly 300 Observer/Coach, Trainers (O/CTs) of the 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the Guardsman tackled multiple training lanes ranging from vehicle recovery and platoon defensive operations to mass casualty and route clearance procedures.

Each lane conducted multiple iterations following a crawl- walk-run strategy and was followed by an interactive after action review that ensured each participating platoon identified their deficiencies and applied those lessons learned to future repetitions.

“It’s been the best training I’ve seen in years,” said Col. David Webb, commander of the 56th IBCT for the past two years. “It’s shown me where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on in training-year 17.”

The multi-faceted brigade is spread across several hundred miles of the north, central, east and west regions of Texas. Annual training allows the brigade to work as one cohesive unit.

“The reality of the training far exceeded anything we could do on a drill weekend and with the OPFOR, and xCTC effects, there’s no hiding, your readiness is right there in black and white. Because of it we are phenomenally better then when we started on day one,” Webb added.

Capt. Joanna Van Engel, commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 949th Brigade Support Battalion, 56th IBCT, agreed with Webb about the training value and importance and stressed its role in increasing her unit’s readiness.

“It increased our readiness because when my Soldiers get realistic, real-world training they learn how to react as a team and that cohesiveness translates to a combat environment,” Van Engel said. “It also gives us the validation that we need that our troops can perform in a combat situation and it gives them confidence in themselves and each other.”

Van Engel and Webb both went on to attribute much of their unit’s success during the exercise to the 189th CATB OC/T support.

“I really appreciate what the OC/Ts did to create realistic training,” Van Engel said. “They gave us some very valuable guidance and were able to observe my troops from aspects that I can’t always get to. They really served as my eyes and ears.”

Following each lane iteration, the platoons gathered with the OC/Ts to have an interactive after action review. Notes were augmented with two and three- dimensional troop movements, as well as video recordings.

“Their method was to come out here, support us, and make us better and they helped us to be successful,” Webb added.

The Guardsmen and women were not graded, but given a benchmark. They were then trained and coached to improvement and proficiency.

“We are indebted to them for all of their help and mentorship and honest evaluation. The 189 just basically never said no. They facilitated anything that I asked them to. It’s been the best OC/T experience I’ve had, and I’ve had several.”

Since its  first rotation held in 2005, the xCTC program has been designed to provide tough, realistic training for participating brigades as well as methods for achieving company level and battalion battle staff  proficiency for ARNG units during pre- mobilization training.

The exercise also satisfies requirements for possible participation in future Combat Training Center rotations at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, or the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

Friday, August 26, 2016 3:34:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Lone Star Gunfighter soars at Pentagon 

Lone Star Gunfighter soars at Pentagon

Story By: 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain

Posted on: August 23, 2016

Photo By 94th Airlift Wing | Air Force Gen. (then Maj.) Joseph L. Lengyel (second from left), the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, stands alongside fellow F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots assigned to the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, during an overseas deployment, circa 1996. Lengyel was a member of the wing from 1991-2004. Pictured left to right: Bryan Bailey (unknown rank), Lengyel, Mike Littrell (unknown rank), and Ray Segui (unknown rank). (Photo courtesy of Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel via www.Facebook.com/GeneralLengyel)
Photo By 94th Airlift Wing | Air Force Gen. (then Maj.) Joseph L. Lengyel (second from left), the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, stands alongside fellow F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots assigned to the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, during an overseas deployment, circa 1996. Lengyel was a member of the wing from 1991-2004. Pictured left to right: Bryan Bailey (unknown rank), Lengyel, Mike Littrell (unknown rank), and Ray Segui (unknown rank). (Photo courtesy of Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel via www.Facebook.com/GeneralLengyel)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A former member of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard was promoted to the rank of general and became the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Department of Defense, in Washington, Aug. 3, 2016.

Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel of Bulverde, Texas, succeeds Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, as the Pentagon’s senior National Guard leader and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Grass, a Missouri National Guardsman, is scheduled to retire later this month after four decades of military service.

