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The monthly magazine of the Texas Military Forces February 2012

Texas Soldiers guard Afghanistan PRTs 6 36th ID Change of Command 10 Oral rabies vaccine dropped in South Texas 13

Chemical Soldiers Headquarters change of command

In the Dispatch: 4

Texas chemical Soldiers share best practices


HHD change of command


Texas Guard provides security for Afghanistan PRTs


State, federal agencies response and capabilities


State agency bridges gaps in Joint Force

10 36th ID uncasing ceremony and change of command



12 Texas Guardsmen at pre-mobilization platform 13 Oral rabies vaccine dropped in South Texas 14 Facebooking responsibly 15 Band of bloggers- Vantage Point 17 Shooting straight- 117 qualify expert 18 News briefs 19 Military History- Texas MOH recipients 2 THE DISPATCH February 2012

Facebooking? Cover- The color guard and Soldiers salute during the 36th Infantry Division change of command, Saturday, Jan. 21, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. Josiah Pugh, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The Bulletin Board ‘Ticking Bomb’ View of Veterans Erroneous

Many of veterans saw a report in the media last week which characterized veterans as “ticking bombs.” In an effort to combat this perception the VA responded with a VAntage Point Blog entry by Alex Horton. Horton’s article puts the issues in perspective by adding context and facts that were absent from the original article. Horton’s blog helps dispell the narrative that veterans are ticking bombs, primed to explode. Read Alex Horton’s full article on VAntage Point at

Checking Benefits Online

The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have jointly developed the eBenefits portal as a single secure point of access for online benefit information and tools to perform multiple self-service functions, such as checking monthly benefit rates, filing a claim, or checking its status. Veterans may enroll in eBenefits and obtain a Premium account by verifying their identity in-person at the nearest regional office or online depending on their status, or calling VA’s toll free number at 1-800-827-1000. Servicemembers may also enroll in eBenefits using their Common Access Card at any time during their military service, or before they leave during their Transition Assistance Program briefings. Visit for more information.

Congress Looks Into VA Backlog Issue

The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs recently held an oversight hearing to evaluate if the current disability rating systems at the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are best serving America’s veterans, or if the systems are outdated and need to be updated to reflect today’s veterans’ population. The claims backlog and rating system is one of the most common complaints made by veterans about VA. Opening statements and a webcast of the hearing are available at

Join Us: Military Spouse Summit

The Spouse Summit, scheduled for March 2-3 in Arlington, VA, is a first-of-its kind event aimed at informing and empowering military spouses. The Summit brings together subject matter experts to address the most pressing issues facing military families today. Whether it’s learning how to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of career or education goals, or how force restructuring could affect military pay and benefits, the 2012 Spouse Summit will cover the substantive issues which are crucial to maintaining the mental, physical and financial health of our military families. Get more information at

Photographs Sought for Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is collecting photographs of the more than 58,000 American servicemembers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The photos will become part of The Education Center at The Wall, a multi-million dollar visitor’s center slated to open in November. For more information or to submit a photograph, visit The Education Center at the Wall website at or call 202-393-0090.

Vol. 7, No. 1 February, 2012

Governor Gov. Rick Perry

The Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols Director of Public Affairs Col. William Meehan Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Amy Cook

Public Affairs Deputy Director Maj. Deborah Molnar Public Affairs NCOIC Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson Public Affairs Staff Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon Staff Sgt. Eric Wilson Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain Spc. Maria Moy John Thibodeau Laura Lopez Managing Editor Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson Contributing Writers and Photographers Lt. Col. Clarence Henderson Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright Staff Sgt. David Bruce Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain Staff Sgt. Eric Wilson Sgt. Josiah Pugh Spc. Jennifer Taylor Laura Lopez Ashley Fowler

* The Dispatch is an authorized publication for members of the Texas Military Forces and the Department of Defense. Contents of the Dispatch are not necessarily the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, the National Guard Bureau, the State of Texas, the Adjutant General’s Department of Texas, or the Texas Military Forces. * The editorial content of this publication is the responsibility of the Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Officer. * Printed by Kinko’s, a private firm in no way connected with the U.S. Government under exclusive written contract with the Texas Military Forces. * The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts or supplements, does not constitute endorsement of the products or services advertised by the U.S. Army or Kinko’s. * Everything advertised in this publication will be made available for purchase, use, or patronage without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user, or patron. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher will refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. * Content is edited, prepared and provided by the Texas Joint Military Forces Public Affairs Office, Bldg. 10, 2200 W. 35th Street, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas. 78703.

Texas chemical soldiers share capabilities, best practices Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego Joint Task Force 71 Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas - When disaster strikes, first responders and military support units must work quickly and decisively to contain the incident. This requires coordinated efforts and effective communication to ensure these disparate agencies present a unified force to engage the catastrophe.

