Sgt. Maj. Elwood H. Imken-A Life Well Lived

Story by: Brandon Jones
Texas Military Department Public Affairs

Sgt. Maj. Imken Photo

AUSTIN, Texas- Once in a while, you’ll cross paths with someone who will make you smile, laugh, and push you to the best of your abilities. It is almost impossible to forget someone like that.  If you ask family and friends of retired Sgt. Maj. Elwood H. Imken he fits the description in every way.  Imken passed away last year, but, his story is one people will tell for generations. To commemorate his service, the Texas Military Department will honor him again during a special dedication ceremony.

Growing up in Pflugerville and attending college at Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University), Imken is a homegrown Texan. In March 1967, he boldly stood up for God and country and joined the Texas Army National Guard.

Imken's five decades-long service to the military would take him to places some Soldiers could only dream of. His career reached every echelon from platoon to division and every level of leadership, culminating as the Division Operations Sergeant Major for the 49th Armored Division and the 36th Infantry Division. From directing the mobilization of Texas Soldiers in state active duty missions to overseeing all four division warfighter exercises, Imken's work showed a love for his job. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bob Marshall knows a thing or two about Imken's service.  They met in 1980 when Imken was with the 124th Cavalry Regiment. The two remained friends until Imken's death. "E.H. had a way of looking out for people regardless of your command level. It really made you humble yourself and get the job done," said Marshall. " He was also one heck of a hunter and fisher. I'm going to miss that tenacity he had."

Community outreach was another important value for Imken. He worked for outreach missions like Operation Blue Santa and Food for Families. Imken said he learned early in his career that planning and program management were important for taking care of Soldiers. His efforts didn't go unnoticed especially from the organization he signed up to serve with so many years ago. 

On May 14, 2016, The Texas Military Department inducted Imken into its Hall of Honor. The Hall of Honor, which was established in 1980, recognizes outstanding service and leadership of individuals serving as members of the Texas Military Department in a state or federal status. A room in the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, displays portraits and histories of military members inducted into the Hall of Honor.  His desire to serve others and give back on a much larger scale, characterized his career. It was this induction that allowed the organization to give back to him.

One Soldier who knows Imken's compassion for the men and women in uniform is retired Texas Army National Guard Col. Guy Schultz.  Col. Schultz is a close friend of Imken and coordinator with the Military Funeral Honors Team so he is happy to see his friend get this kind of recognition. "His work and life will have an impact for generations to come,” said Schultz. “However, when he took the time to know you, it was easy to recognize him as a great mentor who always strived for the best.”

Now three years after his Hall of Honor induction, the honors for Imken, and his legacy, continue even after his death. On July 12, 2019, the Texas Military Department will rename its Joint Operations Center as the Sergeant Major E.H. Imken Joint Force Headquarters-Texas Joint Operations Center. Imken was instrumental in the creation of the Joint Operations Center by using his extensive network to aid in disaster response efforts.  The Adjutant General of Texas, Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, will speak at the dedication ceremony for her dear friend.
“I imagine that a few things surprised him, and it’s appropriate that we rename our JOC in honor of him,” said Norris.

Imken's family and friends will tell you his life of service shaped the Texas Military Department to always be ready to serve.  The recent JOC dedication is one more to note that ‘E.H. Imken had a life that was well lived! If you are visiting Austin and have the chance to stop by our museum to view the Hall of Honor, please do so. We are proud of our rich heritage at the Texas Military Department and honored to remember one of our own who crossed our path and lit the way for future generations. We also want to remember and honor all those who have had a lasting impact on us and who shaped who we are as “Texans Serving Texas.”
 

Healthy Coping

“Coping refers to the human behavioral process for dealing with demands,both internal or external, in situations that are perceived as threats.”

Sometimes we need to cope with things that happen to us, and other times we must cope with things that happen within us. Some events may require us to deal with both internal and external demands. In moments like these, it’s important to have techniques that help you to re-center and move toward a state of calm. 

What does healthy coping look like?

Healthy coping strategies accelerate a return to calm. Building personal go-to coping techniques that are effective for you will help you to create a foundation of mental fitness. Like just about all things related to the psyche, coping skills sound simple — and they are. But just because they’re simple does not mean that they’re easy. 

