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New Texas Guard brigade commander will work on homeland security issues

Col. Rick Noriega

Colonel Rick Noriega, a former Texas state legislator and Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2008, was promoted to the brigade commander in the Texas Army National Guard of the 71st Theater Information Operations Group. 

Col. Noriega will continue to serve as national president and CEO of Avance, Inc., a community-based organization that offers early childhood education, and parenting and comprehensive family services to predominantly Hispanic families, said a statement from his wife Melissa Noriega.

Melissa Noriega currently serves as chair of the Houston City Council Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, while Col Noriega will be work directly on issues related to homeland security in his new command, said the statement. Melissa Noriega became the first Texas spouse to serve in her husband's stead in the Texas Legislature, as a result of a special constitutional amendment, when Colonel Noriega was called up to serve in Afghanistan in 2004, it said.

With the new command, Col. Noriega will supervise about 400 men and women serving in units in Iraq, Afghanistan, along the Texas border, and in disaster operations, said the statement. The unit's duties include psychological operations, military deception, operation security, and electronic warfare, it said.  The central responsibility is to manage information flowing into command centers so that it can be used effectively in military planning, it said.

Colonel Noriega is a Houston native with an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston, a master's degree in public administration from The Kennedy School at Harvard University, and a certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government at Texas A & M University.

He has served in the National Guard and Army Reserves since 1980.  In Afghanistan he was commander of the Kabul Military Training Center for Afghan forces.  This new command assignment follows Col. Noriega's posting to the U.S. Army War College for one year through a University of Texas fellowship, to receive additional education as a senior-level officer.