State Rep. Rick Noriega, whose imminent deployment to the US-Mexican border as part of President Bush's plan to bolster the patrol with National Guard troops has been discussed here before, talks some more about what lies ahead for him.
Noriega, D-Houston, had just returned from 14 months in Afghanistan last year when he was recalled to active duty for Hurricane Katrina. Houston Mayor Bill White asked that he serve as "incident commander" at the George R. Brown Convention Center after the Reliant Astrodome overflowed with New Orleans evacuees.
Then, after Hurricane Rita hit southeast Texas and western Louisiana the next month, Noriega was deployed to help set up shelters.
"I just hope and pray that we don't have a hurricane," Melissa Noriega said this week. "I don't think there is anyone who has a better perspective, or who would be a better choice, to deal with what goes on at the border. Rick is experienced and measured and he has a light touch. He will do a great job. I just hope they don't need him in two places at once."
Members of the Texas Army National Guard recently completed hurricane preparedness training, Noriega said.
"This brings a significant challenge for the state," he said. "There are different needs for the Guard in different sectors of the state. Are we getting stretched too thin? I think that's a legitimate question.
"Gov. Perry is the commander in chief of the Texas Army Guard, and it is his responsibility to say 'We can do these missions' (or) 'We can't do those missions,' " he said.
He added, "If you ask a soldier, the soldier is always going to say, 'We can do the mission.' If you ask a politician, he is always going to say ,'I defer to my ground commanders.'
"I just hope that, at the time you have people deployed in the Valley, you don't have to evacuate people from another part of the state," Noriega said.
As for his feelings about being sent to the border, Noriega noted that he "wears two hats" as a soldier and a politician. "Putting on my 'public official' hat, I think that a lot of this exercise (patrolling the border) is terribly transparent," he said. "It is political. I will just leave it at that."
UPDATE: State Rep. Aaron Pena welcomes his colleague to his neighborhood.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 27, 2006 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack