Texas Army National Guard’s Camp Bowie and Brownwood grow together

Lt. Col. Jamey Creek, Training Center Garrison Command manager and officer in charge- Camp Bowie, Texas Army National Guard, center, Brownwood resident and Camp Bowie neighbor Phil Richey, left, and Del Albright, Ffire chief and emergency management coordinator, City of Brownwood, Texas, right, overlook a hill on the north side of Camp Bowie after discussing business, May 16, 2013
Lt. Col. Jamey Creek, Training Center Garrison Command manager and officer in charge- Camp Bowie, Texas Army National Guard, center, Brownwood resident and Camp Bowie neighbor Phil Richey, left, and Del Albright, Fire chief and emergency management coordinator, City of Brownwood, Texas, right, overlook a hill on the north side of Camp Bowie after discussing business, May 16, 2013. As the Camp Bowie Training Center manager, Creek is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the 9,000-acre land, as well as meeting with various local, county and state officials and concerned citizens. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Laura L. Lopez).

 Story by: Laura Lopez

 CAMP BOWIE, Texas – It is a training site that dates back to World War II, where soldiers with the Texas Army National  Guard’s 36th Infantry Division completed training before landing on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. The, then-5,000  plus acres of Camp Bowie, in Brownwood, Texas, was acquired by the Texas Military Forces in 1949, with the southern  portion of the now almost 9,000-acre site added in 1993 and 1994.

 One of four major Texas Army National Guard training centers, a part of the state’s Training Center Garrison Command,  Camp Bowie employs 32 full-time federal and state employees and is responsible for ensuring mobilization and unit-  training requirements are met year-round for the more than 25,000 men and women that make up the Texas Military  Forces. 

 “My sole purpose in life is to provide adequate facilities for those units to train,” said Lt. Col. Jamey Creek, the camp’s  manager and officer-in-charge. “That includes billeting, multiple live-fire ranges, digital training aides, land navigation,  maneuver space and roadside bomb [and] route clearance defeat lanes necessary for them to meet their qualification  requirements.” 

 Training more than 419,000 service members and other local emergency and first responders since 2006, records  indicate Camp Bowie usage averages almost 70,000 people a year. For the 38,000 residents living in the city of  Brownwood and Brown County, each and every person in the Texas National Guard is more than just a visitor.

 “You could say they are our family because we are such a small community,” said Sunni Modawell, the tourism manager  for the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. “Everybody knows everyone else and over time you know their  spouses, you know their children – so essentially they are our family.” 

 In addition to the Army Guard, other components of the Texas Military Forces regularly conduct training at the facility. In  fact, for the past 10 years, the volunteer Texas State Guard has held their two-week annual training encampment at Camp Bowie and says the location and staff makes for a positive experience.

"Camp Bowie is a great resource," said Brig. Gen. Charles Miller, the Texas State Guard's chief of staff, in Austin. "We've found its location to be ideal for our members and its facilities and environment perfect for training, plus the staff there is always accommodating and extremely professional.”

A place where many residents say it is not uncommon to see military vehicles driving throughout town or to run into a handful of service members at local establishments, one longtime Camp Bowie neighbor, with his own ties to the Texas National Guard, said his relationship with the training site has been a good one focused on mutual respect and understanding.

“If I have to listen to helicopters and 50-caliber machine guns, and that helps out, then I am OK with it. You have to look at the big picture,” said Phil Richey of Brownwood, a resident who lives near Camp Bowie’s northern perimeter. “I think these folks here [in Brownwood] realize that the soldiers are providing a service here and if we are going to remain number one in the world we have to have a well-trained Army.”

A training site host to disaster and emergency preparedness exercises where they combine local, state and federal agencies aimed at sharing best practices, Creek said Camp Bowie also supports training requests from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Forest Service, to name a few.

According to the Brownwood Fire Department, the relationship with the Texas Army National Guard (or Texas Military Forces) has not only strengthened the region’s mutual aid agreement, but has been instrumental in expanding their training capabilities. 

“As a result of the Texas National Guard allowing us to place our mobile fire training trailer on their property we can better serve our residents through continuous training,” said Del Albright, Brownwood’s fire chief and emergency management coordinator. “Without their support, our mobile fire training trailer would be just a piece of equipment we couldn’t use.” 

For Creek, he said it is his principled beliefs in personal communication and strong relationships that enable him to keep many issues concerning the nearby neighbors from escalating, even when unfavorable circumstances arise.

