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A ‘Changing of the Guard’ in the Texas State Guard

By David Brown, WO1, TXSG, HQ

Brigadier General  Woods (left) has assumed duties as acting commander of the Texas State Guard after Major General Bodisch (right) recently retired after 33 years of service.  

AUSTIN, Texas - On Sunday, October 31st, as dignitaries, officials of the Texas Military Department (TMD), and members of the Texas State Guard’s (TXSG) 6th Brigade and Headquarters Company toasted newly retired Major General Robert J. Bodisch, Sr. at a reception at Camp Mabry, a poignant moment took place outside an empty office at Building 32, TXSG Headquarters.  Amid dimmed lights, without fanfare or audience, a lone State Guardsman carefully and quietly removed a plaque by the door reading “MG BODISCH”. In its place went up a new plaque: “BG WOODS”.  

Just a few minutes earlier, Bodisch’s retirement as Commander of the TXSG was celebrated on Camp Mabry parade field with a full-color guard, a final ceremonial inspection of the troops (accompanied by Major General Tracy Norris, Texas Adjutant General and Commander of Texas Military Forces), and congratulatory remarks from Norris. Also in attendance were Stephen McCraw, Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas State Representatives Cecil Bell, and Phil King (both TXSG service members), past Commanders of the TXSG, TXSG officers from across the state, as well as friends and members of the Bodisch family. 

“I can’t thank you enough for your service to Texas.”, Bodisch said in brief farewell remarks to the TXSG forces. “You epitomize ‘Texans Serving Texans’, and you exemplify our motto, ‘Equal to the Task’.”

Bodisch was appointed Commanding General of the TXSG in 2018 by Governor Greg Abbott.  A veteran of the US Marine Corps, Bodisch’s 45-year career in law enforcement and criminal justice included two tours of duty in Iraq with the Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. Bodisch also served as Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which included responsibility for Texas Homeland Security.  He received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Civilian Service Commendation Medal in 2005, and the U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal in 2007 for service in Iraq. Bodisch holds a Master Peace Officer license with over 6800 hours of law enforcement education and training, a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from the University of Houston, and a master’s degree in quality systems management from the National Graduate School in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

Bodisch joined the TXSG in 1988.  His many years rising through the ranks of the TXSG prepared him well for what would be a transformative and historic 3-year term as Commanding General.  In that role, Bodisch emphasized training with an overhaul of professional military education, a top-to-bottom review and overhaul of regulations and policies, and a reorganization and streamlining of the organization, aligning brigades with the Texas Emergency Management map, capable of rapidly mobilizing ‘mission ready’ specialist teams anywhere in the state.  Bodisch transitioned the TXSG into a common uniform, significantly increased the Chaplain Corps, developed a casualty notification and Casualty Assistance Program, a wellness program, a performance evaluation program, a dispute resolution program, a history unit, four new TXSG service awards, and enhanced training for search and rescue. Bodisch bolstered dive teams and boat rescue teams, the TXSG recruiting program, and a professional public affairs section.

Bodisch led the TXSG through a historic period of deployment, logging over 80,000 Service member days - numbers not seen since World War II. Deployments included tropical weather events, a tornado, civil disturbance, medical and border missions, as well as COVID-19 response. 
Maj. General Bodisch is married to Charisse Canfield of Longview, Texas and has four sons: Robert, Jr., currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps; Kenneth, recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and currently working with FEMA; James, who works for Tango in Austin; and Joseph, an engineer with Anheuser-Busch.

Governor Abbott has not yet appointed a replacement as permanent Commanding General, but the Guard will be led in the interim by a respected, experienced leader with distinguished federal and state military service who well knows the needs of Texas, cares deeply about TXSG soldiers, and has a deep appreciation for the reputation of the TXSG as the pre-eminent State Guard force in the nation. 

The Texas Adjutant General, Major General Tracy Norris has appointed Brigadier General Anthony Woods as acting Texas State Guard Commander.  

Woods’ resume includes several leadership positions in 1st Battalion 112th Armor, Dallas, including Battalion Executive Officer during Operation Noble Eagle (the first deployment of troops to protect America’s infrastructure from Terrorist attacks after 9-11). In 2005, Woods became the first African American Commander of the 1st Battalion, 112th Armor, leading his unit in the first American training exercise in the country of Romania after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2006, Woods served as Deputy Commander for Operation Jump Start (OJS), an initiative started by President Bush to secure the Southwest border.  He also served as the Deputy Commander of the Joint Interagency Task Force (JI-A-TF).  Woods commanded the 136th Combined Arms Training Regiment in 2010, leading it to be awarded the Institution of Excellence by the Army Training and Doctrine Command.  In 2012, Woods deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, as the Task Force Commander of the Security Force Agency Task Force (S-FAT).  

Since 2015, Woods has served in various positions with the State Guard, most recently as Deputy Commanding General. 

As a former Dallas Police Officer and Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Woods served in the Los Angeles Field Division before moving to the Houston Field Division Waco Resident Office in 1999.  In 2005, Woods transferred to the Houston office where he served on several High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area teams (HIDTA) before moving to the technical group. Woods retired from the DEA in June 2018. 

Woods is married to Cecilia (formerly Durham) of Dallas, Texas, and they have seven children.  Tony, a graduate of Tarleton State University; Amanda and Christen both graduates from Sam Houston State University; Dalton, a graduate of North Texas State University; Ciara, a medical assistant student at the College of Health Care Professionals; David is in the United States Air Force station in Alaska; and Daniel is a Senior at Lamar University. The Woods have one grandson, Marcellus Marquise Pullom. 

Brig. Gen. Woods earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University and an M.S. Degree from the United States Army War College.

In the military, such transitions are sometimes referred to as a “changing of the guard”. But Woods has made clear that his plans for the immediate future are to sustain the momentum established by his predecessor: a remarkable trajectory for which former TXSG Commanding General Bodisch will long be remembered. 

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

 

 

Texas State Guard Hosts Dallas City Councilman

By John Duesing, PV2, Texas State Guard, 1st Brigade

DALLAS (October 23, 2021) - The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade hosted Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez at its headquarters in Dallas on October 23.  Commanding Officer of the 1BDE, Brigadier General Robert Hastings greeted Mr. Narvaez before moving into the Drill Hall. Councilman Narvaez delivered remarks about the Texas State Guard’s involvement in disaster relief and presented a certificate of special recognition signed by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

“We couldn’t have accomplished the emergency water distribution following Winter Storm Uri without the Texas State Guard,” said Narvaez. “Your willingness to serve others out of the goodness of your heart in times of needs represents the best of Texas.”

The certificate recognized the work of the Texas State Guard over the past year, including COVID-19 response, Hurricane Laura evacuations, and Winter Storm Uri relief. Activities the Texas State Guard undertook during these crises included civil support and emergency management missions, surveying decommissioned medical facilities to expand COVID-19 treatment capacity, and establishing water points-of-distribution.

“Building and maintaining our relationships with city leadership is a key part of our mission with the Texas State Guard,” said General Hastings. “This helps us to serve our local Texas communities better.”

Following the presentation of the certificate, the Texas State Guard presented awards and promotions as well as swore in new Texas State Guardsmen. The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade supports 113 counties in North Texas and the panhandle. 

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

Texas National Guard hosts Egyptian Armed Forces for state partnership summit

Egyptian Delegation
Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington | The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris. The weeklong summit provided a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the Egypt-Texas partnership and learn more about each other's respective organizations. The Texas National Guard formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington) 

10.04.2021
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington 
Texas Military Department  

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris.

Texas formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. The ETIS is the first senior leader summit between the two organizations since the partnership began.

“This weeklong summit provides a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the partnership,” said William Duff, Senior Advisor for Political-Military and International Affairs for the Texas Military Department.

During the summit, attendees participated in a two-day conference in Austin, discussing their respective organizations, security challenges, areas of cooperation, and future subject matter expert exchanges.

Areas of emphasis for future exchanges will include the C-130J Super Hercules airlift and F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter operations, AH-64 Apache helicopter flight maneuver and maintenance, cyber defense, logistics, special forces, homeland security response, military support to civilian authorities, and humanitarian and disaster assistance response.

“The exchanges between our militaries will make both our forces stronger, build our interoperability, and diversify our formations,” said Norris. “And these exchanges don’t just benefit Egypt and Texas. They benefit CENTCOM’s strategic objectives and the overall U.S.-Egypt relationship.”

Since June’s signing ceremony, as part of the SPP, Texas And Egypt have already facilitated five subject matter expert exchanges focused on the commanders’ resilience program, cavalry scout tactics, civil disturbance operations, explosive ordnance operations, and marksmanship.

“Conducting five training events in a relatively short time is concrete evidence that the partnership is developing really quick,” said Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fekry, Deputy Education and Training Commander, Egyptian Training Authority.

The summit also provided the opportunity to build upon the longstanding relationship Texas and Egypt already have.

Since 2006, the Texas National Guard has contributed troops to five rotations of the Multinational Force and Observers, an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai peninsula that oversees the terms of the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

More recently, Texas Guardsmen participated for the second time in Exercise Bright Star, a multilateral Egyptian and U.S.-led multinational exercise designed to enhance regional security and stability by responding to present-day security scenarios.

“Partnership with Texas is an expansion to the strategic partnership with the U.S., a great partnership that lasts over four decades where military and security cooperation are the milestone of the relation between the two countries” said Fekry.

The summit also familiarized Egyptian partners with the TXNG’s facilities and capabilities. The visit included an orientation flight on the Texas National Guard’s newest aircraft, the C-130J and tours of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and the Texas National Guard Regional Training Institute.

“Texas owns great potentials in all fields and excels in some areas such as [unmanned aerial vehicles], intelligence, education, and supporting their civil community,” said Fekry. “Texas and Egypt have great capabilities and expertise that may help both sides achieve mutual benefits.”

The Texas National Guard has state partnerships with the Czech Republic and Chile, routinely conducting exchanges and joint operations.

“Texas has the most experienced troops we’ve ever seen. In the last several years we’ve contributed to numerous overseas deployments, multilateral training, civil disturbance operations, COVID-19 response, natural disasters, and border support.” said Norris. “The timing is perfect for this partnership, Egypt is getting the best skills we have to offer.”

Search and Rescue Finds New Focus, Mission Readiness in Texas State Guard

By David Brown, WO1, Texas State Guard

Camp Swift, TX – “A child is missing...”

“My father is lost...”

“We think our grandparents may be trapped by the floodwaters…”

Such events can set off an intense sense of desperation.  Time is of the essence.  Every minute of delay may be a matter of life or death.  

Soon, the Texas State Guard will play a much bigger role in responding to such emergencies in coordination with state and local authorities. 

The Texas State Guard Search and Rescue program has launched a major new transition to standardize training, to create an official Mission Ready Package, and to make the State Guard’s search and rescue capability a go-to resource for officials statewide. 

“Our goal is to have hundreds of Texas State Guardsmen earn national-level certifications so we can partner with local jurisdictions across the state in search and rescue operations,” said Brig. Gen. Talentino Angelosante, Asst. Dep. Commanding General of the Texas State Guard. 

A longtime veteran of the U.S. Army with decades of experience in search and rescue is redesigning the program and overseeing new instruction and certification standards for State Guard search and rescue personnel.  

Capt. Terry Benjamin joined the Texas State Guard in 2015 with 18 years of prior federal service, and experience as a trained Cavalry Scout and Blackhawk pilot. 

“I’ve been doing search and rescue all my life, deployed hundreds and hundreds of times,” Benjamin said. 

In addition to using his tracking skills throughout the Middle East and South America, Benjamin performed search and rescue operations as an Army medical evacuation pilot. Benjamin also taught Urban and Wilderness tracking techniques with the U.S. Border Patrol, while working as a law enforcement officer in Southern California. Benjamin is currently director of Lone Star Search and Rescue, a North Texas K-9 search and rescue team, and serves as a SARTECH II Senior Evaluator for the National Association of Search and Rescue. Additionally, he is one of the founding members of the Texas Task Force 2 (TX-TF2) urban search and rescue unit, an elite team of search and rescue dog handlers. 

In the coming months, Benjamin anticipates assessing the existing search and rescue skills of all State Guard personnel, to support agency plans to certify qualifying service members under a new partnership between the Texas State Guard and the National Association of Search and Rescue. This new arrangement will make it possible for State Guardsmen to get intensified field and classroom training culminating in the association’s nationally accredited Search and Rescue Technician Level 1 certification. The new program, developed in collaboration with the National Association of Search and Rescue, includes training tailored to the State Guard service with participants able to obtain certification within 4 to 6 months. 

The Texas State Guard has a rich history in search and rescue operations, notably during major disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.  The State Guard was also among the first on the scene in the wake of the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy and has a long record of assisting Texas Parks and Wildlife in performing search and rescue operations. 

Having search and rescue technicians in the Guard isn’t new, said Benjamin. This is the first time, however, that the Texas State Guard will have a standardized way to assess service members in this field, empowering the State Guard to stand up mission-ready packages in support of partner agencies statewide.

“We want to get as many service members qualified as we can so that we can be a force multiplier,” said Maj. H. Lee Burton, Dep. Commander of the Texas State Guard Special Teams Training Group. 

Burton said he anticipates developing close relationships with local fire departments, sheriffs, and other agencies statewide so that they know they can call on highly trained State Guard forces to support their search and rescue efforts.

“This will help local communities in a big way,” said Burton. “And help us enhance our role as ‘Texans Serving Texas.’”

“I think about how we helped during the floods in Wimberley (in 2015),” Benjamin said.  “We can build on that. The local sheriff calls, they don’t have the manpower, they don’t have a dog team, they need areas cleared. And the Texas State Guard is ready to go in.  Texas has flooding like that all the time.  With Mission Ready Packages (MRP) in place, we can do more for more communities.  We want to be in front of everybody’s mind.”

Tracking skills are important, but land navigation, GPS, and technology skills are, too. Everyone in the Texas State Guard has a role to play and a strength to bring to search and rescue operations. 

“This isn’t some elitist program, we want everybody in,” said Benjamin. 

Some people may be proficient with boats, others drones, and drivers are needed as well. 

Although the goal of getting everyone to a Search and Rescue Technician Level II certification is a long-term objective, the ball is already rolling. So far, 16 Texas State Guardsmen have received their SARTECH II certification through this program.

“Our goal is to train everybody in the Texas State Guard in search and rescue,” said Benjamin. “So when ‘the emergency’ comes, we have people ready to serve in those MRPs.”

The Texas State Guard is looking for Texans with search and rescue experience, as well as people with backgrounds in engineering, law, medicine, construction, technology, and other fields willing to serve the people of the Lone Star State.  Prior military experience is not required to join the Texas State Guard, but those with prior federal service are especially encouraged to explore available opportunities.  More information can be found online at tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).
 

MG Federico Lopez III Story

MG Frederico


HARLINGEN, Texas – Retired Maj. Gen. Federico Lopez III, the first Hispanic commander-general of the 49th Armored Division, passed away Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Texas Guardsmen came together to honor their brother in arms with full military honors.  Lopez was laid to rest at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Lopez served with the Texas National Guard for more than 38 years, beginning as a platoon leader with the 4-144th Infantry Regiment starting in February 1963 and retiring in 1998.

Lopez is survived by his wife, Enriqueta "Keta" Lopez, and two daughters, Laura and Melissa.

"My uncle was extremely influential on our family," a member of the Lopez family said. "He taught us to work hard and value service to the nation."

MG Frederico Lopez IIILopez assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the 49th Armored Division in 1990 and led the division in 1995. Lopez focused his efforts on increasing the quality of training in the force. In a 1997 report with Armor Magazine on the state of the 49th Armored Division, Lopez explained his philosophy:

"Do less better." said Lopez. "Stop trying to do more with less."

This philosophy led to relocating weekend drills away from Texas armories to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where infantry units and armor units would participate in combined drills to take advantage of top-of-the-line simulation technology.

Lopez helped modernize the division by upgrading the division with M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. In addition, thousands of Texas Soldiers deployed under Lopez's command supported peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and supported efforts in Germany and Australia.

Lopez also mentored partner military leaders through the State Partnership Program. The program was established to developed relationships between state national Guards and allied nations. Texas leaders like Lopez worked together helping prepare the nation to enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which occurred in 1999, shortly after Lopez retired.

"Major General Lopez had a monumental impact on the Texas National Guard, said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. "His leadership and innovation helped shape our force for the future. We are where we are today because of people like him."

Love in the Texas State Guard

By Johnathan Winston, 1LT, Texas State Guard

BIG SPRING, Texas - If you ask the typical soldier to explain what the Texas State Guard means to them, you might hear them talk about duty, honor, and the opportunity to serve their fellow Texans. If you ask Pfc. Robert Parks and Pvt. Abigail Parks, of Big Spring, Texas those questions you are likely to hear a similar story, or you may learn about a romance born out of service that led these two members of the Texas State Guard 3rd Brigade to become more than fellow service members. They also became husband and wife.

Robert was raised in the East Texas town of Livingston and joined the Texas State Guard in 2017.  

“I decided to enlist to help Texans in need, to make a difference in peoples’ lives, and to see where it took me,” Robert said.

For Abigail, of Chihuahua, Mexico, her State Guard story began in 2018 after she completed the civilian education needed to enlist. 

Neither knew it at the time but her enlistment would lead both Guardsmen on a course to the alter. Robert remembers their first meeting which took place after Abigail’s swearing-in ceremony. 

“She was asked to stand and introduce herself to the squad, and to tell us about herself and what she wanted to do in the Guard. I listened and could relate to everything she was saying as far as service, family, and children,” said Robert. “All of our kids are the same age, she has a son and two daughters, and I have a son and two daughters.”

From there, destiny took over as Robert gave Abigail some uniform insignia items, a custom between longer serving soldiers and newly sworn-in troops. He also shared one more item that turned out to be a symbol of their future lives together.  Months earlier Robert shared how he had acquired two pocket bibles with camouflage covers months earlier. 

“I kept one Bible in the left pocket of my blouse, and the extra one in my ruck. I have no idea why I grabbed the other one, but I did,” said Robert.

On the day Robert and Abigail met, he gave her his extra Bible. Their relationship blossomed from there, and the pair eventually married in 2019.  All of these years later, they both carry those same military Bibles in their left blouse pockets when in uniform.   

“We owe our lives together to the Texas State Guard,” Robert said when asked about how serving continues to impact lives for himself and Abigail.  “The Texas State Guard enabled us to do this.  We love serving in the Guard because this is what brought us together.” 

Both Guardsmen say their relationship has grown right alongside their service to Texas. The Parks emphasize a love of physical challenges and helping others whenever possible, and they look forward to developing as leaders together. 

 

 

TEXAS GUARDSMAN AMONG 17 TO GRADUATE FROM MOTOR TRANSPORT OPERATOR COURSE

Spc Lois Davilla
Spc. Louis Davilla (left), of the Texas Army National Guard, receives a Certificate from Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, of Sherman, Illinois, Commander, 1st Battalion, 129th Regiment (RTI) during the Motor Transport Operator Reclassification Course graduation ceremony May 6 at the Regional Training Institute, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. (U.S. Army photo by Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office)

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – Seventeen Soldiers, including Spc. Louis Davilla of the Texas Army National Guard, graduated from the Motor Transport Operator Reclassification Course May 6 at the Illinois National Guard Regional Training Institute, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois.

“Nothing happens until something moves,” said 1st Sgt. James Davis, of Springfield, Illinois, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 129th Regiment (RTI) and Commercial Transportation Officer, U.S. Property and Fiscal Office, Illinois National Guard. “You have learned a skill set that not many people have. But it’s a lot more than just driving a truck.”

Davis told the graduates they have spent the past 28 days learning to become entry-level logisticians.

“You will have Soldiers that will depend on your leadership skills,” he said. “Those Soldiers will get you through your day-to-day operations. You’re there to keep the battle moving, to keep supplies on the front lines and to get troops where they need to be.”

Davis said that as motor transport operators they’ll be among the first Soldiers called up when needed.

1st Sgt. James Davis
1st Sgt. James Davis, of Springfield, Illinois, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 129th Regiment (RTI), congratulates the 17 Soldiers graduating from the Motor Transport Operators course May 6 at the Regional Training Institute, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. (U.S. Army photo by Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office)

“There will be supplies that need to be moved, and you’ll be there to back up the front line troops,” he said.

He urged the graduates to be ready, and always be open to learning.

“Take what you have learned back to your units and share it with your junior enlisted Soldiers,” he said. “Share with your command what you have learned so they can better their standard operational procedures. Be ready and keep brushing up on your skill sets.”

Davis urged the Soldiers to stay safe as they put their new MOS into action.

 

“Do all the safety checks before pulling out on a mission,” he said.

The two-phase course honored a Distinguished Honor Graduate and Honor Graduate Sgt. Arthur Krupa, of the Missouri National Guard, was selected as the Distinguished Honor Graduate and Staff Sgt. Cody Schaefer, of Murphysboro, Illinois, was selected as the Honor Graduate.

“The course was a great experience,” said Krupa. “We had some good times and received a lot of good training.”
 

Soldier, Architect, Expert Engineer: Texas State Guardsman and Purple Heart recipient earns prestigious engineering award

By David Brown, WO1, Texas State Guard

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas State Guard First Lieutenant Christopher Beck, a Purple Heart recipient, has been awarded the Engineer Specialty Qualification designation from the State Guard Association of the United States. The designation is awarded to the most experienced engineers upon completion of the SGAUS Engineer Specialty Qualification Identification program. 

The program was created by the SGAUS Engineering Academy in 2015 to help state guard forces quickly identify and deploy highly-trained engineers during state emergencies. 

“By earning the prestigious Engineer Specialty Qualification designation, Lt. Beck is leading the way among TXSG engineers,” says Lt. Col. Cecil Bell, Chief Engineer for the TXSG Command Group and General Staff.  

The demanding training program includes coursework developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management Structure and FEMA Independent Course Studies. Beck, a Midland native, undertook two years of intensive training to earn the honor.

“The most challenging aspect was time; it takes an immense amount of time to get through all requirements and training,” says Beck, a Texas Tech graduate with a Master’s Degree in Architecture.

In addition to SGAUS membership, successful applicants must earn the SGAUS Basic Military Emergency Management Specialist badge, pass a physical fitness requirement, and demonstrate qualifying knowledge and experience in the field of engineering or construction, with a professional degree or extensive work experience in engineering, construction management, architecture, surveying, technology or a related field.  

Beck is a Project Captain and Associate Architect at WCA Design Studios in Lubbock.  
He describes himself as a lifelong learner. “In the profession of architecture, you expand your knowledge daily, and I take that to all aspects of my life.”  

Public service has been a central part of Beck’s life. Beck served for a combined total of over 11 years in the U.S. Army and Texas Army National Guard, including service in the 56th Brigade Combat Team. Beck joined the ranks of the TXSG in December 2017. His twin brother, Pvt. 1st Class Robert Beck, also serves in the TXSG. 

While prior federal service is not a requirement for TXSG service, Beck cites a desire to assist fellow Texans and the opportunity of serving with his brother as two major factors in his decision to join the TXSG. 

The skill badge on Lt. Beck’s uniform speaks to his own personal accomplishment and highlights the emphasis the TXSG places on the continued professional training of its soldiers. 

“I’m sure others will be inspired by his success,” Bell adds, “and I heartily encourage qualified members of our Engineer Corps to explore the challenges and opportunities offered by the SGAUS Engineering Academy.”

Beck currently serves in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, TXSG as an Engineer Primary Skills Officer. Beck, his wife, Kerry, and their two children live in Lubbock. 

The Texas State Guard is actively looking for Texans interested in serving their fellow Texans, and it especially encourages applications from those with backgrounds in engineering, construction, law and law enforcement, information technology, medicine, communications, and other professions. More information about joining the TXSG can be found online at https://tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

The mission of the Texas Military Department (TMD) is to provide the Governor and the President with ready and trained forces in support of the citizens of Texas and State and Federal civil/military authorities at home and abroad.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration, the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG). 

 

Texas State Guard 1st Brigade marks Women's History Month

By Cpt. Phoebe Sisk, 1st Brigade, Texas State Guard

DALLAS, Texas -- Ten Texas State Guard females of varying ages, experience, rank, and duties came together on March 15, 2021, at the Texas Army National Guard Armory, in honor of Women’s History Month. The meeting was led by TXSG Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, the 1st Brigade’s Commanding General, and focused on various topics to include, retention, recruiting, and employment, specifically for women in the Guard. 

Such considerations are every day, but the recent celebration of International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women offered the perfect catalyst to meet, celebrate, and brainstorm, bringing the best ideas to the table.

“Today, women comprise approximately 15 percent of our brigade,” said Hastings.  “We have three female company commanders and one first sergeant.  That is not what it could be, what it should be, or more importantly what we want it to be.”

Hastings explained his goal is to double the statistics by this time next year.

During the opening remarks, Hastings expressed one of his goals as a leader is to empower women in uniform and promote an equal force for the future. 

“My perspective is anchored in my experiences – those of a middle-aged white male,” Hastings explained.  “I can’t change that, but I can learn from your perspectives.” 

Through the open dialogue approach, servicemen and women were able to discuss tough topics such as sexual harassment, with mutual respect and understanding. 

The movement of conversation was fast and the key substance of real issues was discussed: Was sexual harassment an issue, and if so, did the women in the room feel comfortable and empowered to address it? Did they know how to report inappropriate behavior and seek assistance if necessary?

From the discussions, it was determined that sexual harassment was not an issue in the brigade, across the board, including those new to the TXSG and those with extensive experience.  “It’s just a non-event throughout all of the time that I’ve served,” offered TXSG 1st Sgt. Mary Wilson, who added that she makes it a point to keep her ears open to all happenings up and down the chain of command as the most senior enlisted female of the unit. 

Recruiting was a big first topic, with key insights offered by TXSG Staff Sgt. Angela Scarborough, a recruiter assigned to the 1st Brigade, who was recently recognized as TXSG Recruiter of the Year.

“Women want to speak to other women”, explained Scarborough.   Scarborough and others in the room recognized that recruiting and retaining women is important in order to reflect the nation’s population and ensure strong military leadership. 

The team discussed innovative ways to increase awareness of how women can serve, as well as educate local citizens on the Texas State Guard as a whole. 

Reaching the market of those who have never served is key, letting potential candidates know that age is not a prohibitor, that skills of being an informal community leader, and most of all, possessing a servant’s heart, are some of the best indicators of success in the TXSG.

Texas State Guard’s 2nd Lt. Kylie Green, who entered the TXSG to offer skills as a licensed RN, reflected on her moment of realizing that she could balance service with parenting and other life duties. “Understanding that we don’t deploy outside of Texas and that the training is part-time was important because it meant that I could be a mom and still be part of the TXSG.”

“It was wonderful to get to know General Hastings and meet some of the other ladies in the Texas State Guard,” said Pvt. Jerah Hutchins, a recent enlistee.  “They are all so selfless and accomplished!”

March is a time to celebrate the contributions and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of women who not only shape our military but our nation as well. 

Through the use of the female-focused meeting, and by providing the opportunity to network with peers and participate in group discussions, the Texas State Guardsmen are able and empowered to stand ready to serve--they are “Texans Serving Texas.”

For more information about the Texas State Guard, please go to www.join.txsg.state.tx.us.

Texas Counterdrug leads the way in the technical field, assists HSI succeed in its mission

Story by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie 
Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force 

Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force communications support member, Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, works on cutting-edge electronic equipment to support the Homeland Security Investigations Technical Operations Unit catch drug trafficking organizations in El Paso, Texas. Texas Counterdrug has supported federal, state and local law enforcement throughout the state for more than 30 years in the war on drugs.
Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force communications support member, Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, works on cutting-edge electronic equipment to support the Homeland Security Investigations Technical Operations Unit catch drug trafficking organizations in El Paso, Texas. Texas Counterdrug has supported federal, state and local law enforcement throughout the state for more than 30 years in the war on drugs.

EL PASO, Texas – In a world where technological advances have become a part of many people’s everyday life, these Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force members must ensure they are ahead of the game, or they will fall behind to the drug trafficking organizations they are trying to help dismantle.

For the past four years, Texas Counterdrug has supported the Technical Operations Unit of Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso and its contribution has paid high dividends.

“The Technical Operations Unit provides HSI components with the most innovative, cutting-edge electronic surveillance equipment and support in furtherance of criminal investigations and national security operations,” said HSI El Paso Group Supervisor Efren Aguilera, who oversees Tech Ops.

The support that Texas Counterdrug members, Army Staff Sgt. Jose Pena and Air Staff Sgt. Daniel Pando, provide for the Tech Ops Unit has no limits.

“They assist with the everyday functions of the Tech Shop that includes fabricating enclosures, function testing and issuing electronic equipment to special agents,” said Aguilera. “They support the office with radio operability functions and assist with surveillance operations. In a nutshell, they provide a wide spectrum of support.”

When Pena and Pando were assigned to the group 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 years ago respectively, they had interest in the mission but were not fully capable – yet.

“The way we were able to learn and become more proficient of the job was due to on-the-job training and exposure to the experience Technical Enforcement Officers have,” said Pena. “We had plenty of hands-on training.”

Now, Pena and Pando are providing essential instruction to agents on proper deployment, use and exploitation of various pieces of covert technical surveillance equipment.

“We pass on our experience to others by informing agents how to utilize equipment properly for their operations,” said Pena. “We also assist them in making key decisions on what specific device is the most adequate pertaining to the related case and environment.”

How they accomplish this support is even more intriguing.

“We have, several times, designed, fabricated and constructed fully customized enclosures utilizing various combinations of Plexiglas, fiberglass, metal, wood, 3D printed parts, customized decals, and paint to fully conceal,” said Pena. “All fabrications and constructions met and exceeded specifications for temperature and humidity.”

The Texas Counterdrug support not only provides HSI with additional technical support, but it allows for licensed HSI officers to return to the operational field.

“They're a force multiplier,” said Aguilera. “HSI El Paso is an extremely busy office and having National Guard support the Tech Ops Unit is a huge benefit. The Tech shop is a small unit with a big mission, so having Pena and Pando as part of the team, has been a relief.”

As an Air Force veteran, Aguilera knows what the service members bring to Tech Ops and beyond.

“In my experience, you can always count on National Guard personnel getting the job done in a timely manner and with minimal guidance,” said Aguilera. “The mission is in a better place with the partnership fostered with the National Guard, not only for Tech Ops, but for the other HSI programmatic areas for which they offer support.”

Tech Ops and Counterdrug must always improve; thinking outside the box to build new products and how they can implement them.

“They are hardworking task force members who go above and beyond, learning new ways to create new products to put in new devices,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gilberto Urbina, a Texas Counterdrug assistant team leader.

These capabilities support HSI, but also several law enforcement agencies in their area ranging from Deming, New Mexico, and reaching far into the Texas plains. They also provide support for nationwide cases.

“Our capabilities within Tech Ops would include support to the whole HSI El Paso area of responsibility with specialty technical equipment for HSI cases,” said Pando. “As well, we assist Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety with equipment.”

The task force members are not content where they are now, Pena and Pando want to keep training and moving forward to support HSI even more.

“We want more advanced training that benefits the members,” said Urbina. “For example, we’d like high-voltage training and media exploitation devices.”

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state have witnessed the expertise, commitment and dedication that the Counterdrug task force members have brought to their offices for more than 30 years.

“I respect the professionalism of the National Guard personnel,” said Aguilera. “I look forward to the continued partnership with Counterdrug.”

It is clear that the HSI Tech Ops Unit is one of the best in the country and Staff Sergeants Pena and Pando have had a crucial role in that success.

“Nationwide, HSI El Paso consistently ranks among the top in overall enforcement statistics,” said Aguilera. “These are the successes we share with our partner agencies to include the National Guard.”