Amid recent problems plaguing Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” mission at the Texas-Mexico border—including reported unsanitary working conditions, continual pay delays, and suicides—the Texas Military Department’s commander and chief executive officer has told struggling troops to think twice about sharing the issues with the public.

Texas Scorecard has previously reported on and continues to investigate a situation at the Texas Military Department where officials have not promptly paid Texas National Guard troops deployed at the southern border as part of Gov. Abbott’s recent special mission.

“I’ve had one soldier who went 42 days without pay. He was finally paid on October 11, but they’re saying that this next round of pay could be not until after November,” a source within the TNG told Texas Scorecard in October. “They’re having rampant amounts of pay issues.” At the time, the source described morale within the TNG as “horrible.”

“They have a bigger issue than admitting it seems in putting data into CAPPS so their folks can get paid,” wrote Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar in an email last fall.

Last weekend, as troops’ frustrations have continued and the problem has been exposed in the media and by Abbott’s political challengers, Texas Military Department Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris sent an email to department members.

“Many of you received an email from an Army Times reporter. While no regulations prevent you from talking to reporters, the most expedient way to resolve any grievances is still through your chain of command,” Norris wrote. “Please give your leadership the opportunity to fix your issues, if that doesn’t work you have various resources available to you. We trust each of you to have the best interest of your brothers and sisters to your left and right at heart and will continue to protect classified and operational information.”

“They wouldn’t have sent this email in the first place if going to the press wasn’t working better than [chain of command],” replied one citizen on social media.

“’We trust that you have the best interests of your brothers and sisters at heart’ — Uh, yeah that’s why you should go to the press,” another added. “The ones to my left and right don’t have three rockers on their chest. They’re regular … people who can’t afford to go months without pay.”

“I hope this sparks legit change. Only way to heal this wound is to rip off the band-aid and show what’s really going on to the rest of the state,” one individual commented.

“This is embarrassing and I say that as someone who has served in a TXARNG PAO position in the past,” another replied.

Lt. Col Allen West, former Republican Party of Texas chairman and current Republican candidate for governor, criticized Abbott, the operation’s ultimate commander.

“This falls squarely on the shoulders of the person that ordered the commencement of Operation Lone Star, and that’s you, Gov. Abbott,” West said. He also called on Maj. Gen. Norris to resign.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.