FORT BLISS, Texas — Garrison commander Col. Brant V. Dayley is going through some serious mixed emotions as he nears the end of his latest assignment here and the prospect that he may never serve at Fort Bliss again.
He considers Fort Bliss and El Paso to be his "Army home," but for the first time in his 26-year career he has been geographically separated from his wife and family during a long-term assignment. They stayed behind in Virginia.
"This was the first assignment we opted not to move together," Dayley said. "It was a difficult decision and it was predicated on the fact my two older children are attending college in Virginia. On top of that, there was a great expectation that once I was finished, I would be reassigned to the Pentagon or the Washington, D.C. area."
Dayley, 49, of Stafford, Va., has served as the Garrison commander since May 2012. He will relinquish command on Friday to Col. Thomas E. Munsey, who most recently was a student at the Army War College.
Dayley's next assignment will be as a strategic fellow on the Army Chief of Staff's Strategic Studies Group. He will be able to live at home with his family and commute to Washington.
For Dayley, he is somewhat torn about this command change. He's excited about being reunited with his family in Virginia, but will also miss Fort Bliss and El Paso.
The Dayley family has strong ties to this area. His father, Wesley Dayley, was an air defender who served at Fort Bliss in the Nike Hercules missile system. Dayley followed in his father's footsteps as a soldier and has been stationed at Fort Bliss four times in his own career. Dayley's three children all attended school in the El Paso Independent School District at various times in their lives.
Dayley first came here as a young officer in 1988 and said this was the place where he grew up as a soldier and officer and raised a family.
"I came here as a brand-new second lieutenant, as a newlywed — two weeks married and three weeks as a lieutenant," he said. "(Wife) Nancy and I have had an Army career that has circulated and intertwined through El Paso. I'm very proud to have served Fort Bliss and to have served the (past two) senior commanders in this capacity (as Garrison commander). I will really miss El Paso and Fort Bliss, Texas, which are one in the same to me."
As Garrison commander, Dayley has been responsible for making sure that Fort Bliss, its soldiers and families have the necessary infrastructure, support and services. To translate the position to the civilian world, it's like being the city manager, he said.
During his latest tour here, Dayley served under two commanding generals — Maj. Gens. Dana J.H. Pittard and Sean B. MacFarland.
"Col. Brant Dayley has been a tremendous asset and leader to Fort Bliss," MacFarland said. "His enthusiasm for and management of Fort Bliss, which has grown tremendously, has been incredible. His personal involvement with veterans and Boy Scout organizations has been outstanding. Brant has served Fort Bliss and El Paso well and will be missed."
Previously, Dayley served as the battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from 2004 to 2006 at Fort Bliss. Both the battalion and brigade are now stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Dayley said it is unlikely he will be stationed at Fort Bliss again. As he reflected back on the last two years, he called it a challenging but rewarding time.
He became Garrison commander "right on the cusp of the fiscal downturn and later sequestration," he said.
"You look at it, and that's not really the time you want to be the Garrison commander," Dayley said with a laugh. "You find yourself in a resource-constrained world in order to provide the quality of life and the common levels of support everyone expects. We had to look very hard at our processes and procedures so we could be more efficient and more effective and fight the good fight to get the resources that we needed to sustain, improve and modernize."
Dayley also worked closely with 10 area school districts, the El Paso mayor and city manager's office, local legislators, veterans groups, the Boy Scouts, various nonprofit organizations and others. The idea was to strengthen Fort Bliss' already strong bonds to El Paso, he said.
"What I was trying to do was leverage the familial relationship that we have between Fort Bliss and the city of El Paso, because more hands make for lighter work," he said.
One of his proudest achievements was establishing regularly scheduled veterans summits to help organize veterans activities and build a stronger relationship between vets and the installation, he said.
He was also able to rekindle and strengthen old friendships and make new ones during his most recent stint here.
"The community I have been involved with during the past 25 months has been very rewarding," Dayley said.
David Burge may be reached at 546-6126.
•Education: bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology; three master's degrees - in operations research/systems analysis from the Florida Institute of Technology, in military operational arts and science from Air University and in national security strategy from the National Defense University.
•Awards: Legion of Merit (one oak leaf cluster); Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters); Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters); Army Commendation Medal (two oak leaf clusters); Joint Service Achievement Medal; and Army Achievement Medal (three oak leaf clusters).
Family: Married to Nancy, originally from North Bergen, N.J. Three children - Steven, 23; Katherine, 20; and Matthew, 14.
•Col. Brant V. Dayley will relinquish his position as Fort Bliss Garrison commander at 9 a.m. Friday at Memorial Circle, next to Pershing Circle and Sheridan Road.
•Col. Thomas E. Munsey will take over the position.
•Public can attend.