The following three steps may help you develop your personal coping techniques: 

1. Establish strategies that are effective for you. Identify how you best cope and practice strategies for calm when you’re in an average state of mind.
2. Recognize that coping strategies are not one-size-fits-all. Mental fitness, just like physical fitness, requires a personalized approach. Try different coping strategies, examine the possibilities, eliminate those that are not effective for you, and give those strategies that have potential a genuine try.
3. When you find a strategy that works, practice it regularly. The goal here is for healthy coping to become your first inclination when chaos rears its head.

The Mental Health Wellness Week website describes the following as healthy coping skills:
•    Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques;
•    Having time to yourself;
•    Engaging in physical activity or exercise; 
•    Reading;
•    Spending time with friends;
•    Finding humor;
•    Spending time on your hobbies;
•    Engaging in spirituality;
•    Spending quality time with your pets;
•    Getting a good night’s sleep;
•    Eating healthy.


There are nearly infinite ways to cope with situations that you may be experiencing, it’s simply a matter of finding which ones work for you, and in which situations they are most effective.
 
Cynthia M. Reyes, MA, LPC
Counselor
Texas Military Department Counseling Program
Counseling Line 512-782-5069

136 SF gains operational experience at Ramstein

Story by: Senior Airman Bryan Swink

Posted: 06-20-2019

Photo By Senior Airman Bryan Swink | Tech. Sgt. Ashley Davin, 136th Security Forces Squadron defender, conducts a random vehicle search on Ramstein Air Base, Germany just before midnight June, 18, 2019. Davin and 33 other Airmen from the Texas Air National Guard are embedded with the local security forces units and German polizei to gain first-hand experience performing security forces duties while on an active duty installation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Swink)
Photo By Senior Airman Bryan Swink | Tech. Sgt. Ashley Davin, 136th Security Forces Squadron defender, conducts a random vehicle search on Ramstein Air Base, Germany just before midnight June 18, 2019. Davin and 33 other Airmen from the Texas Air National Guard are embedded with the local security forces units and German Polizei to gain first-hand experience performing security forces duties while on an active-duty installation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bryan Swink) 

Training is the focus for 34 Airmen from the 136th Security Forces Squadron who embedded with the local security forces units at Ramstein Air Base, Germany June 15, 2019.

The Texas Air National Guard Airmen will be in-country working hand-in-hand with their active-duty counterparts and local German polizei gaining real-world experience at one of the largest and busiest U.S. Air Force installations in the world.

“This is an incredible opportunity we have for the Airmen to get a chance to put into practice many aspects of our career field we aren’t able to do on a constant basis while at home station,” said Senior Master Sgt. Craig Alonzo, 136 SFS operations superintendent. “There is only so much we can do at (Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth) since it is a Navy-led installation. This gives our Airmen an opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the host nation and active-duty Air Force to put their training into practice.”

Security Forces personnel are the Air Force's first line of defense and it is their job to maintain the rule of law on all Air Force bases and installations, according to af.mil.

The Guardsmen will be conducting various duties within the security forces career field, such as working sentry at installation gates, performing patrols and perimeter checks around the installation and conducting law enforcement practices around the base and local community.

Operating in a real-world environment is a first for many of the security forces Airmen who have only been in the career field for a short time.

“We occasionally assist with the Navy at our gate at (NAS JRB Fort Worth), but I’ve done that twice in the three years I’ve been with the unit,” said Senior Airman Preston Tipton, 136 SFS defender. “This is first time I’ve actually put my training and knowledge to the test in a true operational environment.”

The group is divided between two security forces units, the 86 SFS which services RAB and the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron which services the military housing community at Vogelweh Military Complex. Each Airmen is assigned to one of three eight-hour shifts at his or her specific location.

RAB serves as headquarters for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and is also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization installation. It’s in the German state of Rheinland-Palatinate and is part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community. In total, the KMC is comprised of 13,000 military members, 9,000 Department of Defense civilians, and their more than 25,000 family members. The KMC also employs more than 6,000 host nationals. When combined with military retirees and their dependents, the KMC has a population of more than 54,000 American citizens, making it the largest concentration of Americans outside the United States.