“In 2006, when a wildfire got out of control in less than ideal conditions and jumped the fence, I had some minor property damage,” Richey said. “Lt. Col. Creek was instrumental in ensuring I got some financial relief.” 

A resident of Brownwood for nearly 40 years, Richey said the one downside of having Camp Bowie against his property line is the dust created by the dirt road that serves as a firebreak between the properties. Quick to compliment Camp Bowie management for their concern and willingness to find solutions to mitigate the problem, Richey said he is optimistic about the outcome.

“I don’t expect it to be not completely dusty, but you hate to look over and see dust 100 feet in the air,” he said.

From serving the residents of this small town in west-central Texas, those with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce said the Texas National Guard’s impact extends beyond providing a piece of mind and building relationships.

“I can’t imagine any aspect of our community without Camp Bowie,” Modawell said. 

In 2012, Brownwood Chamber of Commerce’s economic impact reports show direct visitor spending totaled $50.4 million, and local sales tax receipts equaled more than $1 million. 

In addition to providing state-of-the-art training facilities and simulators to enhance the readiness of the Texas Army National Guard, Creek said he hopes to continue expanding the area’s mutual aid agreement and maintain positive working relationships with the citizens of Brownwood and various local, state and federal agencies and said their support could not be better.

“Support from this community is amazing. It’s an incredible feeling to know we are supported that much,” he said.

The Texas Army National Guard’s other training centers include Camp Swift, near Bastrop, in central Texas, Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells, west of Fort Worth, and Fort Maxey in Powderly, northeast of Dallas, near the Texas-Oklahoma border.

 

 

 

Texas National Guard recycling, it benefits you … and your unit?

Kenneth Zunker stands in front of recycling trailers at the Texas Military Forces recycling facility on Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.
Kenneth Zunker stands in front of recycling trailers at the Texas Military Forces recycling facility on Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Zunker, the manager of the recycling center, hopes to use recycling trailers to help increase the reach of the recycling program throughout Texas. Based in Austin, the program serves service members at more than 100 locations throughout the state. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Mary Jo Snavely)

 Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Reduce, reuse, recycle – most people recognize this mantra, words that promote a greener tomorrow. But according to retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ken Zunker, these are more than just words; they are words to live by. 

 Zunker, recycling operations coordinator and manager for the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) Qualified Recycling Program, works as a part of a four-man operation that currently serves TXMF locations across Texas. Although the recycling efforts had already been started, the program was not qualified by the National Guard Bureau until 2010. In 2011, Zunker came on and by 2012 TXMF opened its first dedicated recycling facility.

 “Reuse is part of recycling” - he stated, indicating that it applies to both TXMF and the surrounding communities. When  the old 51st Street Armory, which was located near the Austin/Bergstrom International Airport, closed in May 2012,  service members recycled 893 tons of refuse. Within that pile were 24 small desks. Camp Mabry’s program does not  currently recycle wood, but that did not stop Zunker from finding a way to recycle those desks.

 After coordinating with the Texas Army National Guard’s Youth Services Program located at Camp Mabry, Zunker found a home for each desk.

 The desks were in excellent condition and exactly the right size for children, said Bob Hankins, the Child and Youth Program Lead for TXMF.

Hankins said he reached out to the Austin Independent School District and discovered that Barrington Elementary School had been given a portable classroom, but did not yet have the funding to fully furnish the classroom. According to Hankins, he worked with Zunker to ensure Barrington Elementary received all 24 desks, further enabling the school’s teaching abilities.

Since that day, Zunker and Hankins said they have worked together in an effort to benefit the families of both the service members and the local community. 

“He will stop by my office with a bunch of recycled gift bags wanting to know if we can find a use for them,” said Hankins. “He does little things like that and it has helped lots and lots of kids. If I get a request for something, like tables, we will tell Ken and he will keep an eye out for that item.”

Zunker stated that the recycling crew often fills special requests of these types. One of his most common requests is boxes from people who are moving. If given at least a week’s notice, Zunker said the crew will set aside large boxes for anyone who asks.
Zunker said he believes in reusing as much as possible, always looking for someone who might benefit from the items that are dropped off at the recycle center.

“It feels good to be able to help others,” he said.

Zunker retired from the Texas Army National Guard in 2008. He served as a maintenance chief for 37 and a half years - as a Soldier, then as a civil servant.

