Guests at a ceremony presenting the accreditation certificate for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) new Maritime Tactical Operations Group were treated to an awesome sight on Friday, as the TPWD offered a demonstration of the maritime capabilities of the “Texas Navy”.
For over 100 years, Texas Game Wardens have protected the natural resources of Texas, but over the past several years, they have been tasked with being at the front lines of the state’s border security. Now, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Boating Operations and Training (BOAT) present the Texas Game Wardens with a new task; as the “Texas Navy.” In the Coastal Bend, this means offering port security.
“What you see today is a representation of how the diversity of our fleet exists right now. The biggest change we’re seeing is how our role has shifted a lot from the traditional hunting, fishing, and commercial, to the actual protection of Texas through border security, said Major Game Warden Alan Teague.
“Over the last few years, with the legislature’s approval, we’ve actually increased the number of wardens on the border, and we now have an environment where we have a tactical team, with fully ballistic panels, machine guns and helmets. That’s the environment that we’re living in now.”
With this evolution and change in TPWD’s role, came the need for further training. NASBLA and the BOAT program partnered with the TPWD to establish a U.S. Coast Guard recognized national standard for the training, qualification, credentialing and typing of marine law enforcement and emergency first responders. This standardization ensured TPWD can interact with other maritime agencies as a force multiplier.
“It’s a significant accomplishment that not only assures the citizens of the state of Texas, but of the whole Gulf region and the entire country, that there’s a force multiplier down in Texas that we can call upon if we need it,” said Mark DuPont, BOAT program director. “I have the opportunity of going and seeing a lot of different places. I talk to a lot of different people who operate on waters throughout the country, and it always gives me chills to associate with organizations like this; where you just sense that there’s a culture of success.”