Lengyel’s appointment follows his service as the first three-star, NGB vice chief.

“Gen. Lengyel is the right man for this critical position, and the depth and breadth of his experience make him exceptionally well-qualified,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas, during Lengyel’s Senate confirmation hearing, on June 22, 2016, in Washington.

“His 34 years of distinguished military service include an array of operational, staff, and command assignments,” Cornyn said, “as well as service in Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Southern Watch, and Enduring Freedom.”

In his new role, Lengyel will serve as a key military advisor to the president, secretary of defense and the National Security Council, as well as serve as the Pentagon’s official channel of communication to the state’s governors and adjutants general on all matters pertaining to the National Guard.

He is now responsible for ensuring that nearly 470,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat resources to the Army and Air Force.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with what I see with the integration of the active force with the reserve components,” Lengyel said. “We have no other choice but to leverage the business model of the reserve components as we go forward.”

While he’s at the peak of National Guard leadership, the general’s military roots run deep through the state of Texas.

Lengyel earned his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of North Texas, in Denton, and earned his pilot’s wings at Laughlin Air Force Base, near Del Rio.

After serving nearly ten years in the Regular Air Force, Lengyel transitioned to the Texas Air National Guard, where he flew with the 182nd Fighter Squadron at San Antonio’s Kelly Field. The 182nd is a subordinate unit of the 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and the members of the unit are known as the Lone Star Gunfighters.

“I’m proud to serve alongside Gen. Lengyel,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the 51st Adjutant General of Texas, who served with Lengyel at the 149th Fighter Wing when both were colonels. “He’s been a wingman for me, in the air and in life. He has the character to do what’s right and takes care of his people.”

Lengyel served in numerous roles at the 149th Fighter Wing, culminating as vice wing commander, before he was selected to serve as an expeditionary operations group commander at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

“He continues to make us proud,” Nichols said. “We stand behind him as he takes on this greater responsibility. Gen. Lengyel’s expertise, experience and dedicated service are a great asset to Texas and the United States.”

“As vice chief, and now chief, his charge is to look many years into the future and help guide and shape a National Guard force that meets our nation’s needs,” Nichols said. “I trust him to do what’s right for America. In addition to making the right decisions, I know he will continue to inspire those who follow him, just as he did here (in Texas).”

Throughout his time in the Lone Star State, Lengyel has touched the lives of those with whom he served.

“He genuinely cares about others,” said retired Lt. Col. Greg Whiting, a former Gunfighter and current chief of air operations for Headquarters, Texas Air National Guard, in Austin. “It’s who he is and it has always shaped everything he has done.”

Even as his military career has taken him away from the 149th Fighter Wing, Lengyel has remained connected with the Gunfighter community, taking time to interact with Gunfighters when their missions overlap.

Whiting said he first met Lengyel in 1990, at Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey, prior to the start of the Gulf War. Later, they served together for several years at the 149th Fighter Wing.

“He’s always been approachable,” Whiting said. “Even as he moved up the leadership chain, his situational awareness was always there. He knew what was going on around him because he cared about the people around him - and still does.”

Whiting said he next served with Lengyel during the mid-‘90s, when they were both assigned to the 149th Fighter Wing. At the time, there was paradigm shift underway in the Air National Guard, leading to more professional operations.

“We started mirroring and employing active duty tactics,” Whiting said. “He was, without a doubt, the most foundational guy that brought the Gunfighters, and the 149th Fighter Wing, up to where we’re not just a sub for the active duty, but we’re on par with the active duty.”

Whiting said power and position have not changed Lengyel from the man he has known for 25 years.

“My first impression of him hasn’t changed as long as I’ve known him,” Whiting said. “He lived the Air Force Core Values (Integrity First – Service Before Self – Excellence in All We Do) long before they became officially embraced by the Air Force.”