After being retired for six months, Zunker said he was “bored stiff and tired of talking to the dog.” Zunker went on stating that during this time he accepted a position in supply with the Texas Military Forces Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Saginaw. It was there that Zunker caught the recycle bug.

“I noticed all of this scrap metal lying around,” said Zunker. “I figured I could recycle it, but wasn’t sure how to. So I did the research and found out how to (within regulation) recycle and sell it.”

Zunker’s experience prompted him to apply for the recycle coordinator position that he now holds. 

“One of my goals, and it might happen next year, is to be able to give 25 dollars per service member to the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation account each year,” said Zunker. 

According to the Department of Defense, the Qualified Recycling Program is a cost beneficial recycling program that follows strict regulations. Specific guidance on how to sell recycled products for a price is outlined.

Based on regulations, money made from the recycled products will first cover all of the program’s expenses. The remaining funds are then split between pollution prevention projects, for example, purchasing spill kits for any unit in need, and the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation account, to be used for any morale or welfare activity.

“We are already spending money to dispose of waste,” said Leon McCowan, the Resource Conservation Recovery Act Manager for TXMF. “Why not spend that same money to recycle as much as possible, and then get a little money back?”

According to the program’s financial reports, the recycle program has made over 20 thousand dollars so far this year. With the new brass deformer, a machine that crunches brass casings, the recycle crew can now recycle brass, which, according to Zunker, could triple the amount the program brings in each year. 

“We take almost anything, we are about landfill diversion,” said Zunker.

Although most people probably think of paper, plastic and cardboard when they see the green and blue recycle bins, Zunker said the facility can recycle much more than that. On top of the normal recyclables one might think of, Camp Mabry’s recycling center also accepts old cell phones, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, compact disks, old floppy disks, any kind of wiring or cable, used ink cartridges and anything made of metal.

This past spring the recycle program was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s South Central Federal Green Challenge in the waste category. TXMF was awarded with a Federal Green Challenge award recognizing the dramatic decrease in the amount of waste disposed, resulting from the dramatic increase of recycling.

According to the 2011 facility recycle tracker, 222 tons were recycled; in 2012, 311 tons were recycled. The amount continues to increase, so far this year over 1,000 tons have been recycled.

“[Zunker] came in and grabbed the bull by the horns,” McCowan said. “Where we are now is because of his innovation and integrity. He has made this program visible and by making it visible it stays on people’s minds.” 

Additional program reports show more than 100 TXMF locations are recycling used oil and scrap metal, but 27 of these spots have a more developed recycle program set up. Zunker’s goal is to expand the program to reach every unit. One of his ideas, to help expand the program, is to supply units with a recycling trailer, giving each unit the ability to drop off a full trailer at any TXMF recycling hub.

“Mr. Zunker had to be the backbone of this program. When he started he was by himself, but now it has become a real team effort. State Maintenance, many others from [the Construction and Facilities Management Office] and definitely service members have provided their assistance when possible. The success of this program could not have been done without the hard work of the entire team,” said McCowan. 

It seems that everywhere Zunker goes, people both like and respect him. He is often seen smiling and saying hello to people as he walks by. He might even stop to ensure you are recycling your empty ink cartridges.

Hankins said he especially likes the energy that Zunker brings to the recycle program, adding,
“He is a guy with the passion to create a self-sustaining program that will benefit every person in the Texas Military Forces, not just Camp Mabry.” 

For more information, on the TXMF Recycling Program or to get started on recycling at your TXMF location, contact Ken Zunker or Maj. (Ret.) Penny Chencharick, the TXMF Recycling Plans Coordinator, at (512) 782-6838 or (512) 782-6683.

Austin-Governor Rick Perry has reappointed Major General (TX) Manuel 'Tony' Rodriguez

Posted on: 03-Sept-13

Austin-Governor Rick Perry has reappointed Major General (TX) Manuel 'Tony' Rodriguez to the position of Commander, Texas State Guard effective 01 Sept 2013.  In speaking of the reappointment, Major General Rodriguez said, "I am honored that the Governor and General Nichols have confidence in my leadership and I am pleased to be able to continue to serve with the soldiers, airman and maritime members of the Texas State Guard which I believe are the finest State Defense Force in the Nation." 

