Texas State Guard Holds Disaster Training, Adjutant General Addresses Troops
Units of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) deployed to Brownwood this weekend for disaster training which involved local residents and organizations as well as visitors from out of town to help troops fine tune their disaster techniques.
According to Major General John F. Nichols, Adjutant General of Texas Military Forces, there were 429 involved in the training this Saturday and more will be coming next Saturday. Citizen soldiers of the Texas State Guard came to Brownwood to ready themselves for disaster assistance. Major General Nichols stated that this was exactly why they came to Brownwood, to train and to demonstrate to the citizens that the Texas State Guard is ready to help in all times of emergency and need.
“The town of Brownwood loves us and what I think, while you’re out here at your AT (annual training), it lets Brownwood know that the state of Texas, the Texas Military Forces, are here to help them if they need us to and if they don’t, then that’s fine too. They just have to have the knowledge that we are here to help them in time of need,” said Major General Nichols.
Nichols stated that the troops of the TXSG also help in day-to-day needs of Texas’ citizens and that some of them have even been deployed overseas. One thing most people don’t understand is that the Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces and that the TXSG is an unpaid military, which only gets reimbursed for some of their expenses while deployed but are not paid as active military. It is their calling and duty to make sure that Texans are kept safe, explained Nichols.
The scenario for the training was a disaster caused by a hurricane. Not only did the units deal with the movement of victims to shelters and their necessities such as food and water, but they were given unpredictable scenarios as well. Some volunteers played the roles of drunks, drug addicts and sex offenders and had to be separated from the general shelter population while in need of help themselves. Another part of the training included logistics, keeping up with volunteers and shelter occupants. Sometimes volunteers got lost and others had communication problems. These real world problems are part of the training so that when the real disaster is at hand, they will know what to expect, according to the Officer in Charge CPL Paul Petit.
Major Feagan, a Public Affairs Officer from the Dallas area, stated that this training teaches efficiency and minimized movement of disaster victims.
“The public appreciates at the time of need that we know how to get them in and out of there (whether it is evacuation or just providing necessities such as water),” said Major Feagan.
He explained that the Texas State Guard developed the Points of Distribution System (PODS), which has been copied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Also during the training, five members of the TXSG Rifle Team were presented special coins in recognition of their participation and winning of the 2012 Adjutant General’s Combat Rifle Match, a standard exercise held each year at Camp Swift. This is the second year in a row the TXSG team has won the competition against active duty military.
Rotary Club member and Executive Director of Disaster Aid USA Larry Agee of Lake Charles, Louisiana was also in Brownwood to help show volunteers and troops what his group had to offer in times of emergency. Agee was in charge of the Rotary Club project of the family survival box, which is an international relief effort. According to Agee, a family survival box contains everything a family needs to survive for up to a year, including a 25 sq. meter tent (which has three bedroom sections and a living area), blankets, pots and pans, dishes, tools to rebuild, a stove and water filter (which can purify 200 gallons of water per day). These tools and filters work with no electricity and helps a family survive a disaster, Agee said. These family survival boxes can be provided through a donation of $750 to Disaster Aid USA. The large filter, which can supply an entire village with clean water (10,000 liters/day), is available through a donation of $2000. Disaster Aid USA publishes details of survival packs and other equipment as they are deployed so that donors can see exactly what their donation was used for.
“We come to an area and fill in gaps wherever the Texas State Guard, or any other agency, needs us to fill in,” said Agee.
Agee explained that Rotary members actually set up the tents and leave them with the disaster victims for the long term, where other agencies may only leave tents for a few months.
AG Major General Nichols summarized that all people, even if they are from different countries, have the same goals during times of disaster.
“They are just like us, the just want to make sure their families are safe, that their kids have a good future and that there’s an economy they can stand by,” said Nichols.
That is the reason why the Texas State Guard does their annual training, to keep Texans safe, Nichols said.
Troops from different areas of Texas including Dallas, Houston, and as far away as Laredo participated in the training on Saturday. More from central and west Texas and an Air Wing of the Texas State Guard will join in the second Saturday of the Annual Training, June 30th. Teams worked on the disaster training at the Camp Bowie training facility, Brownwood High School, Brownwood Middle School, and the Boys and Girls Club.
Pictured above are Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) staff members call to coordinate volunteers.
Video and photos of the event are below.
Major General John F. Nichols, Adjutant General of Texas Military Forces addressing the troops.
TXSG Rifle Team honored by AG Major General John Nichols
Pictured in one of the shelter areas, Boy Scouts from Mission, Texas volunteer as disaster victims.
Troops taking a break for MREs at shelter area in Brownwood High School.
CMOC staff: Officer in Charge CPL Paul Petit, PFC E3 Barber, Staff Sgt. E6 Morris, SPC 4 Paulk and PFC E3 Bowman.