Thoughts while working out in the gym
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard,
1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:
1/1 AD, 212th Fires Brigade, and the Division DTAC are sharpening their staff planning skills and warfighting capabilities in the second week of the Brigade Warfighter Exercise. The exercise is going great and is allowing us to train at all levels of our organization. From company command posts to brigade TOCs to the Division DTAC, all systems are being exercised.
One highlight of the training last week was 1st Brigade’s Consolidated Separate Response Cell run by 1LT Zachary Blume and 2LT Aaron Bodine. These young officers are simulating company TOCs and company movements and performing above the expected standards for Battle Command Post operation.
Members of the 212th Fires Brigade, meanwhile, have adopted brigade commander COL Hamilton’s philosophy of “anticipation and aggression” as the cornerstone of conducting WFX operations. The brigade’s 72nd BSB is not only participating in the WFX, but also performing EDRE (Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise) operations and doing a great job at both!
PFC Micah Morse, an AFATDs operator for HHB/212th Fires Brigade, has been an integral part in the exercise. He spent last week building the exercise database for the AFATDS system, the vital capability for controlling fires throughout the division.
This weekend, we had acts of courage and honor from two Soldiers within our formation. A recently redeployed Soldier sought out his first-line supervisor to report his feelings of overwhelming anxiety. Things had gotten so bad for our Soldier, he felt he was a risk of hurting himself. He did the honorable thing and sought help. This young Soldier had the intestinal fortitude to seek help along perhaps the darkest road in his life.
The Soldier’s supervisor is a hero here. He is such a caring leader, his Soldier knew that he could confide his feelings of overbearing depression in him. This leader took immediate action, knew exactly what to do, and brought in the right people to take care of a troop in need of assistance.
Both the Soldier and the supervisor may have staved off tragedy for themselves, their unit, and their family.
When I heard this story, I felt perhaps we have done more than we know to establish a culture where Soldiers feel comfortable in getting help when they need it. It takes resolve to seek support and it takes great leaders to establish a climate wherein Soldiers know they can reach out when they need to.
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, SFAAT Update
After nearly four months, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, “Highlanders” are continuing their successful Security Force Advise and Assist Team mission in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces. Embedded with Afghan National Army and Police units, the Highlanders are assisting commanders to build their force capabilities and effectiveness in order to establish sustainable security by a pending 2014 withdrawal of U.S. troops. SFAAT teams are also enabling Afghan forces to take the lead in combat operations and improving coordination and communication among uniformed branches.
Recently, Sergeant Michael G. Walker from 4th Brigade, demonstrated the spirit of combat partnership when he exposed himself to enemy fire in order to assess and provide care for two wounded ANA soldiers. He provided life-saving resuscitation measures to a wounded ANA soldier after his heart stopped beating, while coordinating for MEDEVAC. Both ANA Soldiers lived, thanks to Sergeant Walker.
Fort Bliss is setting a new standard for wellness, fitness and health in our community and beyond as we shift our culture to one of “Seeking Help” and building greater resilience. Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, an Army initiative, is being implemented with vigor here. We have over 34 programs all designed to prevent, intercede, treat and optimize all 5 dimensions of strength for our Soldiers, Family Members and DA Civilians. Those dimensions are: Physical, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual. We are even extending our efforts to our El Paso brothers and sisters through improved volunteerism efforts and other outreach endeavors. Our unique Wellness Fusion Campus spearheads this effort.
The Wellness Fusion Campus lies between Cassidy Road, Jeb Stuart and Ricker road on West Bliss and beginning 24 September we’re expanding with an East Bliss Annex with ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) education for all incoming Soldiers at Iron Sides Village and a 24-hour fitness facility, Milam Gym. Maybe you noticed our post-wide resilience campaign with messages played over the speakers at the post gas stations, posters in our MWR facilities and periodical articles in the monitor.