In preparation for such an encounter, the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 71 met with their active duty counterparts in Fort Hood to share what the two teams bring to chemical defense fight. “We discussed their capabilities and how they might be able to assist us in our DSCA mission,” said Craig Parkhill, Defense Support to Civil Authorities coordinator for Joint Task Force 71. “We also discussed some of the unique problems or challenges that they might find at a DSCA mission. It gave us some good indications on what we

have and what they have and how we can bring those together.” The 2nd Chemical Battalion, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, consists of three chemical companies and a headquarters detachment. As the active component of the Army family, their mission differs from that of the National Guard because it is federal and designed to engage overseas conflicts. The homeland response force mission of Joint Task Force 71 is one of direct support to civilian agencies and the first responders.

Lt. Col. Christopher Cox, commander for the 2nd Chemical Battalion, said: “I believe there are lots of training opportunities and lots of opportunity to grow together as two organizations that are attempting to achieve the same end states and share some of the best practices. In a large-scale event, we will probably need all of our re-

sources to be able to interoperate between each other. I think that it’s great that we have the opportunity to talk to each other.” The two Army units did more than talk as they spent all of January 26 showcasing capabilities and establishing a long-term communication plan in the event they ever need to work alongside each other. “We got to see their equipment, see how they operate,” said Maj. Mikel Sledge, operations officer for JTF 71. “We also saw how we were similar in the make-up and compilation of their decontamination line, for instance.” A key discussion point of the day’s tour was shared training opportunities between the two chemical units, and other military assets with whom JTF 71 has met recently. “We can send soldiers to Marine training,” said Sledge. “We can send people up to active duty training up here at Fort Hood, and so that opens up a lot of opportunities for us in the future.” While JTF 71 had much to learn from its active duty sister unit, it also has much to offer in terms of bridging the gap between the active Army and civil authorities. “We bring to them a closer relationship with the civilian counterparts,” said JTF 71 commander, Col. Lee Schnell.

Joint Task Force 71 leadership meets with the 2nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Hood to share best practices and discuss chemical capabilities.

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“At the end of the day,” said Schnell, “it’s about saving lives. It’s about what we can do for the first responders.”

Texas Joint Force Headquarters Change of Command In a military tradition that dates to the 18th century, Maj. Heather Flores, commander for the Texas Joint Force Headquarters passes her unit's "colors," the unit guidon, to Brig. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, Assistant Adjutant General, Texas Army National Guard. The ceremony marks Flores' completion of her assignment as the commander of the Joint Military Forces' Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. Following the passing of command responsibility, Flores, from El Paso, received a Meritorious Service Medal for her achievements during her assignment. (Photo by Spc. Jennifer Taylor.)

Texas Guard unit provides security for Afghanistan-bound reconstruc

By Army Staff Sgt. David Bruce Atterbury-Muscatatuck

EDINBURGH, Ind. — The notion of security for Americans may entail locking our homes and cars, questioning whether our children are safe or if our bank accounts have been hacked. For an Afghan, that notion could be expanded to include stumbling upon a roadside bomb or militants with hostile intent. For the people of Afghanistan and the troops deployed there, security takes on added dimensions and is a serious concern. Providing security for the next rotation of Provincial Reconstruction Teams falls to 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne), composed of National Guard Soldiers from Alaska, Rhode Island and Texas. The mission of the security force is to allow the PRTs to be successful in their mission, said Army

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Lt. Col. Shawn McGrath, of Lacoste, Texas and commander of the 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne). The security elements provide the tactical expertise to allow the specialists of the PRTs to oversee various projects in the reconstruction efforts under way in their assigned province, he said. By providing freedom of movement for the PRTs and Afghan people, the security force enables the PRT to meet their goals. “Each of the PRTs have a tactical advisor embedded with them to assist with decisions involving security and force protection,” said McGrath. The PRTs are joint service units drawn from the Air Force, Army (both active and reserve components), Navy and National Guard. Each PRT is

ction teams assigned to a specific province in Afghanistan with the function to act as a bridge between the Afghan government and the people. Working with the other branches can pose challenges as the Navy and Air Force have their own way of doing things, but McGrath says it has been a positive experience working with the other branches. “They have a wide variety of command experiences,” said McGrath. “There are ship commanders, F-16 and F-18 pilots; a lot of different backgrounds. We try to help the PRT commanders develop their own command environment to ensure they have a successful mission.” To prepare the battalion for their mission of providing security for the PRTs, McGrath said his troops were receiving updated counterinsurgency training, cultural training, running operations, convoy security and patrols. “We receive constant updates from units in Afghanistan, so we can focus on what is current there,” he said. “Normally the

train-up for a deployment is 45 days. We have 70 days to maximize and refine our training for Afghanistan.” Army 2nd Lt. Timothy Manges, of Killeen, Texas, platoon leader with the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne), said that his noncommissioned officers are a key factor to his platoon’s strength. “We couldn’t do this without the experience of our noncommissioned officers, some of them have had three or four mobilizations,” said Manges. “We have a pretty good team. The experienced noncommissioned officers help facilitate the training and help the younger Soldiers learn and know what to expect downrange.” Manges said his platoon would be operating in the Kabul area. “This is truly a counterinsurgency operation,” he said. “We will be interacting with people around the forward operating base and establishing friendships, but at the same time we have to be able to respond quickly to threats.” McGrath says developing these relationships are key to building stability in Afghanistan. “I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a successful Afghanistan,” said McGrath. “The important thing is to give them a system that is sustainable. If we give them things that they cannot maintain, then those tools are ineffective. We want to give them systems that can carry Afghanistan into the future and at least return them to prosperity that