This is Major General Rodriguez's second one year term as Commander of the Texas State Guard and follows a distinguished career in the United States Army.  MG Rodriguez is a graduate of the US Army Airborne School, the US Army Air Assault School, the Armor Officer Basic Course (Cavalry track), the Military Intelligence Officer's Advanced Course, the US Army Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the US Army Command & General Staff Officer School, and US Army School of Advanced Military Studies. His civilian education includes a Bachelor of Science in History, a Master’s degree in Military Arts and Sciences and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

The Texas State Guard is one of three components of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), operating under the command of the Adjutant General of Texas and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces. The TXMF includes the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas State Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.

19th Regiment(CA) recently honored the Service

Posted on: 29-Aug-13
Photo of GroupThe 19th Regiment(CA) recently honored the Service, Leadership and Dedication of LTC Barry Hobbs their Executive Officer and CSM Mike Burtenshaw their Regimental CSM in a Service in Dallas with a presentation of swords for a job well done and as fine examples of Texans helping Texans.

Perry signs 'Chris Kyle Bill,' allows military experience for Texas state licenses

Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits with Taya Kyle, wife of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, following the signing of Senate Bill 162 at the Texas State Capitol, in Austin, Texas, Aug. 28, 2013.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits with Taya Kyle, wife of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, following the signing of Senate Bill 162 at the Texas State Capitol, in Austin, Texas, Aug. 28, 2013. Senate Bill 162 has been called the "Chris Kyle Bill" because it recognizes the achievements of service members with special operations training, by allowing them credit toward state law enforcement licenses. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain)

Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 

 AUSTIN, Texas – In a ceremony at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 162, which was passed by  the 83rd Texas Legislature to address employment challenges facing military service members, recently separated  veterans and their spouses.

 The bipartisan legislation requires state agencies that issue occupational licenses to recognize substantially equivalent  licenses issued by other jurisdictions – including the armed forces – and provide an expedited licensure process for  these individuals.

 “The unemployment rate among veterans is one of the highest in the United States,” said state Rep. Dan Flynn of Van  (HD-2), who sponsored the bill in the Texas House. “Considering the sacrifices they made for our country, it is imperative  we help their transition to civilian life by giving them credit for the hard work and training they have accomplished in the  military.”

 Flynn, a U.S. Army veteran who also serves as a commander in the Texas State Guard’s Maritime Regiment, worked with  state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio (SD-26), who chairs the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military  Installations, to develop the legislation.

 “After our heroes fight for us, they should not then have to fight for a job when they get back home,” Van de Putte said.

 Until now, military training was not recognized by the state of Texas, for licensure purposes.

 “Too often, service members and their spouses must wait too long for licensing in fields in which they already have substantial experience,” Van de Putte said. “This law will put them on the fast-track for an occupational license, but also will require them to come into full compliance with Texas’ licensing requirements within a year.”

Additionally, SB 162 is also known as the “Chris Kyle Bill,” named after the former Navy SEAL and author who was slain earlier this year, and recognizes the achievements of service members with special operations training. Kyle’s wife, Taya, was on-hand at the signing ceremony.

“I appreciate the sacrifices these many brave special operators have made,” Flynn said, “and I hope that by incorporating these changes into current Texas law we can honor the legacy of Chris Kyle and the many like him.”

The legislation grants these veterans credit toward the issuance of a basic police officer’s license. Additional training and a certification test is still required to receive the license.

“If a soldier can dodge IEDs in Iraq or Afghanistan while driving a semi, they can drive safely on I-35 or I-30 without having to be trained again,” Flynn said.

It’s possible that this type of legislation will now be pursued throughout the country, as Van de Putte and Flynn co-chair the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs.

“We hope this legislation will serve as a model for all states,” Flynn said, “and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Defense to find new and better ways to show our appreciation to veterans as the return home.”

SGT John Gately instructing a class at Camp Mabry

Posted on: 24-Aug-2013

SGT John Gately instructing a class at Camp Mabry during August drill, on how administrate the new TXSG website. Units will be working to establish new websites for their components and units and more information will be available soon.

Photo of SGT Gately presenting the new websitePhoto of class

Texas Military Forces preserving ancient Texas history

Charles Coleman of the Thlopthlocco Tribe recognizes the partnership between his Tribe and the Texas Military Forces by presenting a traditional wooden flute to Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas.
Charles Coleman of the Thlopthlocco Tribe recognizes the partnership between his Tribe and the Texas Military Forces by presenting a traditional wooden flute to Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas. The flute was made by members of the Thlopthlocco tribe as one of the ways to preserve their heritage. The Texas Military Forces works with 11 different Tribal Nations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in a joint effort to preserve tribal heritage and the history of Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Army Capt. Martha C. Nigrelle/Released)

 Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Members of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) and representatives from five different Tribal  Nations living in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma gathered here, in Austin, on Aug. 19, 2013, with one  stated goal in mind – to protect their shared history.