You can also learn more from the Wellness Fusion Campus web site https://www.bliss.army.mil/wellnessfusioncampus/, FaceBook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-Bliss-Wellness-Fusion-Campus/127470757345477 and Twitter feed http://twitter.com/WellnessFusionC. You can also call the Campus Headquarters with questions at 568-3489.
This past weekend the German Air Force Command Air Defense Center place was packed for the 2012 Oktoberfest. On Friday night, Brigadier General James Dickinson, commander of the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Commander officially “tapped” the barrel with a giant swing of the hammer onto the spicket. The German Air Force personnel were fantastic hosts and the food was phenomenal! The traditional folk music reminded me of my time in Germany. Our German friends engaged in traditional German dance routines, complete with tree logs and axes. The festivities lasted well into the night and picked right back up the next day. Part of the ticket price was an authentic German Bier stein which is a great memento and centerpiece for my home decor.
Team Bliss 10-Milers
This year, like every year, Fort Bliss is sending a men’s and women’s team to Washington, D.C. to compete in the annual Army 10 Miler on October 21. Unlike in previous years, we are also sending a Master’s team, consisting of five 40-and-over runners and led by Staff Sergeant Lawrence Smith from HHBN, 1AD. Mr. Brandon Gangstad, Troop Schools Manager, the Team Bliss Ten Miler coach, is pushing the teams hard.
These Soldiers have been training since July and now, with four weeks to go, our runners are ratcheting up their training, putting in 60 miles a week along some of the most grueling hills El Paso has to offer. Based on historic race times at the Army Ten Miler, the men’s team, lead by Specialist Kyle Butler, an intel analyst assigned to 1/1 AD, should finish in the top three in the active duty men’s division. I expect the women’s team, lead by Captain R. Catalina Rosales, a company commander in the 11th ADA Brigade, to finish in the top three as well.
Reducing our Carbon Footprint
Many of you have heard me talk about the environmental campaign plan for Fort Bliss. This plan is all about reducing our carbon footprint and becoming Net Zero on energy, waste and water as an installation. The impact this will have on Fort Bliss and El Paso will range from lower utility bills to cleaner air to solar jobs on-post. This is about doing the right thing for our community and our children. We have lots of exciting plans and programs, many of which are already in place, which involve emplacement of solar panels, recycling programs, and harnessing wind power.
You, as a member of Team Bliss, can help this effort by reducing your own carbon footprint. While it probably does not make sense for you to emplace solar panels around your house and most of us cannot afford a hybrid car, there is a lot we can do within our Families to reduce our carbon shoe size without cost. For example, in your home or apartment, try switching from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs. Compact florescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than our normal light bulbs and last much longer. Compared to regular bulbs, the fluorescents are more expensive, but they will eventually pay for themselves due to lower energy costs.
I enjoyed riding my bicycle, alongside 400 other cyclists, as we participated in the USO Oryx Challenge Bike Tour, 100K and 30K. It was great to see so many people from the greater El Paso and Fort Bliss communities show up to support our Fort Bliss USO – the largest USO on any military installation in the United States. This was the second annual Oryx Challenge and we look forward to next year’s tour. Cycling is an overall great form of exercise, so I hope to see more cyclists join us out on the roads of Fort Bliss. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have decided to ride the seven-mile loop from my residence to the 1AD Headquarters two to three times a week.
Fort Bliss Triathlon
The Oryx Challenge was great training for next weekend’s Fort Bliss Iron Soldier Sprint Triathlon, Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 a.m. at Replica Aquatics Center. The race will consist of a 400M swim, a 17.2 mile bicycle route, and a 5K run. Registration is open – go to www.active.com or you can visit Soto or Stout Fitness Centers to register in person. The race is free for active duty, $45 all others, and $65 for teams. For more information, call 744-5790. I hope to see even more El Pasoans come on out and ride, run, and swim with us!
Well, back to the gym …
Be combat ready, be fit, be resilient, and be Iron Strong!
Iron Soldiers – A Bias for Action!
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