Story by Capt. Maria Mengrone, Texas Military Department
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas National Guard conducted a transfer of authority on July 12, 2018, for Operation Guardian Support, the ongoing border mission prompted by the president’s call to enhance security along the U.S. southwestern border.
The 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based in Round Rock, relinquished its authority of the border mission, as part of Operation Guardian Support, to the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division based in Houston.
The 136th MEB was the first headquarter element tasked to provide operational oversight and implementation of logistical and administrative support to Guardsmen deployed along the 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border.
“As a standing Joint Task Force, the 136th MEB was able to respond to the rapid mobilization and deployment requirements,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Scott M. MacLeod, commander of the136th MEB. “Our authorities granted by the U.S. Constitution, combined with our unique military capabilities, make the National Guard the perfect force to bridge the gap between the military and law enforcement.”
Operation Guardian Support officially kicked off on April 6, 2018, when Gov. Greg Abbott activated 250 Texas National Guardsmen.
Even in the face of challenges with manning, equipment and training Soldiers from across Texas, the 136th MEB was able to successfully establish requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Our experience in the 2014 border mobilization and previous mobilizations enabled us to anticipate the requirements for the operational environment in which we’d be operating,” said MacLeod. “Both Hurricane Harvey, as well as this recent mobilization, have reminded us that we must be prepared to deploy with no notice in support of our state and nation.”
Guardsmen assigned to Operation Guardian Support are activated under Title 32 duty status, allowing the governor to maintain command and control of the Guard force.
The troops are assigned to the five CBP sectors in El Paso, Big Bend, Del Rio, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.
The border mission has steadily grown to include 1,100 deployed troops, with personnel and aviation assets from other states, including South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
The 72nd IBCT leadership is prepared and committed to continue the success of the 136th MEB.
“I am truly looking forward to this great opportunity for myself and the 72nd IBCT along with all the units supporting OGS. Any time the 72nd IBCT is selected to conduct a challenging mission, it is a great honor which we will make happen,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Rodrigo R. Gonzalez, Commander, 72nd IBCT, 36th Infantry Division.
Guardsmen assigned to Operation Guardian Support have taken on various support roles maintaining and repairing infrastructure, clearing vegetation, unloading and loading trucks at ports of entry, fixing emergency beacons, conducting aerial detection and providing logistical support, while CBP focuses on enforcing immigration law.
The 72nd IBCT’s commander has set forth a clear vision for his Guardsmen as the unit assumes control of the OGS mission, which is currently funded until September 30, 2018.
“My three priorities are to conduct and accomplish the mission to support CBP throughout the Texas border areas, provide support to the three OGS Task Forces so they can execute the mission and improve Soldier readiness and collective training readiness while Soldiers and units are on mission,” said Gonzalez.
Operation Guardian Support consists of Task Force Anzio, Task Force Salerno, Task Force Defender and Task Force Aviation, which also includes Operation Secure Texas, a separately funded Title 32 border mission that launched in 2014 as a coordinated effort between the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure Texas’ border with Mexico.