36th Infantry Division completes Warfighter

Story by: Staff Sgt. Michael Giles

Posted: 06-19-2019

Photo By Staff Sgt. Michael Giles | Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the 36th Infantry Division, works with division Soldiers to load gear into a vehicle during Warfighter 19-05 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, June 8, 2019. The 36th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company travelled to Fort Indiantown Gap in May, 2019, to participate in Warfighter 19-05, an simulation designed to test command staff in decision-making and communication. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles)
Photo By Staff Sgt. Michael Giles | Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the 36th Infantry Division, works with division Soldiers to load gear into a vehicle during Warfighter 19-05 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, June 8, 2019. The 36th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company traveled to Fort Indiantown Gap in May 2019, to participate in Warfighter 19-05, a simulation designed to test command staff in decision-making and communication. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles)

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.— The Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division completed a large-scale command training exercise on June 12, 2019.

The division’s command staff, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, as well as units from five other states, Army Reserve and active U.S. Army completed Warfighter 19-5, a scenario-based exercise designed to test battlefield decision-making and communication. 

“Warfighter is a computer simulation,” said Col. Edward Dextraze, the division’s senior liaison officer. “It’s a training exercise used to assess a division’s ability to execute their wartime mission in a full-spectrum operation.”

According to Dextraze, Warfighter exercises provide awareness about how ready a unit is to handle the complexity of large-scale combat operations. Warfighter reflects an actual deployment, including the challenges that arise when various sections synthesize their efforts. 

“If you don’t take advantage of that compressed stress situation, when you have to do it for real for a mobilization, you’ve kind of cheated yourself,” Dextraze said. 

The virtual battleground for Warfighter 19-5 was a full-scale combat exercise, a change from previous scenarios. In this scenario, United States allies requested support after being attacked by rockets, chemical agents and an invading ground force. The 36th Infantry Division deployed its forces taking the fight to the enemy. Utilizing the military decision making process, leaders made tactical choices to cross rivers, overcome geological and other modern obstacles.

Col. Oliver Mintz, the 36th Infantry Division’s chief of staff, explained that Warfighter is an unparalleled opportunity for a unit to sharpen its skills and test their fighting readiness. 

“You will unequivocally come out of Warfighter better than when you went in,” Mintz said. “There’s quite simply no better training event for Army staff than Warfighter. I’ve done a number of them in my career and every single time, you learn a lot.” 

Staff Sgt. Neethu Cherian, a protection staff noncommissioned officer with the 36th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, said Warfighter 19-5 was an opportunity to build on previous skills obtained while attending the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer course.

“You get to understand and visualize how the different Warfighter functions integrate with each other to get the job done,” Cherian said.

Cherian related a new experience she had during the exercise, when a senior leader asked her how she thought a course of action would impact the fight. Though she believed she knew the correct answer, she still experienced a moment of doubt because prior to that moment, it was an experience she had never had. 

“Doctrinally, if we are assuming they’re going to use a non-persistent chemical agent, then the forces should move in now, towards the objective, while the weather is at our advantage,” she responded. 

Later, she sighed a breath of relief as she double-checked the doctrinal answer. She had gotten the answer right. And now she feels more confident than ever in her role. 

“Getting tested like this builds my confidence because it confirms that my knowledge held up when it all comes together,” Cherian said.

Mintz explained that learning from failure is a significant part of Warfighter.

“This is not about turning in an A-plus answer on day one,” Mintz said. “You’re going to show up. You’re going to get it wrong. You’re going to have to fix it.”

“The enemy’s going to punch you in the mouth and you’ve just got to keep getting up and getting after it,” Mintz said. “If they approach it with that attitude and are willing to learn from their mistakes every day, they’ll be on their way to a successful event.” 

Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, the 36th Infantry Division’s commanding general, said that although our performance during Warfighter was by no means perfect, they far exceeded expectations.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the progress we’ve made as a staff,” Hamilton said. “Our evaluators have told me that we’ve accomplished some things that other divisions haven’t been able to. That’s because of hard work and preparation.” 

Hamilton said the division’s success at Warfighter is worthy of its proud historical legacy.