existed in the early ‘70s before the Soviets.” To provide the security necessary for the PRTs to accomplish their mission, Manges said that the battalion has been split up. “Each PRT has a rifle platoon assigned to it from the battalion’s line companies,” he said. To fulfill their mission of providing security to the PRTs, the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne) received training on patrols, both in vehicles and on foot, improvised explosive devices, first-aid, using biometric devices, weapons training, counterinsurgency doctrine, cultural understanding and language training, said Manges. With the world marking the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan on their respective calendars, that far-off event doesn’t change the mission for the Soldiers of the 1st, 143rd Infantry (Airborne). “We are going to continue our mission,” said Manges. “In any conflict you have a political and military aspect. My goal is keep my guys focused on the mission and let the powers-that-be worry about the rest. I’m going to do everything I can to get my guys home safe.” Above- Soldiers with Headquarters Company 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne) of the Texas Army National Guard prepare to assault a suspected improvised explosive device lab encountered while on a foot patrol during training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., Jan. 14, 2012. The Texas National Guard battalion has been tasked with providing security for the next rotation of Provincial Reconstruction Teams bound for Afghanistan this spring.

State, federal agencies establish continuum of response and capabilities Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright Joint Task Force 71 Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Over the last several decades, the United States has developed an array of homeland defense measures aimed at ensuring the safety of our citizens from the forces of man, as well as providing measures for recovery from incidents and accidents that arise from the forces of nature. During the first week of January, members of state and local civilian and military emergency response agencies within Texas met with the United States Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force to develop a deeper understanding of capabilities and limits inherent to each group. Members of the Texas National Guard Joint Task Force 71, recently certified to conduct the Homeland Response Force mission for FEMA Region VI, attended the conference along with the San Antonio Fire Department and Hazmat team, the Austin Fire Department and Hazmat team and the Texas Department of Emergency Management. Day one of the two day conference included face-to-face introductions and informational briefings; organizations discussed their respective histories,

training events and real-world missions that highlighted the use of available state and local resources. “These conferences allow us to be more knowledgeable of our partner agencies abilities,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael Rockwell of JTF-71, “in addition to developing relationships with one another as individuals. The CBIRF brought in a federal component this time. That familiarity will hopefully make the merging of our groups a more natural occurrence should we be called upon.” The CBIRF representatives expressed similar sentiments after meeting with their Texas Guard counterparts. "These are great for us because we learn what the capabilities are at the state level, the local level and also what that particular FEMA office has to offer,” said Marine Col. Peter Ahern, commanding officer for CBIRF. “At the federal level, we have found when a group comes out to describe what we do and how we do it, show where we can integrate with the local incident commanders, the level of understanding is much deeper.” The USMC CBIRF, headquartered in Indianhead, Md., has a primary mission of countering the effects of a chemical,

Soldiers and Airmen with Joint Task Force 71 meet with members of several state emergency management agencies and the United States Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force.

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biological, radiological, nuclear or highyield explosive incident, mirroring the state mission of the 6th CBRN Task Force and 6th Civil Support Team of JTF-71. One of the most significant distinctions between the two resources is how, when directed, a CBIRF unit will forward-deploy to assist not just local, state, or federal agencies, but also the Unified Combat Commanders in locations outside the U.S. in the conduct of consequence management operations. “We are not only a domestic force," said Ahern, "we also have an international mission where we support the geographic combat commanders. We did that for the first time this past spring when we supported Pacific Command and U.S. forces in Japan in response to the Japanese tsunami and the nuclear reactor crisis in Fukushima." The following day, those assembled participated in a tabletop exercise simulating a tornado impacting the city of San Antonio with compounding issues with an end result of improving coordinated response measures, streamlining processes and reducing duplicate efforts among the many groups. The exercise simulations included a large scale destruction zone partially contaminated with radioactive material and a leaking tanker truck, a need for immediate life saving efforts in that contaminated environment and a coordinated wide area search and rescue in uncontaminated environments. “From start to finish” said Cpt. Robert Kirkpatrick, logistics officer for the 6th CERFP, “we identified opportunities to improve coordination, communication and expectations within our organizations.” “The [exercise] was a unique opportunity for us,” Maj. Mikel Sledge, 6th CERFP Operations Officer, “to train not only with our state agencies and partners, but training with the CBIRF helped to better educate us on what their capabilities are in the event they are required to respond to a disaster in our region."

