Texas Gov. Fires Top Military Guard Gen. Amid Controversy…but the Root of the Problem Is in D.C.

Carrington Tatum

Members of the Texas Guard have been complaining for months about their deplorable living conditions at the Texas/Mexico border. Dozens of them are jammed into tiny trailers and many of them have found better comfort by sleeping under the stars with nothing protecting them from the elements. The refugees they’ve been tasked with detaining are living better than they are.

After two suicides by disheartened troops, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has fired Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the leader of the Texas Military Department. Norris is being replaced by Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Suelzer, the Texas Air Guards’ former leader.

A co-published report by Military Times and The Texas Tribune attributes the border issues to expanding the mission too quickly without proper preparation. Identical issues were encountered when the same troops were deployed during Hurricane Harvey.

In February, a Texas Military morale survey not meant for public viewing was leaked. Those surveyed expressed extreme dissatisfaction with their treatment as well as frustration with the entire mission.

In his public statement, Abbott sidestepped any mention of criticism for Norris. After having faithfully served in the role for seven years, he instead thanked her. 

“General Norris faithfully served the Texas Military Department with dignity, as Adjutant General beginning in January 2019, as Assistant Adjutant General in 2016, and over her decades of service,” he said.

“I thank General Norris for her exceptional service to the State of Texas and am honored to appoint her successor, Major General Thomas Suelzer, as the Adjutant General of Texas.”

“General Suelzer brings a wealth of military experience to this new role, and I am confident that he will uphold the integrity of the Texas Military Department and exemplify servant leadership throughout every aspect of this position.”

A staunch critic of Abbott’s every move, Democrat Rep Veronica Escobar from El Paso said she’ll believe that positive change will take place only when she sees it. She boldly stated on Twitter, “Maj. Gen. Suelzer, please let me be the first to say: Send our Guard members home.”

As Democrats tend to do, if one opens their mouth they all have something to say. Abbott’s challenger in the November election, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, seizing the golden opportunity, dumped every bit of the missions controversies in Abbott’s lap.

“You can switch Generals, but we all know where the buck stops. Greg Abbott took 10,000 Guard members from their families, jobs, and communities,” he said.

O’Rourke had just been warming up when he added, “He has treated them with incredible disrespect as he has delayed their pay, cut their tuition benefits in half, and used them as political pawns in his re-election campaign. It’s time to bring them back home.”

Perhaps the buildup of Guard troops at the border was hastily done without enough advanced preparation, but Abbott had little option, and Norris got stuck with the mess. If anyone is to blame let’s take it to the top and pin it on Joe Biden.

This entire mess began when he took office and shelved the border issue, instead, turning his focus towards building roads and bridges. It consumed all of his time while refugees, well aware of Biden’s weakness, poured across the border in record numbers without enough manpower to stop them. 

What was Abbott to do? What was Norris to do? In response to O’Rourke’s half-cocked statement, we say, “The buck stops with Biden.” Doesn’t it always?