Media and Political Attacks on National Guard at Border ‘Inaccurate, False,’ Says Texas Military

Members of the Texas National Guard assist Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and U.S. Border Patrol agents in Del Rio Texas. (Bob Price/Breitbart Texas)
Bob Price/Breitbart Texas

After weeks of what appears to be politically motivated criticism, the Texas Military Department fired back with an official response to questions over pay issues, housing conditions, and suicide incidents.

“After multiple failed attempts to correct the record with these outlets, the Texas Military Department wants to set the record straight to ensure accurate reporting on this mission,” Colonel Rita Holton, Public Affairs Director for the Texas Military Department said in a written statement.

“It is clear that reporters have gleaned information from anonymous sources and unverified documents, which have then been skewed to push an agenda,” Col. Holton explained. “Allegations relate to the state’s mobilization, deployment, and operations in support of Operation Lone Star.”

The Texas military says the “nebulous charges” that members of the Texas National Guard are not paid are “inaccurate.” Col. Holton reports that “every service member assigned to Operation Lone Star is being paid.” She admits there were some administrative challenges in the rapid spin-up of Operation Lone Star.

The Texas Military Department statement offers:

Following Hurricane Harvey, the agency conducted a thorough after-action review, which identified issues with the pay system the agency was using at that time.

Based on the review, TMD procured and implemented a new pay system for state active duty missions. OLS has been, by far, the largest onboarding of service members into the current state payroll system and will be the longest-running state active duty mission utilizing this payroll system.

This has given TMD the opportunity to identify gaps within the system, which are being actively addressed. Specifically, on Sunday, Jan. 16, Pay Strike Teams arrived along the border to support individual service members with pay questions. To date, approximately 75 percent of pay discrepancies have been resolved, to include, back pay for those who have been paid inaccurate amounts.

The state agency established a hotline for payroll issues. The number, 512-782-1234, is available 24/7 for the use of Guardsmen.

Perhaps the biggest issue being exploited for what appears to be political purposes relates to the suicides of members of the Texas National Guard.

Texas military officials processed more than 900 hardship requests in connection to Operation Lone Star, the statement reports. Seventy-five percent of these requests have been approved.

Colonel Holton said the media narrative that the Texas Military Department is systematically or routinely denied hardship requests are “false reports.”

“In regards to four service member deaths, there has been misleading and false information pushed to the public without proper context, irrespective of family sensitivities and desires,” Col. Holton stated. “Two of the four service members mentioned by outlets were mobilized in support of Operation Lone Star.”

Holton said that while the investigations are still underway, “there is no evidence to support an assumption that their decisions were made as a direct result of hardship denials.”

“It would be irresponsible journalism at this point in time to tie these tragedies to Operation Lone Star,” Col. Holton said.

Texas military officials met with members of the families and expressed that the family members wish to have their privacy respected at this time of grieving.

Texas military officials processed more than 900 hardship requests in connection to Operation Lone Star, the statement reports. Seventy-five percent of these requests have been approved.

During calendar year 2021, the Texas Military Department experienced a total of nine suicides out of their 22,000 members.

Holton also addressed the issues of equipment, living conditions and COVID-19 protocols.

“There have been inaccurate reports and social media posts attempting to malign and undermine Texas Military Department efforts to support our service members along the border,” the colonel added. “Our personnel are trained to operate and adapt in austere environments at home and abroad. As with any mission, we continue to adjust as the situation evolves.”

She reported that commanders identified areas for improvement in equipment and living conditions and are working together with vendors and supply chains to address the solutions.

Regarding COVID-19, Colonel Holton reported that less than one percent of the state’s military force is under quarantine or isolation. She added that Guardsmen have access to PPE, testing, vaccines, and antibody therapeutics. The leadership is conducting contact tracing as well for members who contract the COVID virus.

Colonel Holton added the following accomplishments of the men and women of the Texas National Guard assigned to Operation Lone Star.

  • Approximately 100,000 illegal migrants have been apprehended or referred to our partner federal and state law enforcement agencies;
  • More than 9,000 individuals, attempting to enter Texas illegally, have been returned to Mexico;
  • Significant drug and weapon seizures have occurred, including the lethal drug fentanyl;
  • And the ongoing construction of temporary barriers along the border is further deterring criminal activity.

Holton reports that the National Guard operations, working in conjunction with the Texas Department of Public Safety are establishing a “steel curtain of protection” for the public and private property owners along the Texas-Mexico border.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.