Abbott changing leaders at Texas Military Department

Gov. Greg Abbott is changing leadership at the state’s military department amid criticism over a border deployment that left some Texas National Guard troops without regular pay or a clear sense of the mission.

On Monday, Abbott announced he appointed Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Suelzer as the adjutant general of Texas, effective immediately. He replaces Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, who took the job in 2019 with an appointment that expired on Feb. 1.
In a statement, Abbott thanked Norris for her “exceptional service” and said Suelzer “brings a wealth of military experience to this new role.”

“I am confident that he will uphold the integrity of the Texas Military Department and exemplify servant leadership throughout every aspect of this position,” Abbott, a two-term Republican, said in a statement.

Abbott made no mention of the border mission, known as Operation Lone Star, which has faced backlash from some soldiers and his political rivals. The governor has repeatedly blamed Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration for failing to secure the border.

The governor’s office did not respond to questions about whether Norris wanted to continue in the job.

Last fall, Abbott deployed thousands of Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to put up temporary fencing and stop migrants. Soon after, reports emerged of problems with pay, a lack of equipment and a string of suicides within the ranks. In response, The Texas Military Department issued a morale survey and pledged to address the issues.

Suelzer previously served as the deputy adjutant general-air for the Texas National Guard at Camp Mabry in Austin.

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