Members of the Texas National Guard have been seen on campus carrying weapons and conversing with students, but their presence is no cause for alarm. In fact, the personnel seen were training for an operation that would ensure the protection of both the campus and the city.
“We were training to do a presence patrol,” Captain Duane Hale, Company A, 5-112 Armor, said. “The unit was activated for contingencies with Hurricane Dean and we coordinated with the university to do training tasks we’d normally do during a hurricane situation.”
Had inclement weather actually affected Huntsville, the soldiers in Hale’s division would have been responsible for helping people solve any issues they had during the storm, leading the way to needed resources and providing a structured presence in the community.
“To conduct the training exercise, soldiers were basically meeting and greeting as they went across campus,” Hale said. “We’ve always been on and off campus. Sometimes we support the ROTC with the use of some of our equipment, and a lot of our soldiers are actually Sam students as well.”
No other training exercises of such a high degree are planned for the remainder of the semester, Hale said.
“We’re in the process of standing down, and when the resources from the Texas border are completely taken back, the soldiers will be released back to their civilian occupations,” he said. “We’ll just have a recruiter present on campus, working from his office there.”
Hale said training for the presence patrol benefited those that participated.
“Soldiers enjoyed getting out stretching their legs,” he said. “They’ve been in the armory for a while, so it was good for them to do a little bit of training.”
The exercise, Hale said, was part of the guard’s second role as a division of the national armed forces, which is to protect the country from national disasters
“We have a dual mission. We fight our nation’s war, but we also react during national disasters in support of the state government, and that’s what we were doing,” he said. “We were training to improve the skills that would allow us to complete that mission.”
For more information on Hale’s division, visit http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/5-112ar.htm.