Training to Serve Texans on the Homefront

Story by:  Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer, ACC, PAO

Posted:  March 8, 2016

ground search
19th Regiment soldiers work alongside Lone Star Search and Rescue during ground search and rescue training at Hunewell Ranch, just north of Stephenville, Texas, January 23, 2016.  (Photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza, PAO, 19th Regiment/Released)

STEPHENVILLE, Texas - Over 300 Texas State Guard soldiers from 3 regiments conducted a combined joint task force training in the largest disaster exercise of the Army Component Command in Stephenville and Erath County, Texas, January 21-24, 2016.

The 2nd, 4th, and 19th regiments, Army Component Command, 3rd Battalion Texas Medical Brigade, and 3rd Battalion Texas Maritime Regiment, Texas State Guard (TXSG) partnered with Tarleton State University, the Erath County Emergency Management and the American Red Cross to train for any natural or man-made disaster that might occur in Erath County, Texas.

At this annual training the mock disaster event was a hurricane that spawned deadly tornadoes and caused widespread residential damage in Erath County.  Every

part of the training exercise mimicked, as realistically as possible, the movement, tasks, and duties of guardsmen that could occur during a real world disaster in Texas. 

“This mission rehearsal demonstrates our soldiers' abilities to support local emergency operations, run by local officials, during a natural or manmade disaster,” said Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Commander of the Army Component Command, TXSG.  “We are trained to provide skills such as mass care sheltering, emergency communications, ground search and recovery, distribution of food and water and staffing support to disaster district committees.” 

Following standard procedure, the soldiers began annual training by reporting to their battalions' home armories in North and Central Texas.  When the Army Component Command received the mission to deploy to Stephenville and Erath County, regiments moved to the check-in location at the National Guard Armory in Stephenville, January 22, 2016.

Each regiment used the check in as a training opportunity on how to use the Emergency Tracking Network (ETN) by checking in a fellow regiment.  In addition, soldiers also trained on ETN evacuation bus training.  These skills are important during an emergency to keep track of evacuees who travel on evacuation buses or check into a shelter. 

Mass care shelter management is another

important skill that the Texas State Guard can provide during an emergency or disaster.  Each regiment set up shelters in local schools and churches in Erath county as part of annual training.  Shelters offer residents a safe location where families can sleep, eat, and receive medical attention. 

Col. Kris Krueger, Operations Officer, Army Component Command, TXSG, sees shelter management as an essential skill for the TXSG.  "The TXSG can help residents and families during an emergency by providing shelters where basic needs can be met.  Our shelters will also help families to stay together in one location which is very comforting to Texans displaced from their homes during an emergency."

Soldiers also trained on the proper procedures to distribute food, water and other necessities during the mock disaster.  They set up points of distribution, or drive-through locations, where residents can receive with such items as food and water.  

The TXSG also trained on ground search and rescue. At Hunewell Ranch, just north of Stephenville, six-person teams, one from each regiment, learned how to find missing persons using line searches and search dogs from Lone Star Search and Rescue from Wylie, Texas, in heavily wooded areas of mesquite and fields of tall grass, weeds, and cacti.   

"Training in multiple skills assures that the TXSG is ready to deploy anywhere in the state when called upon during an emergency or disaster.  We are 'Texans Serving Texas,'" commented Command Sgt. Maj. Lloyd Schook, Senior Enlisted Advisor, Army Component Command, TXSG.

Emergency Tracking
Pfc. Caroline Bento places a wristband on Pfc. Matthew Bach, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, as part of the Emergency Tracking Network training in Erath County, Texas, January 22, 2016.  (Photo by Sgt. Larry Smith, 4th Regiment/Released)
Shelter Management
Soldiers from the 2nd Regiment review shelter management operations during annual training in Erath County, Texas, January 23, 2016.  (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/Released)