State agency bridges gaps in Joint Force Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain Texas Military Forces Public Affairs

CAMP MABRY, Texas - Diligently working at Texas Guard facilities throughout the Lone Star State is a cadre of state employees that aid and support the activities of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), which are collectively comprised of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, and the volunteer Texas State Guard. Initially established under the Republic of Texas, the Adjutant General's Department (AGD) continued operations after Texas entered the Union in 1845, and is currently the state agency responsible for "building repairs, grounds maintenance, environmental oversight and protection of the state and federal installations that house our National Guard members," according to the Adjutant General's Department Strategic Plan 2011-2015. Duane Waddill, the agency's executive director, explained their interconnectivity with the Joint Forces. The civilian professionals help administratively facilitate the domestic response when the state's forces are activated by the governor, and perform functions that range from facility management and security to state payroll and human resources. A twenty-year veteran of Texas state government, Waddill likened the agency he now manages to weatherizing caulk, in that it has the ability to provide a cohesive seal for TXMF activities. "Our flexible structure allows us to bridge gaps," Waddill said. "We can help fill in the cracks that naturally occur when the Army, Air, and [Texas] State Guard can't cross functions." Additionally, AGD activities include cooperative partnerships with the National Guard to rebuild trucks for units across the United States, help educate at-risk teens through the ChalleNGe program, as well as excite young minds to math and science through the STARBASE

program. Waddill discussed the value his agency provides the state, from a fiscal standpoint. "For a $10 to $12 million annual investment from the Texas Legislature [for the Adjutant General's Department], the state receives over $1 billion of benefit, in terms of economic impact from our activities," said Waddill. The Adjutant General of Texas, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, recently held an appreciation breakfast with the Command Group for AGD maintenance professionals on Camp Mabry, the state military's headquarters in Austin. At the event, Nichols expressed his gratitude, and thanked the workers for their years of service, noting that some have served over thirty years on behalf of the state. While the civilian employees of the Adjutant General's Department often operate in the shadows of the uniformed personnel that permeate the state's military units, the essential work they perform does not go unnoticed.

Officer Ian McPherson, a shift supervisor with the Adjutant General’s Department’s security forces, verifies the credentials of a visitor to Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas.

36th ID: return to duty, new commander Story and photos by Sgt. Josiah Pugh 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP MABRY, Texas– The 36th Infantry Division celebrated a successful deployment and welcomed a new commander during a ceremony held Saturday, Jan. 21, at Camp Mabry in Austin.

After three years in command and an historic deployment to Iraq, Maj. Gen. Eddy M. Spurgin handed the division’s colors to newly promoted Maj. Gen. James K. “Red” Brown. Brown served as rear detachment commander for the division headquarters during its deployment, and as the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander 10 THE DISPATCH February 2012

during a deployment to Iraq in 2005.

“I am proud to stand beside you,” Brown said to his troops. “Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.”

The 36th Div. headquarters is comprised of more than 700 Texas National Guard Soldiers. In December 2010 they deployed to Basrah, Iraq, where they provided command and control of approximately 8,000 active-duty troops in support of Operation New Dawn. The headquarters worked hand-inhand with Iraqi leadership in an effort to improve the security, safety, stability, and economic viability of Iraq’s nine southern provinces. With the Iraqi Security Forces, the unit conducted 570

tactical operations that resulted in the discovery of 127 weapon caches, the elimination of 200 roadside bombs, and the arrest of 465 suspected terrorists. “This time in command has certainly flown by quickly,” said Spurgin. “It seems like just yesterday I was sitting where General Brown is sitting now, preparing to take over the reigns of this great division.” “As commanders, we learn very quickly how bittersweet it can be to let go of a command, especially when they have been blessed, as I have been blessed, with outstanding Soldiers and a great staff.”

Opposite page- Former 36th Infantry Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Eddy M. Spurgin and Command Sgt. Maj. Wilson L. Early unfurled their unit’s colors during an uncasing ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. The ceremony marked the end of the historic deployment for the division.

Above- U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison congratulates the 36th Infantry Division for their outstanding work during a change of command ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. For her support of the Texas Military Forces, Adjutant General Maj. Nichols presented her with a decorated Apache helicopter propeller blade. The ceremony marked the end of the historic deployment for the division.

Right- Texas Military Forces Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John Nichols hands over command of the 36th Infantry Division to Maj. Gen. James K. Brown during a change of command ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. The symbolic passing of the division colors signifies the beginning of Brown’s command. The ceremony also marked the end of the historic deployment for the 36th Inf. Div. in support of Operation New Dawn.

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Texas Guardsmen training at pre-mobilization platform Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon Task Force Raptor Public Afffairs

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – With their wrenches in hand, guns at the ready and a classroom full of attentive students, the soldiers from Task Force Raptor braved the cold and pushed on with training at Camp Atterbury, Ind. The Texas National Guardsmen are at the mobilization platform preparing for their deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year. The men and women of the Task Force have been training on everything from vehicle maintenance to rescue operations. Mechanics from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop learned how to maintain and repair vehicle HVAC systems, much needed in the East African heat. They also worked on their general and preventative maintenance skills. For Spc. David Gray this was a great way to knock some of the rust off. “We’ve been working on exhausts, replacing batteries and doing all kinds of preventative maintenance. Some of this stuff I’ve done only once or a long time ago, so it’s a good refresher. Everyone on my team has been very helpful and instructive.” Gray and his fellow mechanics are responsible for the entire Task Force’s fleet of vehicles. “Knowing that our work keeps soldiers safe with reliable transportation makes me feel proud. I feel it’s a big

