There is no easy answer to this question, but this article will explore several possible answers. The first three answers in this series indicate the duties of Texas National Guard commanders. These three views are: that the commander controls the entire unit; that he or she is a coordinator or supervisor of subordinate units;, and that the commander coordinates and directs the activities of subordinates.
Commanders in the Texas National Guard run all units, even when it seems that they are not being actively deployed.
In the event of a major disaster, the commander is usually given permission to temporarily suspend operations. If a disaster has been declared in advance, or if it occurs in the middle of the deployment, then the commander can continue to operate. He or she will be given immediate orders to make plans for operations once back on duty.
So, why does the commander have the ultimate authority over the Texas National Guard? To understand this, it is necessary to understand the state of Texas. All national guardsmen stationed in Texas are under the command of the governor or lieutenant governor.
To put it another way, Texas is the only state that has a separate and distinct constitution which defines the structure of its military. Thus, there is no single law which governs the operations of a Texas National Guard.
Generally speaking, the commander’s duties can be divided into those which are direct and those which are indirect. Direct duties include carrying out the orders given by the governor or lieutenant governor. These orders may be given on any topic, and they cannot be exceeded. The orders can be overridden only by a vote of the entire members of the Texas National Guard.
The indirect duties of the commander are those which fall outside the scope of direct control. These duties include conducting a military review and assessment of each unit, implementing and evaluating policy and procedures, and maintaining the unit’s morale and motivation levels.
All of these indirect duties are necessary and can be handled by the commander only. He or she can delegate authority to subordinate officers, but the delegated authority must be strictly defined and it must not conflict with any existing Texas National Guard law. Otherwise, the direct duties of the commander become ineffective.
The responsibility for commanding the Texas National Guard rests solely with the governor or lieutenant governor.
If the governor or lieutenant governor becomes incapacitated, the power to command the Texas National Guard shifts to the secretary of the state of Texas, in this case, Ann Richards.
When this happens, the secretary of the state of Texas can transfer the duty of commanding the Texas National Guard to anyone in the state who has some legal training, experience in military affairs, and sufficient knowledge about military operations. Some examples of this type of person would be Secretary of State Delafield Duckworth, Lt. Governor Barker, and Attorney General John Cornyn.
There are some states that have no specific laws governing the structure and management of the Texas National Guard. In these states, the responsibility for commanding the Texas National Guard is left to the governor of the state, but he or she is not the sole decision maker.
- Each state’s governors are given great latitude to direct the work of the state’s guardsmen.
- If the governor is incapacitated, the task falls to the secretary of the state of Texas, and the secretary can delegate his or her authority to officers of the Texas National Guard.
- The general rules governing the responsibilities of Texas National Guard commanders are those set forth in the Texas Constitution.
- As a result, there is no definitive list of who is in charge of the Texas National Guard.