Agricultural development team trains for deployment

 Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh
 
 Posted: March 28, 2012
 

Sgt. Josiah Pugh Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Instructors from the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture of Texas A&M University trained 12 soldiers from the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Six to better prepare them for their upcoming deployment to the Ghazni province of Afghanistan later this year.

The team is comprised of troops specializing in agricultural fields such as animal, soil, irrigation and crop sciences. During the weeklong training, the Borlaug Institute instructors taught the soldiers how to manage future agricultural projects that will benefit the Afghan people. 

“You have an agricultural society that lives off of subsistence agriculture,” said Lt. Col. Jet Hays, commander of the Agribusiness Development Team Six.

Hays explained that at one time, the Afghan people had very complicated irrigation systems that were well engineered and had existed for thousands of years. They also had a very sophisticated way to move agricultural goods around. But with the Russian invasion in 1979, many of the farmers ended up in refugee camps in Pakistan. By the time the war was over, much of the knowledge about advanced agricultural practices was lost. 

“Basically you had a generation that forgot their techniques for storing food and farming methods,” said Hays. “We’ll be trying to help them regain some of that knowledge.”

“One of our projects we will be teaching them is how to preserve their food,” said Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright, an agriculture specialist with the team. “They currently sell 90 percent of their production to Pakistan and then rebuy it a couple of months later because they don’t remember how to can their goods.” 

With the help of the Borlaug Institute instructors, the team will be able to successfully accomplish their mission of improving the agricultural prosperity of the Ghazni province. But, the benefit of working together extends in both directions.

“They have be so wonderful and they are so diligent,” said Piya Abeygunawardena, Associate Director at the Borlaug Institute. “It has been one of the most pleasant and exciting experiences for me.”

“We have several individuals flown here just to talk with us,” said Bright. “The experience is amazing.”

Agribusiness Development Team Six is scheduled to depart this summer.

Reaching out and strengthening ties

Maj. Gen. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the military Officers association of America.
On Friday, March 16, 2012, Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, in Killeen, about the role of the Texas Military Forces in both federal and state missions. During the presentation, Nichols explained how members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard come together to serve the citizens of Texas through search and rescue missions, evacuation support and shelter management.

 Reaching out and strengthening ties

 Story by Laura Lopez 
 
 KILLEEN, Texas – Just an hour north of Austin, members of the Killeen Heights Rotary Club and the Central Texas  Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America received a special visit from Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen.  John F. Nichols on March 16, 2012.
 
 Nichols illustrated the role of the Texas Military Forces in both state and federal missions, and explained how the Texas  Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard operate as a joint force. From performing  search and rescue missions, evacuation and re-entry support and providing shelter and mass care management, one  message was prevalent.
 
 “We are citizen-soldiers from all over the state of Texas here to help our citizens in times of need or disasters,” said  Nichols. “When you get out there and help them get off their roof, get them out of the water; there is no greater feeling  than helping our citizens.” 
 
 With the wildfires in Bastrop and other counties throughout the state, more recent examples of circumstances in which  the Texas Military Forces was called in for support, Nichols emphasized that the organization is simply a small piece of  the puzzle providing assistance in conjunction with other interagency partners. While our aviators dropped more than  two million gallons of water out of helicopters in treacherous conditions, our role was secondary to that of the Texas  Parks and Wildlife organization.
 
 “During the Bastrop fires we had 600 firefighters from around the nation at Camp Swift, with members from our forces  helping to coordinate shelter” said Nichols.
 Jim Bondi, president elect for the Killeen Heights Rotary Club stated that, “This presentation reminds us all of the  contributions the National Guard provides the state, and us close to Fort Hood, and also shows how organizations  partner together and the importance of the citizens of Texas.” 
 Although the mission of the Texas Military Forces is to provide the governor and the president with ready and fully  trained forces, Nichols’ goal is to also build and strengthen relationships not only with the residents of Killeen and Fort Hood, but the communities across the state.

TXSG Flies High with Austin Kite Festival

TXSG Flies High With Austin Kite Festival
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
2012/03/05
Provides support for 30,000 people attending annual event

AUSTIN, Texas -- As kite-lovers descended on Zilker Park, they were first greeted by soldiers from the Texas State Guard’s Army Component.

“We’re proud to support this historic community event,” said Warrant Officer Darrell Prather, who oversaw the TXSG on-site participation. “Our soldiers were honored to help people enjoy the festival and be part of this great tradition.”

Established in the late 1920s, Austin’s kite festival is the oldest in the nation with 30,000 attendees participating in the annual event. The festival is organized by the Austin Exchange Club. TXSG soldiers assisting in the event are from the 2nd Regiment, part of the TXSG’s Army Component based in central Texas.

“We were struggling to put the logistics together this year. When the state guard heard about our situation, they stepped forward to help,” said festival organizer Dorcy Twidwell. “We’ve been incredibly glad they did. We really appreciate these men and women giving up their weekend to help everyone here be safe and have fun.”

The TXSG provided logistical support for the event. Most visibly, soldiers are assisting attendees with event parking and on-site transportation, while also providing organizers and other participating entities with communications support.

Prather said assisting the festival organizers and participants gives TXSG soldiers real-world training for the kind of logistical support the organization provides during natural disasters and other emergencies.

“This gives us the opportunity to put our training and expertise into practical use in advance of our response to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or fires anywhere in Texas when ordered by the governor,” he said. “But most importantly, it’s another way for the men and women of the Texas State Guard to serve our fellow Texans.”

Texas State Guard Participates in 2012 Oral Rabies Vaccination Program

Texas State Guard Participates in 2012 Oral Rabies Vaccination Program
Laura Lopez, Texas Military Forces Public Affairs
2012/02/08

Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas, receives a briefing from 2nd Lt. Steve Walker of the Texas State Guard 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment at the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program command post in Zapata, Texas on January 6, 2012. A cooperative effort between the Texas Department of State Health Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Texas National Guard and other local, state and federal agencies in an effort to eradicate and prevent reintroduction of the rabies virus, goals for 2012 include dropping more than 450,000 baits in South Texas during the 16 day mission. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas, receives a briefing from 2nd Lt. Steve Walker of the Texas State Guard 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment at the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program command post in Zapata, Texas on January 6, 2012. A cooperative effort between the Texas Department of State Health Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Texas National Guard and other local, state and federal agencies in an effort to eradicate and prevent reintroduction of the rabies virus, goals for 2012 include dropping more than 450,000 baits in South Texas during the 16 day mission. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).

ZAPATA, Texas – Members of the Texas State Guard joined forces with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as other local, state and federal agencies from January 3, 2012 to January 18, 2012 to participate in the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.

With 1.8 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine expected to be dropped over portions of South and West Texas, Texas State Guard Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment provided both ground and air crew support that included navigational assistance, the operating and management of the bait drop and the loading of the baits onto the aircraft. A program the Texas State Guard has actively taken part in since 2007, this is one of the many humanitarian missions they are proud to be a part of.

“The 2012 ORVP mission will be an experience I will not soon forget,” said Incident Commander Second Lieutenant

Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, unloads a bag of bait to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez)
Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, unloads a bag of bait to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez)

Stephen Walker, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment. “I was honored to work alongside fellow members of the TXSG, members of federal and state agencies and to serve the citizens of Texas. Such a mission truly gives the TXSG members a feeling of giving back to his or her community for such a worthwhile cause.”

On January 6, 2012, Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment takes part in one of the many flights that assists in the aerial distribution of Raboral V RG, during a 16 day Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With statistics showing a drastic reduction in rabies cases the goal of this program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics stopping the spread of the virus. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
Originally initiated in 1995, with the goal of creating zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics, statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show animal cases of the canine strain of rabies in southern Texas fell from 122 in 1994 to zero in 2000 with single cases in 2001 and 2004. In addition the fox strain, prevalent in western Texas, dropped from 244 animal cases in 1995 to zero in 2010 and 2011.

A mission Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas describes as important to the state of Texas, its citizens and to the Texas economy he and other representatives from the Texas Military Forces and Department of State Health Services visited the command post in Zapata, Texas on January 6, 2012 for a first-hand look.

This is another example of how we can effectively work together with our partnering agencies and benefit our citizens at a time when no disaster is present,” said Smith.

While the vaccine dose dropped is enclosed in a small packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fish meal crumbles, health services representatives say the baits do not pose any risk to humans and will not become established in the environment making the Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program an exceptionally safe method of controlling rabies.

Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, holds a dose of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, about to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. A cooperative effort between the Texas Department of State Health Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Texas National Guard and other local, state and federal agencies in an effort to eradicate and prevent reintroduction of the rabies virus, goals for 2012 include dropping more than 450,000 baits in South Texas during the 16 day mission. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez)
Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, holds a dose of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, about to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. A cooperative effort between the Texas Department of State Health Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Texas National Guard and other local, state and federal agencies in an effort to eradicate and prevent reintroduction of the rabies virus, goals for 2012 include dropping more than 450,000 baits in South Texas during the 16 day mission. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez)
On January 6, 2012, Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment takes part in one of the many flights that assists in the aerial distribution of Raboral V RG, during a 16 day Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With statistics showing a drastic reduction in rabies cases the goal of this program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics stopping the spread of the virus. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
On January 6, 2012, Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment takes part in one of the many flights that assists in the aerial distribution of Raboral V RG, during a 16 day Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With statistics showing a drastic reduction in rabies cases the goal of this program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics stopping the spread of the virus. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).

 

On January 6, 2012, Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
On January 6, 2012, Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
On January 6, 2012, Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Pettit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment takes part in one of the many flights that assists in the aerial distribution of Raboral V RG, during a 16 day Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With statistics showing a drastic reduction in rabies cases the goal of this program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics stopping the spread of the virus. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).
On January 6, 2012, Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Pettit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment takes part in one of the many flights that assists in the aerial distribution of Raboral V RG, during a 16 day Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With statistics showing a drastic reduction in rabies cases the goal of this program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics stopping the spread of the virus. (U.S. Army photo by Laura L. Lopez).

Texas State Guard Participates in 2012 Oral Rabies Vaccination Program 2-2

Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, director Joint Staff and commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas.
On Jan. 6, 2012, Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, director Joint Staff and commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas. Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas.

 

 Story by Laura Lopez
 
 ZAPATA, Texas – Members of the Texas State Guard joined forces with the Texas Department of State Health Services,  the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as other local, state and federal agencies, Jan. 3-18, to participate in  the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.
 
 With 1.8 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine expected to be dropped over portions of South and West Texas, Texas  State Guard soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment provided both ground and air crew support that included navigational assistance, the operating and management of the bait drop and the loading of the baits onto the aircraft. A  program the Texas State Guard has actively taken part in since 2007, this is one of the many humanitarian missions they  are proud to be a part of.
 
 “The 2012 ORVP mission will be an experience I will not soon forget,” said Incident Commander 2nd Lt. Stephen Walker,  3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment. “I was honored to work alongside fellow members of the TXSG, members of federal and state  agencies and to serve the citizens of Texas. Such a mission truly gives the TXSG members a feeling of giving back to his  or her community for such a worthwhile cause.”
 
 Originally initiated in 1995, with the goal of creating zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges  of the epizootics, statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show animal cases of the canine strain  of rabies in southern Texas fell from 122 in 1994 to zero in 2000 with single cases in 2001 and 2004. In addition the fox  strain, prevalent in western Texas, dropped from 244 animal cases in 1995 to zero in 2010 and 2011.
 A mission Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas describes as important to the state of Texas, its citizens and to the Texas economy he and other representatives from the Texas Military Forces and Department of State Health Services visited the command post in Zapata, Texas, Jan. 6, for a first-hand look.
 
“This is another example of how we can effectively work together with our partnering agencies and benefit our citizens at a time when no disaster is present,” said Smith.
While the vaccine dose dropped is enclosed in a small packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fish meal crumbles, health services representatives say the baits do not pose any risk to humans and will not become established in the environment making the Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program an exceptionally safe method of controlling rabies.