responsibility, but I’m confident that we’ll keep all the vehicles running and mission ready,” said Gray. In a different part of the camp, instructors from C Troop’s Uganda Platoon put these vehicles to good use at the mounted convoy operations portion of pre-mobilization training. Here they taught Soldiers skills in navigating through hostile environments while driving in their humvees. For instructor Staff Sgt. Ricardo Cantu, the exercise was instructive both ways. “When we’re up there teaching, it gives us practice and makes us feel more comfortable with getting up in front of people; and most importantly gives me a refresher on the subject I’m teaching.” The Texas National Guard instructors from C Troop will teach host nations’ militaries in the northeastern Africa region valuable skills. Skills that they themselves have learned to rely on and eager to impart. “I feel great going over there and knowing that if I teach them well, they will go home to their families, just like I will. These are basic skills, but can save soldiers’ lives; and it gives me great pride that we can go share our knowledge and experience with them,” Cantu added. Down the road at another range, the Site Security Team, also part of Troop, conducted rescue operations training. In this training scenario the team was inserted by helicopter and made their way to secure and retrieve sensitive items from a downed aircraft. Sgt. Joshua Everett believes this training is key to prepare them for the role they will play in Africa. “These tactics are the ones we will use should be have to recover any type of U.S. aircraft or personnel over there. This is the first deployment for many of the guys on our team, exercises like these prepare them for our mission.”

Whether they’re turning a wrench, carrying a weapon or teaching, the men and women of Task Force Raptor (3-124 Cavalry Staff Sgt. Sergio Zuniga from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) working on the fuel system Regiment) continue training and of a five-ton truck. Mechanics from the task force are honing their skills in preparation for preparing for their deployment. their deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year.

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Oral rabies vaccine dropped in South Texas Story and photo by Laura Lopez Texas Military Forces Public Affairs

ZAPATA, Texas – Members of the Texas State Guard joined forces with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as other local, state and federal agencies from January 3, 2012 to January 18, 2012 to participate in the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. With 1.8 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine expected to be dropped over portions of South and West Texas, Texas State Guard Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment provided both ground and air crew support that included navigational assistance, the operating and managing of the bait drop and the loading of the baits onto the aircraft. A program the Texas State Guard has actively taken part in since 2007, this is one of the many humanitarian missions they are proud to be a part of. “The 2012 ORVP mission will be an experience I will not soon forget,” said incident commander 2nd Lt. Stephen Walker, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment. “I was honored to work alongside fellow members of the TXSG, members of federal and state agencies and to serve the citizens of Texas. Such a mission truly gives the TXSG members a feeling of giving back to his or her community for such a worthwhile cause.” Originally initiated in 1995, with the goal of creating zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges of the epizootics, statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show animal cases of the canine strain of rabies in southern Texas fell from 122 in 1994 to zero in 2000 with

Texas State Guard member, Corporal Paul Petit of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, unloads a bag of bait to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.

single cases in 2001 and 2004. In addition the fox strain, prevalent in western Texas, dropped from 244 animal cases in 1995 to zero in 2010 and 2011. A mission Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas describes as important to the state of Texas, its citizens and to the Texas economy, he and other representatives from the Texas Military Forces and Department of State Health Services visited the command post in Zapata, Texas on January 6, 2012 for a first-hand look. This is another example of

how we can effectively work together with our partnering agencies and benefit our citizens at a time when no disaster is present,” said Smith. While the vaccine dose dropped is enclosed in a small packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fish meal crumbles, health services representatives say the baits do not pose any risk to humans and will not become established in the environment, making the Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program an exceptionally safe method of controlling rabies.

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By Ashley Fowler Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

EDINBURGH, Ind. — Facebook. It seems like everyone, and everything, has a Facebook page. From middle school students to U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, millions of people, businesses and military organizations log on to Facebook every day to share information, interests and news. For members of the U.S. military and other government agencies, Facebook makes keeping in touch with friends and family easier than ever. With a click of the mouse, Soldiers can communicate with friends in Japan and family in Nebraska, sharing any details of their lives and occupation that they please from wherever they are. This is, of course, where the problem with Facebook lies. Just as its slogan states, Facebook is "a social utility that connects you with the people around you." The section that Facebook appears to have left out of its slogan is the closing section that says, "to include total strangers, the guy that ran the stoplight this morning on Hospital Road, scam artists and a collection of individuals working against ongoing U.S. military interests." Everything Soldiers and family members share, including birth dates, vacation photos and even their exact geographical location, can be logged by Facebook applications and then accessed by hackers, identity thieves, and advertisers. For Soldiers, government employees, and civilian contractors, the information shared on Facebook can not only endanger personal privacy, it can put operations security at risk and endanger the lives of service members at home and abroad. In a social network like Facebook, even the most innocuous details of everyday life can be used against the Army. With just a bit of browsing on