“Commanding the 36th Infantry Division, because of its historic lineage in combat in World War I, in World War II, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have big shoes to fill,” Hamilton said. “The Soldiers of the 36th Infantry Division here are absolutely stepping up and are ready to conduct operations wherever our nation calls us to go.”

“I could not be more proud of the patriotic service, the competence, dedication and the effort of the Soldiers in this division,” Hamilton said.

Decision Making

By: BG Chaney, Deputy Adjutant General - Army

PhotoOne of the things I have learned as a strategic leader is that the horizon of your battlefield is continuously and exponentially expanding. The more you learn, the more you will realize you don’t know. In the face of this potentially overwhelming field of view, remember to start small. Take an honest look at yourself and pick a few things that you identify with as a leader and work hard to ensure that you do them well. This applies to all levels of leadership. No matter the size of your team, use these identified core values as a home base from which to tackle the multitude of scenarios you are faced with, either as leaders or as individuals. There will never be a perfectly right answer to a problem, only answers with varying levels of risk. During these times, the core values you brand yourself around will become an invaluable touch-stone to return to when faced with difficult decisions.

At times we are called upon to make quick decisions in uncomfortably public situations and we can put undue pressure on ourselves to make a perfect call quickly. It is comforting to remember that all decisions are based on shades of grey, and that we can only do the best we are able with what we are provided. One of the things I appreciate most about the TLDP program is that participants are taught valuable lessons on how to weigh and mitigate risks in decision making. It can be difficult to balance making clear-headed decisions for the good of the agency’s future, as well as for the well-being of each individual who serves in TMD. Part of our value of People First means treating others the way you would want to be treated. While top strategic leaders may be the ones making many of the decisions, it is important for all leaders to remember that the consequences of their decisions directly affect the daily lives of those who serve this organization, and thereby the lives of their families. While we are often called upon to make hard choices, the well-being of the Soldier and their family must always be at the fore-front of a leader’s mind. 

 

We are one team in one fight. Let’s remember to live out that message at all levels of service.

What it means to be a friend

Webster defines a friend as a person who has a strong liking for and trust in another, or a person who is not an enemy. There are a number of different types of friends in our lives; some we call and speak to every day and share all details with, some we met in school or college, friends that we only speak and hang out with at work, and for those of us in the military we have battle buddies who can eventually turn into family. 

When I served in the military I was a 12C, that’s a bridge-crew engineer, and our unit only had four females total. When we were finally deployed in 2009 we got attached to a CAV unit where once again, each unit only had four females. You could imagine that we took the term “battle buddies” to a whole new level. Being deployed with a bunch of men naturally brought us together, despite the number of fights we had, we always knew we would have each other’s back. Once we returned home, we all went our separate ways but somehow we managed to still keep in contact and check in with each other every once in a while. In 2014, we got word that one of our battle buddies had committed suicide. I know that each of our first thoughts were “What could I have done to prevent this?”, “Could I have been a better friend?” It’s no secret that suicide is high in the military, current numbers show that in 2018 we had a total of 321 active-duty members who took their lives, including 57 Marines, 68 Sailors, 58 Airmen, and 138 Soldiers. BEING A FRIEND IS IMPORTANT!

It took me a little over four years to realize that although I am allowed to be upset at the loss of our battle buddy and my friend, that truly there was nothing more that I could have done to save her, and to be honest, I sleep a lot better knowing that I was a good friend to her. So what does being a friend look like? Friendships can look, sound and feel different but for the most part all of them have some of the same characteristics. We want our friendships to include honesty, loyalty, respect, a place where we feel taken care of, where we can build trust, be heard but also listen, share, allowed to receive space but also give space and finally, where we can apologize and forgive. We have the choice of choosing the majority of our friends, and knowing whom to choose as a friend in our personal lives is extremely important. Some military folks we’re given friends who we then choose to continue building a friendship with outside of our military duties. 

If you’re reading this and analyzing some of your relationships thinking, “How can I be a better friend?” I have a few tips for you. First, make plans and make time for others. Call, text or FaceTime more often. EXPRESS GRATITUDE. Remember the little things, be adult enough to talk through arguments, do random acts of kindness, give honest and open advice, be reliable, keep some things private, try new things together, and finally, sometimes JUST LISTEN or PHYSICALLY BE THERE. 

Author: Yulanda Jackson
 

U.S. Army South motto comes to life during Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias

Story by: Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington

Posted: 5-16-2019

Photo By Spc. Miguel Ruiz | Dominican Republic organizations participate in realistic disaster-relief exercises during media day of Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias 2019 at Campamento Militar 16 De Agosto in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 14, 2019. Local media and representatives from Dominican Republic governmental and non-governmental agencies and local media gathered at the military camp to witness live disaster-response exercises and answer questions from the media. FA-HUM 19 is a U.S. Army South-sponsored foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise designed to build U.S. partner nation’s capacity for civil and military response to major disasters. More than 100 national experts from over 13 Latin American countries will operate jointly throughout FA-HUM 19 simulations and training events from May 6 - 17, 2019 in the Dominican Republic. (U.S. Army photo by Miguel Ruiz, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Photo By Spc. Miguel Ruiz | Dominican Republic organizations participate in realistic disaster-relief exercises during media day of Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias 2019 at Campamento Militar 16 De Agosto in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 14, 2019. Local media and representatives from Dominican Republic governmental and non-governmental agencies and local media gathered at the military camp to witness live disaster-response exercises and answer questions from the media. FA-HUM 19 is a U.S. Army South-sponsored foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise designed to build U.S. partner nation’s capacity for civil and military response to major disasters. More than 100 national experts from over 13 Latin American countries will operate jointly throughout FA-HUM 19 simulations and training events from May 6 - 17, 2019 in the Dominican Republic. (U.S. Army photo by Miguel Ruiz, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic.--- U.S. Army South’s motto, ¡Juntos Podemos! - Together We Can! is a fitting representation of its partnership with over 10 Latin American nations. You'll see their motto along with their Spanish galleon insignia on the ARSOUTH website, water bottles and stationary. But the motto represents far more than a few words on a coin. ¡Juntos Podemos! represents the valuable relationships ARSOUTH has established to bring stability and security to the Latin American region.

¡Juntos Podemos! is 100 experts from 13 Latin American countries working together for Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias in an annual ARSOUTH-sponsored foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise designed to build U.S. partner nation’s capacity for civil and military response to major disasters. 

¡Juntos Podemos! is over 20 national and international agencies collaborating during simulated natural disaster exercises to strengthen civil-military response and relief efforts in this year’s host nation, the Dominican Republic. 

"The meaning of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity is all about harnessing the power of one”, said Brig. Gen. Irene Zoppi, director for the Army Reserve engagement cell & Deputy Commanding General – Army Reserve for U.S. Army South.

¡Juntos Podemos! is the hundreds of residents from Los Contreras and other surrounding communities of Bajo Yuna participating in a flood evacuation simulation, going through the procedures of evacuating their homes to a shelter at Centro Educativo los Guaraguaos. 

¡Juntos Podemos! is preschool children from Escuela Republica de Chile crouching under their desks then evacuating their classrooms simultaneously with over 50 other businesses, schools and government agencies in Santo Domingo during an earthquake simulation.

"These types of exercise help us to visualize the evacuation plan. It helps the the general population”, said Carlos Richardson, physical fitness teacher and evacuation coordinator for Escuela Republica de Chile. “It helps the students and the community, as the students gain the knowledge that they can use at home."
¡Juntos Podemos! is the "Buen Día” we say to each other in the morning and the “cafe” we share together in the afternoon. It’s the continuous effort we make to build the trust and friendship with ARSOUTH partner nations. 

“We as a country are grateful,” said Brig. Gen. Juan Manuel Mendez Garcia, director of the Emergency Operations Center for the Dominican Republic. “My gratitude as a Dominican, as a service member and the gratitude that the President of the Republic feels, in respect to our allies, is that the people of North America and Army South, have always been at the forefront with us.”


 

Effective Communication

Communication is …....

    “The act or process of using words, sounds, behaviors, and signs to express or exchange information” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Communication is more than words, it also includes the following:

•    How you say it -  including voice tone
•    Why you say it – intention behind the message
•    When you say it – during an argument, the time of day
•    What you do not say – What you do not say can give a clearer picture of what is going on
•    Your body language – including facial expressions, gestures, and posture

Effective communication is not instinctive, we are not born knowing how to do it. Often we say one thing, and the other person hears something entirely different, causing misunderstandings, frustrations, and conflicts. When communication goes wrong, it can also cause problems in our home, work, and school relationships. For most of us, learning to communicate more effectively requires our gaining several important skills.  We can all learn effective communication.

Effective communication is more than the exchange of information. It is also understanding the emotion and intention behind the information. In addition to clearly conveying a message, we also have to LISTEN in order to gain the full meaning of what is being said, AND ensure that the other person FEELS heard and understood. Effective communication includes four (4) skills:

1.    Engaged listening- is LESS talking, MORE listening! While listening for understanding there should be an attempt to also understand the EMOTIONS the person is trying to convey. When we are really listening, we are engaged with what the person is saying - we will hear the subtle tone in their voice that tells us what they are feeling and will sense their emotion. Engaged listening will make the person feel HEARD and UNDERSTOOD, thereby building a stronger connection. So, you must focus on the person, avoid interrupting or redirecting the conversation, set aside judgment, and provide feedback by paraphrasing what was said.
2.    Non-verbal communication – or body language, includes facial expressions, body movement, gestures, eye contact, voice tone, muscle tension, and breathing. For example, uncrossed arms, an open stance - sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the person indicates engagement. It is important to keep cultural differences in mind, be careful of assumptions when a person lets go of eye contact, or briefly crosses their arms. Consider their signals as a whole for understanding. Improving non-verbal communication involves your words matching your body language, standing tall with shoulders back, smiling, maintaining eye contact, and when necessary giving a firm hand shake. You will feel confidant and the other person will be at ease.
3.    Managing stress- When you are calm, you are able to determine if the conversation requires a response, or if the other person's signals indicate that you should not respond. You can manage stress by giving yourself time to think, asking a question, making one point and providing an example, speaking clearly in an even tone, making eye contact, and having open body language. If the conversation gets heated, it is important to remain calm by recognizing when you are becoming stressed. Take a moment to calm down and breathe, bringing your senses into play through sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. You can take a deep breath, put a mint in your mouth, squeeze a stress ball, or clench and relax your tightening muscles. Humor is also a great way to relieve stress when used appropriately. Be willing to compromise by giving a little and if necessary agree to disagree.
4.    Respectfully asserting yourself means expressing and standing up for yourself while respecting others. It is NOT about being hostile, aggressive, or demanding. Remember, effective communication is always about UNDERSTANDING the other person, not about WINNING the disagreement, or FORCING your opinion on the other person! To improve assertiveness, value yourself, know your needs and wants, express negative thoughts in a positive way, receive feedback in a positive way, and learn to say NO by knowing your limits. Look for alternatives to ensure a positive outcome. Practice assertiveness in less risky situations to build your confidence. YOU CAN DO IT!


Written by
Cheryl A. Scott, LPC
TMD Counselor, Fort Worth, TX
512-391-9879


 

71st Troop Command Qualifies on Weapons

Story by: Spc Jason Archer

Posted: 4-27-2019

Members of 71st Troop Command, Texas Army National Guard qualified on three different weapons May 3, 2019 at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. Soldiers from the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 71st Theater Information Operations Group and 71st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, qualified on pistols, rifles and machineguns.

Weapons qualification is a requirement of all soldiers in the Army and Army National Guard. The 71st Troop Command uses the annual qualification to keep soldiers ready to answer the call for any mission, stateside or federal.

Sgt. Maj. Jason Morrow, operations sergeant major for the 71st Troop Command, places high importance on the readiness of all Troop Command Soldiers.

“Soldiers’ physical and mental fitness is the foundation for the readiness and lethality of our force,” Morrow said. “It is important for soldiers to be proficient in their advanced individual skills, but they also have to stay relevant by maintaining their soldiering skills.”

To prepare for the shooting range, the 71st used the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy, U.S. Army Training Circular 3-20.0. The publication is a step-by-step manual to prepare soldiers for the shooting range and ultimately make a ready and lethal force. Chapter 4 of the manual includes a six-step process leading up to the range.

Sgt. Matthew Wright, a public affairs specialist with the 100th MPAD, went through the entire process in the months leading up to the firing range. During the simulation portion of his training, his unit used a laser marksmanship training system.

