As of Monday, Texas’ embattled top general was replaced amid criticisms of the state’s border security operation.
Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris was appointed the Texas adjutant general in January 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott. Her appointment technically expired on February 1, but she continued to serve in the position as Abbott had not appointed a successor.
In recent months, Norris has come under fire for problems plaguing Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security initiative that has placed National Guard forces and Department of Public Safety officers along the state’s southern border with Mexico. Since launching last year, OLS has been criticized for being poorly planned “political theater,” all while personnel reported problems with pay and poor living conditions, on top of other issues that have come to light.
Norris has also been criticized as being a “toxic leader.”
“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,” said Abbott. “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.”
Suelzer previously served as the deputy adjutant general-air for the Texas National Guard.
“I am not surprised that MG Suelzer was chosen as the incoming adjutant general,” retired Sgt. Maj. Jason Featherston, former senior enlisted advisor to TMD, told Texas Scorecard. “He is smart, and I trust he will listen to the troops and prioritize pay and equipping problems with Operation Lone Star. MG Suelzer has inherited many problems from MG Norris; retention is at an all-time low, mental health issues have skyrocketed.”
“He will need to appoint qualified leaders in primary staff positions to solve the problems left behind,” Featherston added.
The Texas Military Department consists of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. All are under direct control of the governor.