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responsibly Facebook or other social media platforms, the enemy can easily gather valuable information about military officials, capabilities, troop movements and more. A 2011 estimate cited by the U.S. Army states that "98 percent of the intel Al-Qaeda collects is from open source," including social networks and blogs. Surprisingly, much of the information collected by Al-Qaeda and others come from some of the most innocent-looking items and people. A post by a tech-savvy grandmother about the details of a unit's upcoming deployment can lead to the accidental disclosure of sensitive information about troop movements. A photograph taken on a Smartphone in a combat zone and put on Facebook can provide opposing forces with exact locations of U.S. forces simply because the image is embedded with geographical data that Facebook uses to "tag" people and locations. Even personally identifiable information like phone numbers and names of relatives can give America's enemies enough information to compromise operations security and individual privacy. Although there are risks involved with using Facebook, YouTube or any other social media platform, there are real benefits to being online. By maintaining a social media presence, branches of the military, installations like Camp Atterbury and even individual units can share information, boost morale and strengthen relationships with the public. Facebook and other social media platforms let Soldiers show their support for the military while sharing photos or maintaining a virtual farm. For those deployed overseas, websites like Facebook aren't just for recreation, they provide Soldiers with an instant connection their friends and family back home, bringing them together

whether they are in Kabul or Kentucky. The key to using and enjoying Facebook at home or overseas without sharing personal or sensitive information is the same for Soldiers and civilians alike: privacy. The Army suggests using several strategies to make sure Facebooks profiles and the posts of Soldiers' friends and family help maintain OPSEC, including: • Adjust privacy settings to "private" or "friends only." • Remove any personally identifiable information that gives away too much information about you or your family. • Avoid sharing details about bases and capabilities by not posting photos of or details about formations, quarters, armored vehicles, and/or weapons. • Disable the GPS feature on your mobile device or turn off tagging or tracking applications on your Facebook account that give your exact location. • Educate yourself, your friends and your family about what is and isn't safe to share on Facebook or any other social networking platform. Facebook and its estimated 800 million users, along with dozens of other social media platforms, will continue to grow. Soldiers will find new ways to share their information and the little details of their lives with the world, but there will always be ways to protect the most sensitive information from reaching the wrong hands. Perhaps the simplest advice on how to maintain both operations and personal security comes from a passage in the 2011 U.S. Army social media and OPSEC guidance: "If you aren't comfortable putting the same information on a sign in your yard, don't put it online."

VAntage point

Engaging. Not a word which many Veterans typically use to describe their relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A more common word associated with VA and its interaction with Vets? Adversarial. It’s disappointing, but that’s the reality. For too many Veterans (and families), communicating with VA can be such a hassle that it affects the Department’s ability to carry out its mission of providing benefits and services to America’s former service members. If Veterans and VA are talking past each other—or not talking to each other at all, then two things happen: Vets don’t know what they’re entitled to or how to get it, and VA doesn’t know what needs Veterans have. At VAntage Point, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that same old way of communicating (or not communicating) goes out the window. Here, VA employees will provide Veterans with a wealth of information. We will talk about things you might not have been aware of and we’ll break down and explain processes which might have bewildered you. But it doesn’t end there. If you’re a student on the GI Bill, a Vietnam Vet, a VA employee, the spouse of a VA patient, or anything else, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute. We’ve opened the comments section of each of our front-page posts and we have a special section for “Guest Posts” where you can submit your own writing for publication. For us at VA, this is just a start. It’s the beginning of a new relationship between the Department and those we serve—where we strive to get the right information to the right Veteran at the right time. And we hope you’ll join us in making it happen. Today, more than ever, Soldiers rely on technology to bring the fight to the front lines. That technology doesn’t just include high-tech weapons, body armor or Blue Force Tracker. It also included web logs, “blogs,” that allow a more immediate glimpse into military life and history than ever before. Often funny, sometimes painful and poignant, these snippets of opinion, daily life, and commentary on war, the military, and life in general allow more people to see what our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are thinking, experiencing and fighting for.

A view from the front line

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Hiring Our Heroes / RecruitMilitary Veteran Opportunity Expo One of 100 hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses scheduled nationwide by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, March 1  from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Irving Convention Center


 IRVING, TX 75039

This event will be produced by RecruitMilitary in cooperation with The American Legion. For event details and directions, visit 16 THE DISPATCH February 2012

Shooting straight: 117 Soldiers qualify expert at AT Story by Lt. Col. Clarence Henderson 3rd Bn., 141st Inf. Reg.

From the beginning of warfare, an infantryman’s primary tool to accomplish any mission is his weapon, and today’s Soldier is no different. Without his rifle, he cannot accomplish the defeat of the enemy in close combat, often under extreme circumstances. The Third Battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, from Weslaco, Texas, recently completed Individual Weapons Qualification conducted at annual training at Camp Swift, near Austin, Texas, resulting in 117 Soldiers qualifying expert. This accomplishment started with preliminary marksmanship instruction conducted at home station during routine weekend drill periods. Company commanders such as Capt. Fabian Barrera, A Co. commander, strived to place assigned weapons into the hands of their Soldiers every drill, regardless of the task. “’Hands on weapons’ is the mantra and PMI [becomes] a matter of routine” said Barrera. Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction is led by small arms Master Gunners and always begins with educating Soldiers in the use of the

Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols and some of the 117 Soldiers of 3rd Bn., 141st Inf. Reg., 72nd, Infantry Brigade Combat Team who qualified expert on the M4 rifle during annual training at Camp Swift, near Austin, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Clarence Henderson, 3rd. Bn.)