“The laser pop-ups helped me raise my score significantly,” Wright said. “I was more prepared for the targets and controlled my weapon and breathing better.”

Wright qualified on the M-4 rifle and the M-249 machine gun. Going to the range is one of his favorite parts about being in the Texas Army National Guard.

“I really look forward to range day,” said Wright. “It is a break from my routine civilian job, and I get to fire expensive weapons for free. I find myself more excited to go to drill when I know I’m going to be shooting that weekend.”

Success on the range positively effects a soldier’s outlook on being a soldier. Good training is essential to achieve this success.

Soldiers from Troop Command were trained from Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction through the firing range with battle buddies in order to ensure their success.

Pfc. Gunnar Gransbury and Pfc. Clay Ayanna are paralegal assistants for the 71st TIOG’s HHC. Both were coaching each other while on the range. While they were shooting, the pair would help spot targets and check each other’s fundamentals.

“We are pretty new to the unit,” Gransbury said. “I thought it would be harder to qualify since it has been a while since I last shot, but I think I hit 34 out of 40 targets today.”

Morrow further explained the importance of following the training syllabus put out by the Regular Army.

“Any task in the National Guard has the added difficulty of time constraints,” Morrow said. “By following the doctrine and utilizing all the tools available to us, we can make sure our reserve-component soldiers are ready for weapon qualifications and fulfilling their missions.”

Texas National Guard and Chilean Partners Celebrate 10 years of Partnership

Story by Brandon Jones

Texas military leaders and Chilean military leaders pose for a photo at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 12, 2019. The Texas National Guard and Chilean armed forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the annual State Partnership Program Planning meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development.
Texas military leaders and Chilean military leaders pose for a photo at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 12, 2019. The Texas National Guard and Chilean armed forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the annual State Partnership Program Planning meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development.

AUSTIN, Texas- It is a well-known fact the National Guard’s core mission includes fighting America’s wars and securing the homeland, but perhaps a lesser-known mission is that of building enduring partnerships. 

From April 10-13, 2019, members of the Texas National Guard and Chilean Armed Forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the Annual State Partnership Program Planning Meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance, and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development. 

“Both our state and their nation have significant responsibilities with regards to disaster response, and experience is often one of the best teachers so what better way to support one another than helping to share and improve upon best practices,” said Maj. Mark White, State Partnership Program Director, Texas Military Department. “An experience our Soldiers and Airmen value, a great secondary benefit to SPP is the exchanging of our cultures and what makes Chile and Texas special places respectively. We create lifelong friendships through every event together.”

In addition to planning events for the fiscal year 2020, this trip included multiple activities commemorating the tenth anniversary of the partnership. On April 12, 2019, the Chilean delegation was presented with a proclamation from the Deputy Secretary of State of Texas, Jose A. Esparza, recognizing and honoring the important partnership between the Texas National Guard and the Republic of Chile. This same group was furthered honored on the House floor of the Texas Capitol prior to signing the formal agreement on the steps of the Texas Capitol. 

“Today’s events, in which representatives from Texas and Chile were standing side-by-side, exemplify the solidarity of our commitment to the program and one another,” said White. “In 2020 we will jointly execute over 40 SPP events in both of our countries as we start our second decade of partnership which strives to be the model for SPP in SOUTHCOM.”

In a Strategic Studies Quarterly article published in 2018 Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, stated SPP is future focused and adaptive to geopolitical changes. Lengyel says NGB has seen the program grow from assisting nations in developing more modern and professional militaries functioning under civilian control to partnerships that look to deepen interoperability with complementary capabilities and forces.

"Beyond the military benefits, we have witnessed the fruits of these relationships as they help the United States maintain and grow its alliances across the globe through enduring and personal relationships," said Lengyel. "What began as a program of 10 partnerships in Eastern Europe has spread across five continents and currently encompasses approximately one-third of the nations in the world."

As part of the program and in addition to Chile, the Texas and Nebraska National Guards share a partnership with the Czech Republic. In 2018, the Czech Armed Forces and its state partners commemorated the 25th anniversary of the union. Under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program there are currently 76 partnerships in place and support to 83 nations around the globe.