Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland
Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:
As most of you are probably aware by now, due to the restrictions of the sequestration, Fort Bliss will be unable to host the 2013 Amigo Airsho. As someone who has been stationed here previously and is married to a native El Pasoan, I certainly appreciate the great relationship the Amigo Airsho has established with Fort Bliss over the past 31 years. Unfortunately, military support to civilian aerial demonstrations is not allowed under the sequestration guidance established by the Secretary of Defense.
We hope to resume our support for future shows when the restriction is removed. Meanwhile, the Amigo Airsho will continue to look for alternate venues in the border region for this year and I encourage you to attend this great event.
Fort Bliss has been blessed over the past seven years with the largest expansion of an American military base in more than 60 years. As we continue our way through sequestration, a reduced budget, and a troop drawdown, it is apparent we are an installation and an Army facing a new reality. Next month we begin the unfortunate process of implementing furloughs for our civilian workforce. Our units not scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan have limited funding for training. Clearly, this is a time for humility and belt-tightening. While we all wish we could have made this happen this year, we certainly hope to reestablish our partnership with the Amigo Airsho in 2014.
Unit Update – 11th ADA Brigade
The 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has been hard at work over the past few months. 1st Battalion, 43rd ADA has been deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Enduring Freedom since December. Battery A, 4th ADA (THAAD) is currently deployed to Guam in support of a regional stability mission. The Imperial Brigade also has elements of 2nd Battalion, 43rd ADA deployed to Cherry Point, N.C., in support of Bold Quest, a joint, combined integration training mission. 5th Battalion, 52nd ADA is in reset following their deployment, but has been supporting a series of missions on Fort Bliss, to include providing assistance to German Air Defense units preparing for a live-fire exercise.
The brigade continues to emphasize a healthy work and life balance. The brigade held a volunteer recognition ceremony to honor more than 100 brigade members who have dedicated themselves to service in the El Paso and Fort Bliss communities. Chaplain (Maj.) Keith Andrews, brigade chaplain, spearheaded a leader’s marriage and resiliency retreat May 31. I’m excited to see the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade continue to expertly fulfill its missions, while taking care of its Soldiers and their families.
It’s all good
I have often heard Soldiers complain there is nothing to do in El Paso. The truth is there is plenty to do here. Across the installation, we must all get better at informing our Soldiers of all the activities in this great border city. The El Paso Visitors Bureau has made this easier with a website which can be reached at the barcode on this page. I encourage leaders to use the website as a tool, arming Soldiers and families with information about local attractions, music festivals, theatrical performances, and cultural celebrations.
This website is part of a larger campaign designated “El Paso. It’s All Good.” If you have not yet seen the billboards promoting this effort, you should probably get off the installation more often.
I would encourage all Fort Bliss Soldiers and families to browse the website and see what El Paso has to offer. There is something for everyone of every age here. Visitors to the website can sign up to serve as a “digital ambassador” to El Paso and receive information about local events through email updates. As an ambassador, you will also receive points toward exclusive events and prizes. For example, last week the El Paso Visitors Bureau gave free tickets to the Sun Music Festival to ambassadors who shared information through social media. This month, as an ambassador you may receive free tickets to the June El Paso Street Fest and gift certificates for the Oasis Bistro and Lounge.
Let’s establish a sense of community here during our tour at Fort Bliss. If you enjoy running as a hobby, join Run El Paso. If you have young children, take them to one of the many children’s exhibits at the El Paso Zoo. If you are a fan of standup comedy, go with your buddies to the El Paso Comedy Club. We are going to redouble our efforts to get the word out to our Soldiers and families and get them involved in the community.
Did you know every Thursday at the Soto Physical Fitness Center there are three chances to get in a full-body workout? The R.I.P.P.E.D. workout targets the whole body in an upbeat mix of resistance, intervals, power, plyometrics, and endurance all set to music. Soto PFC offers three classes every Thursday, at 9 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Remember next Friday, June 21 at 6:30 a.m., Replica Aquatic Center on West Bliss will host our Team Aquathlon, which consists of a 5k run, a 400 meter swim, and a 5k run. You can register onsite from 5:30 to 6:15 a.m. Brigades may form teams to compete for Commander’s Cup points. We’re hoping for a big turnout for this event.
Command Sgt. Major Kelley and I are making a short trip to Jordan to observe Exercise Eager Lion, an annual, multinational, joint computer simulation exercise. We will also take the opportunity to visit with the 1AD planning staff in Jordan. Upon our return, we will continue to make our way to all Fort Bliss units. We are incredibly impressed with the leadership and talent on this installation observed thus far. From squad to brigade, there are clearly a great deal of smart, plugged-in leaders and sharp, hard-working Soldiers.
We have Soldiers deployed all over the world, units training for impending deployments, and rear detachments back here on Fort Bliss supporting their organizations forward and taking care of families back. Our Garrison Command Team, Col. Dayley, the mayor of Fort Bliss, and his senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Barnes have assembled a great team of civilians and Soldiers who maintain our facilities at a very high level. I’m just starting to get my feet under me in command, and every day is a real thrill to serve such great Soldiers and civilians. Command Sgt. Maj. Kelley and I thank you for all you do every day for your country, your unit, your Family, and Fort Bliss.
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