 Eight thousand years ago, long before any one nation’s flag flew over this state, people lived here, on the land that is  now known as Texas. Surrounded by the bluebonnets, rivers, hills and plains of Texas, people built homes, cooked  meals and raised families. Today, their story remains buried throughout the Lone Star State.

 In the 1990’s, TXMF began consulting with Tribal representatives in order to identify artifacts and locations of  significance. Since its conception, the exchange process has focused on addressing a variety of issues ranging from  the protection of sensitive archaeological sites, which allow access and preservation of traditional natural resources for  tribal use, to the identification and return of objects the tribes hold sacred.

 “This is our opportunity to meet with different Tribal Nations and help preserve their history,” said Maj. Gen. John F.  Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas and Commanding General of the Texas Military Forces.

 Today, representatives from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, Caddo Tribe, Comanche Nation, Coushatta Tribe of  Louisiana, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Kiowa Tribe, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Tonkawa  Tribe, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma regularly meet with TXMF officials to discuss  efforts being made to preserve both their heritage and ancient Texas history.

 In 2005, according to TXMF Cultural Resource Program records, a 2,000 year-old ceramic pot was unearthed on TXMF  property. After visiting with tribal leaders, it was discovered that the artifact held sacred significance to the Caddo Nation  and was returned to the tribe.

 Currently, TXMF has more than 700 protected archeological sites and has collected tens of thousands of artifacts that  help depict life as it was, in Texas, thousands of years ago, said Kristen Mt Joy, Cultural Resource Program Manager for  TXMF and a registered professional archeologist.

 “The beautiful thing about our program is that [TXMF] is trying to acknowledge [the Tribal Nations’] role in the history of  our state,” Mt Joy said. “It isn’t just a ‘check the box’ thing; [TXMF] really wants to hear what the Tribes have to say.”

The consultation process has resulted in more than artifact identification. As the partnership grows, more is learned about the history of the tribes and about the people who once inhabited Texas. Areas that are of cultural significance are labeled traditional cultural property, and special care is taken to preserve the area in its natural state. For example, an area traditionally used to gather plants for medicines – this area TXMF will try to protect, to ensure that the same plant life can continue to grow. 

In an attempt to protect these lands, both TXMF and their Tribal Nation partners understand that the focus does not stray from the installations’ primary mission of training service members.

“[The Tribes] take great pride in the military,” Mt Joy said. “They understand that we have a mission to train Soldiers and prepare them for service.”

This annual consultation is “an opportunity to share and exchange information on improving preservation,” said Mt Joy. This consultation process has created a partnership between TXMF and each Tribal Nation.

During the meeting, Charles Coleman, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, presented Nichols with a traditional flute and thanked him for his commitment to partnering with the Tribal Nations. According to Coleman, the flute was handmade, out of bamboo, by members of the Thlopthlocco tribe and is a replica of flutes played by their tribe many years ago. 

As the meeting came to an end, a shared theme remained. Members of each tribe shared with the group what they are doing to record their history for future generations.

“It is our duty to preserve history,” Nichols said, reiterating a TXMF commitment to continue its work alongside the tribes.

The Texas State Guard was fortunate to have Chief Lankford on duty

14-Aug-2013

The Texas State Guard was fortunate to have Chief Lankford on duty in Del Rio while the Del Rio Sector was hosting a member of Texas United States Senator Ted Cruz’s staff. Command Master Sergeant Paul Lankford in coordination with Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Assistant Chief Spielman, made a presentation to Melissa L. Miller, Constituent Services Liaison for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, on the mission of Operation Border Star at the Del Rio JOIC and the incorporation of Texas State Guard troops in that mission.  Ms. Miller had been visiting the Del Rio Sector Headquarters operations that day, and at the end of the day was hosted for a presentation in the Border Intelligence Center (BIC) and the Joint Operations Intelligence Center (JOIC).  This was her first experience with Texas State Guard troops and she was very impressed with the mission. 

ACC Supported the 19th Annual Austin Maccabi Games

Photo of Event 1The Air Component Command supported the 19th Annual Austin Maccabi Games. Our 32 participating Airmen provided administrative support at both the Combined Transportation Emergency and Communications Center and the Dell Jewish Community Center Emergency Operations Center. 