Based on these innate values, Whiting said, Lengyel built trust with his fellow Gunfighters.

“He didn’t just do it, he excelled at it,” Whiting said. “Integrity is what builds trust, and trust is what you have to have in the fighter world. You have to be able to trust your wingman, those in your flight, and that’s what he did.”

Whiting attributes Lengyel’s success to leading by example and setting the standard for others to follow.

“If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it, and if you say you’re going do something, he expects you to do it,” Whiting said. “It’s a great thing, especially when a leader holds people accountable. It was a professional thing; that’s what makes everyone function at a higher level than they’re used to.”

Whiting also discussed the new chief’s proficiency as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, including how Lengyel remained a top performer as a traditional, citizen-airman of the National Guard while also working full-time as a commercial airline pilot.

“He could be on airline trips for a month or more, and come back and lead an 8-ship strike package to the tanker, fight his way into the target against red air, and somehow know that six miles behind him, ‘No. 8’ was out of position,” Whiting said. “Everybody wanted to be paired with him, because they trusted him, and well, the guy is one of the most gifted fighter pilots I’ve ever flown with.”

During his first remarks as chief, Lengyel discussed the challenges of balancing a military and civilian career.

“One of the most important partnerships that I want to mention is with our employers,” Lengyel said. “Our business model doesn’t work without them. I have been on extended military leave (from a commercial airline)."

Lengyel said the airline he flies for has more than 200 pilots currently on military leave, allowing them to serve in uniform.

“There are hundreds more that have to manipulate the schedules,” Lengyel said. The airline “has to work around to make their model work so that we’re not late and there’s pilots and aviators there” to serve their customers.

Lengyel thanked the work of civilian employers, like his, who work with their National Guard employees to ensure the employees never have to choose one profession over the other.

Praise for Lengyel’s character was also shared up the military chains of command.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said, at the change of responsibility ceremony, “I know that the men and women of our National Guard, and the families that stand by them, will be well served by General Joe Lengyel who is not only an accomplished pilot and experienced commander, but is also a military son, husband, brother and a father.”

The general’s father, retired Lt. Col. Lauren R. Lengyel, was an RF-4 Phantom II reconnaissance pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and served six years as a prisoner of war. He returned to service and retired from the Air Force in 1990.

Lengyel’s wife, Sally, is an Air Force veteran, and their son, Capt. Michael J. Lengyel is following in his father’s footsteps as an F-16 pilot. Additionally, the new NGB leader’s brother, Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Lengyel, also an Air Force pilot, is the deputy commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command, headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Lengyel is a “proven strategic thinker and citizen warrior,” Carter said. “Gen. Lengyel will lead this force with certainty, clarity, and the full confidence and trust of myself and the president.”

Lengyel, a reserve officer on active duty who retains membership in the Texas Air National Guard, has also been praised by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s commander-in-chief.

“Having defended our nation both at home and abroad, Gen. Lengyel brings a wealth of experience to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Abbott said. “Gen. Lengyel’s outstanding service at both the state and national levels has prepared him for this important role on our nation’s most critical body of military leaders.”

The new chief has remained humble and forward-looking throughout his transition.

“Although we are proud of our heritage and our past, I am more excited about our future,” Lengyel said after his nomination was announced. “The development of our most important assets, our people, will be our foremost task.”

Lengyel said his focus will be in three areas: supporting the Army and Air Force in any current or future warfight, defending the homeland, and building partnerships.

He also praised the soldiers and airmen of the National Guard in his first letter to the force, the day after he was sworn in.

“You serve with valor in combat,” Lengyel wrote. “Here at home, no matter the cause – natural disaster, crime, terrorism – you bring safety and resiliency to our communities. All the while, you partner with our allies around the world; with our federal, state, and territorial government partners; and with our fellow citizens throughout the country.”

“I look forward to working hard every day to tell your story,” Lengyel wrote.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 7:40:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard