Press Releases            Dispatch Magazine             Media             Military


Mental Fitness

I remember being in elementary and having to take the presidential fitness test.  From elementary to college we are encouraged to maintain a certain level of physical fitness.  Scrolling through Instagram or watching a television commercial you can almost be guaranteed to see a reference to one’s physical health.  But what about mental fitness?  We don’t really see references to maintaining our mental fitness.  Wait, do we even know what mental fitness is?

Mental fitness is basically the ability to emotionally and psychologically meet the demands of our everyday lives.  Just like working out and eating right helps us with our physical fitness there are things we can do to help us with our mental fitness.  Here are few things you can try incorporating into your life to help you maintain or improve your level of mental fitness.

Exercise
I’m sure you’ve heard of the “runner’s high.”  Exercise releases endorphins, which are those “feel good” hormones.  Exercise also increases the blood flow to your brain which increases the level of oxygen to your brain.  The combination of these two can help you reach a calmer, more relaxed state after your workout.  This can lead to better decision making and less stress in your everyday life.

Use Humor
Speaking of stress, stress can cause an increase of cortisol in your body which can lead you feeling fatigued, angry, and/or irritable.  Using humor to help you handle stressful situations can help reduce your stress level and lower your level of cortisol.  If you enjoyed reading the Sunday comics look some up online, or pick up a newspaper.  Read a funny story or watch a comedy to help you destress.  

Focus on one task at a time
Technology can be fantastic, but it can also mean that we are multitasking more now than ever before.  We may feel that if we are not doing 100 things at a time, then we are wasting our time or not accomplishing “enough.”  This can cause us to feel like we have to go full force at all times but what ends up happening is that we may end up depleting our energy source! Take your time and focus on one thing at a time.  

Hobby
Pick up a new hobby! Learning something creates new neural pathways in our brains.  Or maybe you have an old hobby that you have neglected and you want to get back into. This can be anything from reading to photography to gardening.  Hobbies help you become task orientated and can help you feel productive.

Reach Out
Life gets tough sometimes.  And sometimes we have to reach out.  Don’t fear reaching out.  Utilize your support system.  Remember that show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” had phone a friend as an option for contestant’s life line.  You can choose to use “phone a friend” to help you cope.  Sometimes just vocalizing your stressors helps you feel better.  You can also reach out to a professional.  Call your counselor and set up an appointment.  Or if you don’t have a counselor, you can call the counseling line (512-782-5069) and speak to someone or set up an appointment.

Hope these five tips can help you on the road to mental fitness.  Just like it’s important to keep our muscles active to keep up with our physical fitness it is just as important to keep our brain active for our mental fitness.

Heart as big as Texas

Story by: Sgt. 1st Class John Gately

CPT Mills with her puppyFor 20 years the Texas State Guard has been part of Operation Lone Star.  Over those years, these men and women have helped countless numbers of people and brought medical services to many that could not afford it.

This year started no different than any other year, but by the end of the day, a new family would be created.

This mission took a turn when a sweet, friendly but mischievous puppy found its way into the hearts of many at the Brownsville Medical Point of Distribution.

This little puppy was eager to meet every Soldier and patient as she wandered the MPOD. Of course, no one could pass up spending a little time with her.

After a long day of wandering around the MPOD, receiving lots of love and food, the puppy was seen laying down in a shady doorway. Several students watched the puppy and started to think the worst on that very hot day. They summoned a veterinarian from the Public Health Service that was attached to Remote Area Medical, one of the many providers of Operation Lone Star, to check on the puppy to make sure she was well.  After examining the puppy, the vet stated the puppy was just worn out and tired from her activities. However, she was in need of care, as she was covered in fleas and ticks and needed a myriad of other things that puppies require.

Several students worried about the puppy’s future as the Brownsville Animal Control was called.  In no time, one of the JROTC students, the RAM vet, and troops from the Texas State Guard came together and a plan was hatched with Brownsville Animal Control.  Animal Control would take the puppy to be spayed and receive all the needed immunizations and care, then JROTC Cadet Emily Cortez and her mother, Ann Erblich, would pick up the puppy and care for it until her new owner, Capt. Diann Mills could take her home.

The Texas State Guard mission is to always help Texans in their time of need, this time, it was a four-legged Texan that needed our help and Texas State Guard was “Equal to the task”!

Texas Counterdrug commemorates 30th Anniversary of law enforcement support

Story by: Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura

Photo By Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura | Col. Miguel Torres and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Harless cut the Counterdrug's 30th Anniversary cake. Current and former task force members reunited with their law enforcement and community partners to commemorate the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force's 30 years of support to law enforcement agencies, Aug. 7, 2019, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Counterdrug law enforcement partners in attendance included the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, three out of the four Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area directors, two of the three Drug Enforcement Administration field division special agents in charge, the Texas Department Public Safety, the Texas Rangers and the Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Division. The law enforcement partners were presented with a 30th Anniversary certificate of appreciation and a 30th anniversary commemorative Counterdrug coin. As part of the ceremony, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Briggs was awarded as the Counterdrug Bil Enney Task Force Member of the Year and Staff Sgt. Tiffany Carrion was awarded as the Texas Criminal Analyst of the Year. Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell, the Texas Military Department Deputy Adjutant General-Air, presided over the ceremony with several other TMD leadership in attendance.
Photo By Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura | Col. Miguel Torres and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Harless cut the Counterdrug's 30th Anniversary cake. Current and former task force members reunited with their law enforcement and community partners to commemorate the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force's 30 years of support to law enforcement agencies, Aug. 7, 2019, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Counterdrug law enforcement partners in attendance included the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, three out of the four Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area directors, two of the three Drug Enforcement Administration field division special agents in charge, the Texas Department Public Safety, the Texas Rangers and the Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Division. The law enforcement partners were presented with a 30th Anniversary certificate of appreciation and a 30th anniversary commemorative Counterdrug coin. As part of the ceremony, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Briggs was awarded as the Counterdrug Bil Enney Task Force Member of the Year and Staff Sgt. Tiffany Carrion was awarded as the Texas Criminal Analyst of the Year. Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell, the Texas Military Department Deputy Adjutant General-Air, presided over the ceremony with several other TMD leadership in attendance.

AUSTIN, Texas— Current and former task force members reunited with their law enforcement and community partners to commemorate the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force’s 30 years of support to law enforcement agencies, Aug. 7, 2019, at Camp Mabry. 

The National Guard Counterdrug program, was established by congressional legislation in 1989, with a mission to leverage unique military capabilities, national resources, and community focus in the nation's response to drugs and associated security threats. 

“The National Guard Counterdrug Program was one of the most brilliant acts our U.S. Congress established 30 years ago,” Col. Miguel Torres, Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Coordinator said. “This program allows the Citizen-Soldier to support law enforcement agencies down to our communities, making it a solid grass roots initiative.”

With miles of border and numerous bridges and border crossings, Texas is prime real estate for major drug trafficking organizations to operate, but not without a fight from the task force. 

Shortly after President Reagan declared a “War on Drugs”, the Texas National Guard was one of the first states to conduct counter-narcotics support missions with law enforcement.

“Cartels and drugs do not discriminate and show no mercy,” said Torres. “The Counterdrug program adds a layer of support and hope to our communities, our great state of Texas and our national security.”

Counterdrug law enforcement partners in attendance included the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, three out of the four Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area directors, two of the three Drug Enforcement Administration field division special agents in charge, the Texas Department Public Safety, the Texas Rangers and the Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Division. 

The law enforcement partners were presented with a 30th Anniversary certificate of appreciation and a 30th anniversary commemorative Counterdrug coin. 

As part of the ceremony, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Briggs was awarded as the Counterdrug Bil Enney Task Force Member of the Year and Staff Sgt. Tiffany Carrion was awarded as the Texas Criminal Analyst of the Year. 

In addition, Arthur Doty, a DEA senior executive from Washington D.C., was the law enforcement guest speaker. 

“Terrible people do terrible things, but in order to get them into the court room you have to synthesize this,” said Doty pointing to a photo of multiple stacks of case evidence in a presentation. “And don’t forget the electronic version. The only way we are going to do that is with the relationship with the Guard and law enforcement. 

“You take the best and brightest in the National Guard and combine them with our law enforcement analysts and case agents and synthesize that into something a courtroom, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and a jury will understand.”

Leaders from the Massachusetts, New Mexico and Mississippi Counterdrug programs also attended to commemorate the national program’s success. 

“I love the fact this is the 30th anniversary and we are proud of that history,” said Doty. “The relationship between the Guard and our law enforcement has to grow. This is our community, our state, our country and we become all the stronger when we work together. On the behalf of all law enforcement personnel, we thank you for support to us as well.”

Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell, the Texas Military Department Deputy Adjutant General – Air, presided over the ceremony with several other TMD leadership in attendance. 

“In my opinion, it is the worst epidemic problems that we have in our country when 70,000 U.S. citizens die from drug-related overdoses in a year,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, the 36th Infantry Division commander. “One thing about the Guard is that we are a community-based organization, at the grass roots---it’s how we were built. 

“It shows we were organized from the very beginning and working with our partners in an intergovernmental agency relationship is how we get after the problem.”

Hamilton, previously presided over the Counterdrug program when he served as the Domestic Operations Task Force Commander.

“The thing to me, as a Division commander, a combat commander, who has troops who serve---the Counterdrug program is not what I think people feared; that it would be a distractor to the readiness of our force,” said Hamilton. 

“It was exactly the opposite. The Soldiers who I have serving the program are physically fit because they have to be because they are on active duty, they are medically ready and because of the way Title 32 was written they have to be able to train with my formation to maintain their readiness and be available for deployment at any time. Counterdrug is a readiness enhancer for our force.”

The 30 years of the program’s history are marked by parks that are built in the place of demolished drug houses, record multi-billion dollar drug seizures, positively impacted at-risk youth, and has enhanced law enforcement agency’s capabilities. 

Hamilton recalled attending Operation Crackdown, where Counterdrug engineers knocked down a home known for illicit drug activity.

“I’ve seen it first hand, a crack house getting knocked down in a neighborhood and hours later watching kids play soccer on an empty lot that was a crack house 24 hours before with people dealing and using drugs,” said Hamilton. “That is getting after what the problem is in communities. That folks, is why we have a Counterdrug program and why it needs to continue to be successful.”

Physical Fitness

By: Ari Penalosa, LPC, LMFT TMD Counselor

The Mind Body Connection
Recent research shows there’s a connection between physical and emotional wellness. So, the next time you hit the running trail, take your dog for a walk, or tend to your garden you’ll be working out more than just your body. The mind body connection is powerful and are often interdependent on each other.
Benefits on Mood and Mental Health:
Did you know that physical exercise helps the release of endorphins, also known as “the feel-good chemicals”, in the brain? Considered natural mood lifters, studies show endorphins are increased through moderate exercise. 
Studies indicate people who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who don't.  Similar studies also show moderate intensity exercise can be an effective treatment on its own for mild-to-moderate depression. Exercise has been shown to ease chronic depression by increasing serotonin which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite.
Individuals that deal with anxiety and depression can find exercise serves as healthy coping strategy by shifting focus to the here and now and helping them take their mind off their worries.

Other positive aspects of physical exercise can be increased energy levels and improved sleep, as well as prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. It can also serve to increase focus and concentration. For some individuals meeting exercise goals can give them a sense of accomplishment and provide them a boost in self-confidence. 
 
What does an effective exercise routine look like?
Before starting any kind of exercise regime please make sure to consult with your medical provider.  It’s also important to note that exercise alone cannot serve a replacement for talk therapy or taking psychotropic medications. 
For many the idea of starting an exercise regime might seem tedious and intimidating, even more so for those dealing with depression and anxiety. An effective exercise routine does not have to be time consuming or overly strenuous. In fact, it’s advisable to start slow with realistic exercise goals that will ensure you stick with your fitness regimen. A recent Harvard study showed that running for 15 minutes a day or walking briskly for an hour reduced the risk of major depression.

Points to Consider:
In order to ensure that you’ll stay motivated and consistent with your exercise regime consider the following:
•    Do activities you enjoy or explore new forms of exercise (Zumba, hiking, yoga, or anything that will put a smile on your face and gets your heart rate up).
•    Think about a set time that’s convenient in order to increase the chance that you’ll follow through with your new plan. 
•    Remember to create your exercise plan with your own needs and physical abilities in mind. 
Don’t get discouraged if find it difficult to stick to a new exercise regime. Be honest with yourself and determine what's stopping you from exercising or being physically active. It’s normal to have setbacks and encounter obstacles. Try to reframe exercise from being a chore to more of a lifestyle change. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for any effort made towards this new journey into a more active lifestyle. Your mind and body will thank you for it. 

Safety on the Flight Line

Story by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, Texas State Guard

Posted July 26, 2019

Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard, stands at a flight line to guide visitors, who are looking at the collection of commemorative aircraft, safely away from the active ramps and taxiways where aircraft are moved and refueled at the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, Texas, October 19, 2018. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)
Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard, stands at a flight line to guide visitors, who are looking at the collection of commemorative aircraft, safely away from the active ramps and taxiways where aircraft are moved and refueled at the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, Texas, October 19, 2018. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)

HOUSTON –The Texas State Guard provided logistical and medical support for the 19th consecutive year to the annual Commemorative Air Force Wings over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, from October 17-21, 2018.  With the anticipated number of visitors to exceed 50,000, air show organizers have come to depend upon the Texas State Guard support at one of the largest airshows in the country.
   
Securing the flight line is one of the important assignments of the Texas State Guard.  Guard members from the 8th Regiment, Army Component, were on duty to maintain a safe distance from the active ramps and taxiways to prevent visitors from accidentally wandering into areas where aircraft are moving for takeoff, landing, or refueling. 

"We are like a guardrail for airshow visitors.  We stand along the taxiways to safeguard visitors who do not realize that they are approaching an off-limits area or a danger zone.  We want everyone to enjoy the show but from a safe distance," stated Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard.

Guard members also staffed gated entry points to the airport.  They checked to ensure items carried onto airport property adhered to airport rules.  They also provided airshow information and directions to visitors.
 
The guard members from the 5th Air Wing, Air Component, assisted airport ramp personnel who moved aircraft as ramps were opened and closed to public access.  They also established communications using the Texas Interoperable Communications Package, which is used as a means of communication when other types of communication equipment are not available, normal communication channels are damaged during an emergency or disaster, such as a hurricane or flooding, or when electronic data is sent from remote locations. 
 
The 2nd Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade, staffed a medic tent with civilian counterparts to provide first aid to visitors. 
 
Guard members support to the Wings over Houston Airshow is one example of how the Texas State Guard uses community service activities to exercise skills that are used to support state and local authorities in times of emergencies or disasters.  Guard members practiced command and control, logistics, communications and other skills which apply to shelter management operations and traffic flow during the distribution of food and water.
  
"Anytime that the Texas State Guard can support our local communities, whether disaster support or community activity support, means that the Texas State Guard is serving our fellow Texans.  We are Texans Serving Texas!" stated Maj. Austin Green, Executive Officer, 8th Regiment.
 

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.