“iron”sight. After that, Soldiers receive instruction from their NCOs on proper shooting positions and weapons manipulation. Sergeant First Class Rodriguez explained that Weapons manipulation is “everything you do with your hands,” said Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Rodriguez, with A Co., “the most important being keeping your weapon in action.” Arriving at Camp Swift, the first order of business was “zeroing” weapons. Zeroing sets each sight to a baseline and then adjustment are made to ensure every Soldier has an accurate sight picture. Each company used all their allotted time to obtain “tight” zeros. Finally, Soldiers practiced on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, a virtual marksmanship trainer, as much as possible. The EST 2000 stresses gunnery and tactical training, as well as shoot/don’t shoot training. This time around, the focus was not necessarily on firing itself but rather on obtaining a good shooting posture with all equipment on. “I firmly believe that the key to shooting well is simply getting your [equipment] organized. If you’re not shooting in the EST 2000 with full kit you’re simply playing a video game,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Krpec, battalion sergeant major. Once Soldiers completed the EST 2000 training, they moved to a “call forward area.” “We can’t sit our Soldiers in the [elements] all day and expect for them to maintain energy and focus,” said Lt. Col. Clarence Henderson, battalion commander. To make sure the Soldiers were kept out of the weather until needed, each Commander developed a call forward plan to continue weapons PMI under cover or indoors until time to occupy the range. When all was said and done, 117 Soldiers walked away qualified experts. “When it came time to qualify I can’t tell you how much I was impressed by the drive of our Soldiers” said Henderson. “We were afforded enough ammunition to shoot multiple iterations and the heat just simply did not hold anyone back.” (Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson contributed to this article.)

Find out how YOU can help a deployed Texas servicemember!! visit February 2012 THE DISPATCH 17

News Brief VA Announces Changes to Emergency Care Payment Policy WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today a change in regulations regarding payments for emergency care provided to eligible Veterans in non-VA facilities. “This provision helps ensure eligible Veterans continue to get the emergency care they need when VA facilities are not available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. The new regulation extends VA’s

authority to pay for emergency care provided to eligible Veterans at nonVA facilities until the Veterans can be safely transferred to a VA medical facility. More than 100,000 Veterans are estimated to be affected by the new rules, at a cost of about $44 million annually. VA operates 121 emergency departments across the country, which

provide resuscitative therapy and stabilization in life-threatening situations. They operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. VA also has 46 urgent care units, which provide care for patients without scheduled appointments who need immediate medical or psychiatric attention. For more information about emergency care in non-VA facilities, visit

VA Publishes Regulation on Newborn Care WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has published a regulation officially amending VA’s medical benefits package to include up to seven days of medical care for newborns delivered by women Veterans who are receiving VA maternity care benefits. “The regulation change makes formal the commitment VA made to women Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Erik K. Shinseki. “This falls in line with the broad range of services VA is proud to offer women Veterans who have served this nation.” Newborn care includes routine post-delivery care and

all other medically necessary services that are in accord with generally accepted standards of medical practice. The effective date of the rule is Dec. 19, 2011, but the regulation applies retroactively to newborn care provided to eligible women Veterans on or after May 5, 2011. VA has women Veterans program managers at every VA medical center to help women Veterans learn more about the health care benefits they have earned with their service. For more information about VA healthcare for women Veterans, visit

Wheelchair Games Registration Now Open for Veteran Participation WASHINGTON – Registration is open for the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world. More than 500 Veterans from across the world are expected to compete in the Games, taking place June 2530, 2012, in Richmond, Va. – the site of the very first National Veterans Wheelchair Games held in 1981. “The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are an outstanding event that showcases the abilities and determination of Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA is committed to providing world class care to our wounded heroes.” The Games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, are open to all U.S. military Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition

18 THE DISPATCH February 2012

due to spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, amputations “We’re thrilled to see the National Veterans Wheelchair Games return to Richmond after 31 years,” said Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Adaptive sports play a crucial role in getting people back into life after serious injury, and the Wheelchair Games are often a life-changing experience for our athletes, representing a unique combination of competition, rehabilitation and fun.” Competitive events will take place at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, Hanover Lanes Bowling Center, The Conservation Club of Virginia, Inc., in Charles City, Sports Backers Stadium, Mary Munford Elementary School and Byrd Park. The athletes compete in all events against others

with similar athletic ability, competitive experience or age. In addition to the competitions, the Games will include a "Kids Day at the Games” on Friday, June 29, at Sports Backers Stadium. Local children with disabilities will have the opportunity to interact with the athletes, participate in sporting events, and watch Veterans compete. Veterans interested in competing may download the registration packet from the Games’ website at www. or contact Marlene Pratt at (804) 675-5000, ext. 3969, or Kristin Windon at (804) 6755002. The deadline for registration is April 15. The public is invited to attend any of the sports competitions throughout the week of the Games, and admission is free.


Military History- February

- Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley attack Union troops commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby near Fort Craig in New Mexico Territory. The first major engagement of the war in the far West, the battle produces heavy casualties but no decisive result. This action was part of the broader movement by the Confederates to capture New Mexico and other parts of the West. This would secure territory that the Rebels thought was rightfully theirs but had been denied them by political compromises made before the Civil War. Furthermore, the cashstrapped Confederacy could use western mines to fill their treasury. From San Antonio, the Rebels moved into southern New Mexico (which included Arizona) and captured the towns of Mesilla, Doýa Ana, and Tucson. Sibley, with 3,000 troops, now moved north against the Federal stronghold at Fort Craig on the Rio Grande. At Fort Craig, Canby was determined to make the Confederates lay siege to the post. The Rebels, Canby reasoned, could not wait long before running low on supplies. Canby knew that Sibley did not possess sufficiently heavy artillery to attack the fort. When Sibley arrived near Fort Craig on February 15, he ordered his men to swing east of the fort, cross the Rio Grande, and then capture the Val Verde fords of the Rio Grande. He hoped to cut off Canby's communication and force the Yankees out into the open. At the fords, five miles north of Fort Craig, a Union detachment attacked part of the Confederate force. They pinned the Texans in a ravine and were on the verge of routing the Rebels when more of Sibley's men arrived and turned the tide. Sibley's second in command, Colonel Tom Green, filling in for an ill Sibley, made a bold counterattack against the Union left flank. The Yankees fell back in retreat, and headed back to Fort Craig. The Union suffered 68 killed, 160 wounded, and 35 missing out of 3,100 engaged. The Confederates suffered 31 killed, 154 wounded, and 1 missing out of 2,600 troops. It was a bloody but indecisive battle. Sibley's men continued up the Rio Grande. Within a few weeks, they captured Albuquerque and Santa Fe before they were stopped at the Battle of Glorieta Pass on March 28.

Texas Medal of Honor Recipients KNIGHT, JACK L.— Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Mars Task Force. Place: Near LoiKang, Burma. Date: 2 February 1945. Entered service at: Weatherford, Tex. Birth: Garner, Tex. G.O. No.: 44, 6 June 1945. Citation: He led his cavalry troop against heavy concentrations of enemy mortar, artillery, and small arms fire. After taking the troop’s objective and while making preparations for a defense, he discovered a nest of Japanese pillboxes and foxholes to the right front. Preceding his men by at least 10 feet, he immediately led an attack Single-handedly he knocked out 2 enemy pillboxes and killed the occupants of several foxholes. While attempting to knock out a third pillbox, he was struck and blinded by an enemy grenade. Although unable to see, he rallied his platoon and continued forward in the assault on the remaining pillboxes. Before the task was completed he fell mortally wounded. 1st Lt. Knight’s gallantry and intrepidity were responsible for the successful elimination of most of the Jap positions and served as an inspiration to officers and men of his troop. LAW, ROBERT D.­— Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company 1 (Ranger), 75th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place: Tinh Phuoc Thanh province, Republic of Vietnam. Date: 22 February 1969. Entered service at: Dallas, Tex. Born: 15 September 1944, Fort Worth, Tex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Law distinguished himself while serving with Company 1. While on a long-range reconnaissance patrol in Tinh Phuoc Thanh province, Sp4c. Law and 5 comrades made contact with a small enemy patrol. As the opposing elements exchanged intense fire, he maneuvered to a perilously exposed position flanking his comrades and began placing suppressive fire on the hostile troops. Although his team was hindered by a low supply of ammunition and suffered from an unidentified irritating gas in the air, Sp4c. Law’s spirited defense and challenging counterassault rallied his fellow soldiers against the well-equipped hostile troops. When an enemy grenade landed in his team’s position, Sp4c. Law, instead of diving into the safety of a stream behind him, threw himself on the grenade to save the lives of his comrades. Sp4c. Law’s extraordinary courage and profound concern for his fellow soldiers were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

February 2012 THE DISPATCH 19

Attention Motorcycle Riders Jason Pridmore’s

STAR (Skills & Techniques for Advanced Riding) Motorcycle School will conduct training for Texas Military Forces Soldiers & Airmen May 22, 2012 at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas at no cost to personnel registered to attend!

Riders must have 1 year of riding experience - Training is on a race track Completion of the basic or advanced riders safety course is recommended Individual Medical & Motorcycle Insurance is required Minimum of 250cc motorcycle, in good operating condition Proper Riding Gear including DOT or Snell approved helmet manufactured after 2000 Riding Suit or Leathers (limited number available at no charge through vendor) Training is open to all motorcycle types, from sports bikes to cruisers, except dirt bikes. Riders will bring their bike, all required PPE, and proof of insurance to training Contact: Ms Linda Bovee in the TXARNG Safety Ofice for more info or to sign up. 512-782-5005 or

The Dispatch  

The February 2012 issue of the Dispatch, the magazine of the Texas Military Forces.

The Dispatch  

The February 2012 issue of the Dispatch, the magazine of the Texas Military Forces.