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Profile: Randy Castillo

Employee Profile: Randy Castillo
TDCJ, Army careers go hand in hand for CJAD Field Services specialist

Castillo standing in front of building in army fatigues
U.S. Army Major Randy Castillo readies for another overseas mission. When he's not deployed, Castillo works as a Field Services specialist for the Community Justice Assistance Division.
Photo courtesy of Randy Castillo
Randy Castillo has been a Field Services specialist for the Community Justice Assistance Division since 2000. Since 1985, he has been an Army reservist. His two career paths do accommodate each other, however.

A 1988 graduate of West Texas State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration, Castillo worked for eight years as a community supervision officer before joining TDCJ-CJAD. Castillo also holds the rank of major with the 321st Civil Affairs (CA) Brigade in San Antonio where he is an assistant plans/operations officer. His first overseas tour sent him to Tuzla, Bosnia in 1999. From May 2003 to February 2004 he was in Afghanistan. He’s not expected to return from his latest tour to either Iraq or Afghanistan until June 2006.

The CA branch manages most of the rebuilding coordination in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, Castillo acted as a team leader in charge of five other soldiers for an area the size of the Texas Panhandle. Their work entailed finding reconstruction projects of interest to coalition forces. Castillo and his team coordinated, contracted and monitored the building of numerous wells, bridges, schools and a university in Bamian. Such teams assist military commanders by cooperating with civil authorities during peacekeeping and combat to minimize the impact of military operations on local populations.

Castillo said his daily duties fit a pattern.

“On an average day I visited a local village leader for breakfast, inspected ongoing projects, ate lunch with a provisional governor, and had dinner at an elementary school’s groundbreaking or grand opening,” he said.

To promote rapport with the local population, the Army trained all team members in the Arabic, Dari and Pashtun languages.

Castillo describes Afghanistan as a beautiful country with more positives than negatives. The valleys are lush with apple orchards, potato and wheat fields, and farm animals. Most of the water comes from natural springs that dot the country.

The Hazaran people, direct descendants of Genghis Khan, populate Central Afghanistan. Castillo describes them as hospitable but tough.

“I visited an elementary school in Fatmasti, a place barely on any map,” he recalled. “The first, second, and third graders sat outside having classes under a tent. They sat on dirty rugs and shared a limited number of textbooks. Despite the cold wind, torn clothes, and almost barefooted state, these people with puppy-sad eyes had walked miles, ascending mountains (two hours one way) in the snow to attend school. Occasionally, a child could ride a donkey to school; that meant the family was wealthy enough to spare the animal from chores for a day. Although limited in resources, these people offered me tea, and the children remembered to express thanks for a previous visit when the CA refurbished the schoolhouse. I took pictures of this experience because I want my daughter to be aware how different her life could be.”

Castillo and his wife, Leticia, have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Izabella, and make their home in Elgin.

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