CG’s Commentary

Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland

Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland

Maj. Sean B. Macfarland, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:

Unit update: 1/1 AD
The “Ready First” Combat Team is currently closing nine combat outposts and tactical infrastructure sites in support of the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan. Afghans are assuming security responsibilities, as they should. After turning in or transferring some 19,000 pieces of equipment, the brigade will transition its area of operations in September to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment out of Vilseck, Germany.

Spirits are high as the brigade begins to redeploy – family members are attending reintegration classes and Soldiers are looking forward to some well-earned down time.

But, the mission is not over yet and there is still much work to be done. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Ready First as they complete a tough combat tour in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

Comprehensive fitness
Beginning Aug. 7, only military ID card holders (all types) will be authorized access to FMWR fitness centers and pools. Additionally, hours at these facilities across the installation will change. The good news is that from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. you can still train at a fitness center on post and from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. you can still swim at an installation pool, any day of the week.

These changes are based on the current rates of utilization at each of these facilities. The usage during very early morning and very late night hours simply did not make it cost effective to remain open at those times. Unfortunately, we are in a fiscal crisis, so we can’t afford to be inefficient. Additionally, Fort Bliss facilities are funded by the government for Soldiers, family members, retirees, and DA and DOD civilians, and not for the general public. So, we have to check ID cards to ensure the wear and tear of our facilities is due to usage by the intended beneficiaries.

On the positive side, these changes will provide more than $200,000 in savings each year, which we will apply to other recreational programs and facilities such as the new Warrior Zone Fitness Center on Far East Fort Bliss, the Soldier Activity Center, the McGregor Range Recreation Center and other needs. The changed hours are listed below:

Visit the barcode at the bottom of this page for a complete listing of hours of operations for all fitness centers and pools across Fort Bliss.

Iron Focus
First Armored Division’s Iron Focus exercise is off to a great start. The Soldiers and leaders of the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the “Bulldogs,” are working hard to get as much training as they can out of this exercise so they can be as prepared as possible for their National Training Center rotation in Fort Irwin, Calif., and their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The value of the exercise is not limited just to the Bulldog Brigade. Just about the entire 1st Armored Division, as well as many other units on Fort Bliss, is participating in the exercise in some capacity. The division staff is benefiting from playing the role of higher headquarters, of course. The 212th Fires Brigade, serving as the control element for the exercise, is getting some great training as well. The “Gunstone” Brigade is applying Army doctrine to all training events, observing operations, and refining their own staff functionality. Fourth Brigade, meanwhile, is providing OPFOR and role players. Second Brigade is providing some observer controllers as well. The 15th Sustainment Brigade is participating in a supporting role, but is also using the exercise to certify the 142nd Combat Support Sustainment Battalion for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The “Iron Eagles” of the 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade are supporting the “Bulldogs” with Apaches, Blackhawks and Chinooks. The 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, the 80th Civil Affairs Battalion, the 93rd Military Police Battalion and the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron (USAF) are all in support, too. So far, it’s been an excellent exercise.

The Fort Bliss Bugle
This edition of the post newspaper will be the last under the appellation, “The Monitor.” We are transitioning the look and the name of this publication next week. On Aug. 1, in conjunction with my State of the Military Address to the El Paso community at the Fort Bliss Centennial Club, we will roll out the first issue of “The Fort Bliss Bugle,” complete with a fresh design.

Until its displacement by electronics, the bugle was essential to all military communication, both in garrison and in the field. From 1849, when this installation was built, until the early part of the 20th century, the life of a Soldier on Fort Bliss was regulated by bugle calls; breakfast, lunch, dinner, sick call, church service and training were all announced by the sound of a bugle. We’ve obviously advanced our ability to communicate. Although we still use bugle calls for ceremonies, we now can now also communicate with secure radios, the Internet, TV, cell phones and video-teleconferences. It’s important, however, to recall the great history of Fort Bliss and the Army as we move toward the future. So, we’ll continue using “The Bugle” to communicate with you about important issues on Fort Bliss and in El Paso.



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