Amid fierce criticism from the same soldiers she was tasked to lead, Texas governor Greg Abbott fired the first female Texas Guard military commander, Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris. Within 72 hours of Norris cleaning out her desk, two more of the Guard’s top leaders voluntarily resigned.
After having served only five months in the position, Maj. Gen. Charles Aris, commander of the Guard’s 36th Infantry Division, has been replaced by Brig. Gen. Win Burkette. After 34 years of service, Abbot said Aris had made the sudden and unexpected decision to retire, but he failed to mention the level of duress that may or may not have been involved.
Maj. Gen. Tom Suelzer who just this week replaced Norris as the Texas National Guard’s head cowpoke said, “I thank General Aris for his more than three decades of service to our country, and for his leadership both overseas and at the Texas Military Department.”
Having little choice due to Joe Biden’s lackadaisical approach to the Texas/Mexico border problem, Abbot deployed thousands of Texas Guard troops to the border to the tune of billions of dollars, where they remain still.
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The troops say the mission is a flat-out disaster. Some of them are jammed into tiny overcrowded trailers while others have taken to sleeping outside on the ground. After one year they’re still crapping in the woods, eating lousy food, and several of them who’d had enough of the horrible conditions let their own selves out via suicide, which led to a congressional investigation.
When Gov. Abbot announced that Maj. Gen. Norris was being replaced by Maj. Gen. Suelzer, Norris’ civilian chief of staff, retired Maj. Gen. James “Red” Brown, said “no f*****g way” and chose to hit the high road with his former boss.
A spokesperson for the department, Col. Rita Holton, said via a brief email, “We thank [Brown] for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors.” Despite the man’s distinguished career, he received one sentence.
Three of the Guard’s top officials being swept under the rug in one week can only mean that Abbot has heard and is responding to the avalanche of criticism. There’s also a unionization effort underway from some of the troops that the good governor would prefer to not see happen as it would limit his ability to deploy the troops at times when they might be needed the most, so his concern makes good sense.
Spc. Hunter Schuler who works with the Texas State Employees Union’s Military Council is optimistic. “This is a great sign that MG Suelzer is committed to real change in the leadership. We hope that these changes will percolate down the chain of command to the benefit of all soldiers.”
Abbot’s shuffling around of the Texas Guard’s leadership has shockingly brought renewed hope to State Rep. Alex Dominguez, a liberal Democrat from Brownsville who’s been vocal in sharing his criticism of border conditions so that ain’t just nothin’…
“These changes reflect a recognition of the failures of previous leadership and a newfound sense of responsibility for the well-being of our soldiers on the border. I hope that our new leaders in these positions are better stewards of the public trust. Our service members, and our state, rely on them for safety and success.”
At least Gov. Abbot is taking a swing at the growing problem so big kudos to him. Whether his ongoing efforts are only the result of unwanted criticism or that he was previously unaware until the problem was brought to his attention, doesn’t matter to the troops. All they know is they’ve been living in worse conditions than the people they’ve been capturing. And all they care about is being treated with the dignity they’re entitled to be.
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