They also supported law enforcement officers at several venues and helped to control access to venues to safeguard the citizens of Texas and our visiting guests.

Photo of event 2

Other Maccabi Games facts:

1,300 teens from delegations across the US, Israel, and several other international communities
1,000 Austin volunteers
500 visiting coaches and spectators
200 local Austin teens
Read more about the Maccabi Games here:
(http://www.maccabiusa.com/photos/19th-maccabiah-games/) are a week long international Olympic competition of Jewish youth athletes from around the world.

Texas Army National Guardsmen help mentor Guatemalan Task Force

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, commander 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, presents National Army of Guatemala Brig. Gen. Antonio Lopez, commander of the Interagency Task Force Tecun Uman, with a plaque for his unit's successful training.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, commander 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, presents National Army of Guatemala Brig. Gen. Antonio Lopez, commander of the Interagency Task Force Tecun Uman, with a plaque for his unit's successful training. Texas Army National Guardsmen teamed up with U.S. Border Patrol agents to mentor the newly-formed Guatemalan task force, whose mission is to interdict the flow of illicit activities on the Guatemalan borders. (U.S. Army photo by Miguel A. Negron/Released)

 

 GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Texas Army National Guardsmen from the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment and  members of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Border Tactical (BORTAC) team, teamed up to mentor Soldiers from  the National Army of Guatemala and Guatemalan Federal Police Force officers from Interagency Task Force (IATF) Tecun Uman, at the Guatemala Military Academy, from January - June, 2013. The newly formed Guatemalan Task Force  has the mission of interdicting the flow of illicit activities on the Guatemalan borders.

 The six-month exchange between the U.S. and Guatemala is part of an initiative led by U.S. Army South to build partner  nation capacity with the Central American country and consisted of a series of exercises and events including  fundamentals of marksmanship, weapons maintenance, sand table preparations, mounted and dismounted  operations, and gunnery skills. 

 The Guatemalan soldiers and police officers, handpicked for this mission, demonstrated a high degree of motivation  and esprit-de-corps. They readily embraced the training, asked questions, and were very willing students, according to  U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, Commander, 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry, who was highly impressed with the  proficiency, morale and professionalism of the Guatemalan troops. 

 “They deliver high quality orders briefs in a format very similar to the U.S. Army, and conduct rehearsals and back briefs  very similar to what is taught at the U.S. Army Ranger School,” Flood said. “The Guatemalan Soldiers are a dedicated  and professional force, and a credit to the Guatemalan Army.”

 Guatemalans and Texas Guardsmen not only trained together, but also lived in the same barracks, exposing them to  each other’s military culture. 

 U.S. Army Capt. Derek Ruschhaupt, Commander of Headquarters Troop, noted different leadership styles between the two militaries.
“It was interesting to see the roles Guatemalan Army platoon leaders assume versus ours,” Ruschhaupt said. “For instance, they march their troops to chow, do on the spot corrections, and provide all the direction and command and control down to the squad level; different from our system where noncommissioned officers perform those duties.” 

For U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Chavelo Jimenez, Squadron Command Sgt. Maj., training with the Guatemalan Soldiers and police officers brought back memories from when he first enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in the early 1980’s. Then, he trained with vehicles and weapons systems similar to the current Guatemalan Jeep-mounted .30 caliber machine gun.

“I remember seeing Jeeps at Fort Hood, so it was great to see these again,” Jimenez said. “However, these Jeeps are much nicer, with air conditioning, nice seats and up-armored. Much better than what we had.” 

The exercise culminated in a week-long series of scenario-based missions challenging the Guatemalan Soldiers and police officers with events such as simulated civil disturbances, narcotics lab raids, and vehicle checkpoint operations. At the beginning of each task, the commanders were given an order. From there they had to develop a plan, brief it, conduct rehearsals, and execute the mission. 

Texas Army Guardsmen observed the entire event and then conducted after-action review with the Guatemalans offering feedback to help refine tactics and techniques for their future missions.

At the conclusion, a ceremony was held to recognize all the participants. Among the invitees were U.S. Army Col. Michael Knutson, U.S. Embassy to Guatemala Senior Defense Official, and National Army of Guatemala Brig. Gen. Antonio Lopez, Commander of the IATF. Lopez later thanked the Texas Army National Guardsmen for their participation in the event.

“We are happy to have trained with our friends from Texas and appreciate their professional work ethic and dedication,” Lopez said. “They are excellent soldiers.”