News: Pittard briefs El Paso leaders on Bliss’s future
Story by Spc. Valerie Lopez
EL PASO, Texas - Over 500 Military, civic and business leaders gathered at the El Paso Convention Center Oct. 15, for the State of the Military Address.
The address is given annually by the Fort Bliss commanding general to update the community on current operations and his vision for the post’s future.
Richard Dayoub, president and CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, welcomed everyone to the meeting, and introduced the Fort Bliss color guard from 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Spc. Randy Holmes, a vocalist for the 62nd Army Band, sang the national anthem, followed by Maj. Gale Cotton, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade chaplain, who gave the invocation.
Gus Rodriguez, chairman of the board for Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, introduced and welcomed Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, Fort Bliss commanding general.
Pittard thanked everyone for attending and informed the audience of Fort Bliss’ training, quality of life, innovation, and partnering initiatives with El Paso.
“The future of the Army is here,” said Pittard.
Fort Bliss is a world class Power Projection Platform, said Pittard. The post has deployed 200,000 service members to combat operations since 2001. Currently, over 2,000 Bliss-based soldiers are serving in northern Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our vision for Fort Bliss is to be the Army’s premier training area for joint, special operations and combined arms maneuvers.
Fort Bliss is the centerpiece of Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization Effort. The equipment on tomorrow’s battlefield is tested at today’s Fort Bliss.
In addition to expanding our training facilities such as ranges, urban villages; we are also improving our wellness facilities, said Pittard.
Pittard detailed plans for the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center—a $1 billion facility scheduled to open in 2016—and other medical and dental clinics.
“Our MWR continues to grow to support the entire Bliss population,” said Pittard. “With the construction of six child and youth services centers, state-of-the-art fitness center, community activities center and much more.”
One of the biggest projects is the new Freedom Crossing which will have a grand opening on Nov. 5. The PX and Commissary will only be open to DOD ID card holders. Pittard invited El Paso area residents to dine in the food court, shop at the concession area, and enjoy the 10-screen movie theater.
Pittard addressed the housing shortage to the crowd which included real estate developers, bankers, and elected officials.
“The majority of our incoming soldiers will be junior in rank—privates, specialists, sergeants—and they deserve affordable housing,” said Pittard. “We will be building [housing] like crazy.”
Pittard invited El Pasoans to Fort Bliss tours where local residents and tourists will come on post to see history and experience modern military training.
The post is going green in several ways.
We are committed to using renewable energy: wind, solar, geothermal, said Pittard.
“By Dec. 31, 2015, we want to produce as much energy as we consume,” said Pittard.
On Oct. 1, the post initiated a campaign to plant 20,000 trees to improve the aesthetics and air quality around areas abundant with people.
In summer 2011, the 1st Armored Division colors will arrive and Fort Bliss Headquarters will move to East Bliss which will be re-designated as Main post. The current main post will be renamed as Historic Fort Bliss.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsored several outstanding soldiers at the luncheon for who exemplify Army Values and solid citizenship. Pittard recognized them in his speech and they each received an ovation.