Commentary by: Col. Gregory P. Chaney
Chief of Staff, Office of the Adjutant General
CAMP MABRY, Texas – As we celebrate another year of American independence, we also reflect on the sacrifice of the early citizen-soldiers, who put down their plowshares and marched and fought alongside George Washington, and others, to begin the process of securing our founder’s ideals and promise of greater freedom for all.
Our heritage is directly tied to these early Americans. They laid the foundation of the modern National Guard. Our organization grew from the militias of the early colonies, their experiences during and after the Revolutionary War, and the desire of states to prevent an overreaching federal government.
The Militia Act of 1792 codified the traditional view of the militia, and the organization and control states had over their military forces. Later, the Militia Act of 1903, also known as the Dick Act (after U.S. Sen. Charles Dick of Ohio), restructured state militaries and allowed for greater opportunities for the federalization of state troops, with the consent of state governors. The Act provided federal funds to the National Guard to pay for equipment and training, including annual summer encampments.
The National Defense Act of 1916 established the National Guard of the United States, and gave the president expanded authority to federalize state National Guard forces. While federal responsibilities and funding have increased, one thing remained the same: state National Guards are organized by each state’s statute and are controlled by the governor, unless they are called into federal service with the National Guard of the United States or as a part of the U.S. Army or Air Force.
Each state’s militia is organized through the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, and many also have a separate state defense force.
In Texas, our military structure is organized by state law, currently within the Texas Government Code (Title 4. Executive Branch, Chapter 437. Texas Military). This statute organizes the Texas Military into the Texas Military Forces and the Texas Military Department.
The Adjutant General (TAG) of Texas serves the dual-role of commanding general of the Texas Military Forces and is the governing officer, policy maker, and head of the Texas Military Department. The Adjutant General is a state employee who is appointed by the governor of Texas – the state military’s commander-in-chief – and must be confirmed by the Texas Senate.
To assist TAG, the governor also appoints two deputy adjutants general (DAGs), one for Army matters and another for Air. Additionally, the governor appoints the commander of the Texas State Guard. These are all state officials, but the DAGs may also serve in dual-roles and assume federal responsibilities. For example, both DAGs also currently serve as the commander of their respective National Guard components.
The Texas Military Forces currently include the Texas Army and Air National Guard, which have federal duty when called upon by the president, as well as a state defense force, the volunteer Texas State Guard, which serves the state and cannot be called into federal service.
The administrative arm that supports the state’s resources and military forces is the Texas Military Department. This state agency is managed by an executive director who serves at the pleasure of TAG, and is a critical component of the Texas Military. Its dedicated civilians support our soldiers and airmen to help ensure they have many of the necessary tools to achieve mission success.
While we are a complex, state-federal organization, our unifying motto is “Texans Defending Texas” – that is the call and charge for all of our members and employees. While times may change, we continue to stand ready. We are proud of our legacy and heritage.
Much like our Guard predecessors who fought during the American struggle for independence, today’s citizen-soldiers and airmen live and work in our communities. But we remain prepared to defend our state and nation, when called: from the ravages of wildfires and hurricanes to the threat of foreign enemies abroad.
Col. Gregory P. Chaney of Merkel, Texas is an Army National Guard Engineer and became the Adjutant General’s Chief of Staff in August of 2013. His military career includes deployments to Bosnia-Herzegovina (SFOR 7) and Iraq (OIF III). Col. Chaney holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Abilene Christian University, and holds a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.