Garrison commander to relinquish position, take on new job at Fort Bliss
By DAVID BURGE | El Paso Times, Texas (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 3, 2017
The garrison commander at Fort Bliss will soon be changing jobs, but he won’t be going too far away.
Col. Mike Hester, a 49-year-old Massachusetts native, will relinquish his position leading Garrison Command at 10 a.m. Friday at the Fort Bliss museum complex, 1735 Marshall Road.
Hester will move across the installation and serve as the chief of staff for the 1st Armored Division’s rear detachment. He will be succeeded by Col. Steve Murphy.
About 400 to 500 soldiers from the division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion and Division Artillery are deploying to Iraq this summer. The soldiers who remain behind are known as the rear detachment.
Hester said commanders always feel a bit sad when they relinquish their positions, but he is looking forward to being part of the 1st Armored Division staff and staying at Fort Bliss for at least another year.
“It will be a lot of fun,” Hester said. “Everything you need to learn about the Army you can learn from the movie “Bull Durham” – ‘I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help the ball club.’”
Hester brings a wealth of experience from a 27-year Army career.
During the past two and half years, Hester has served as the Army equivalent of a city manager. He oversees a brigade-level command of about 3,000 soldiers, civilian employees and contractors.
Garrison Command is responsible for infrastructure, emergency services and quality of life and support programs across the installation.
“We are a city within a city,” Hester said.
While Fort Bliss is home to more than 30,000 active-duty soldiers, another 30,000 troops, mostly National Guard and Reserves, come through Fort Bliss each year for training and administrative support before they deploy around the world, Hester said.
“It is a busy, interesting job,” said Hester, an armor officer by trade. “It is unlike anything I have done in the military.”
The Army is a “people business” and as garrison commander, he has been able to touch the lives of “a bunch of soldiers and families,” he said.
As a longtime soldier, Hester said he took for granted many of the things Garrison Command does behind the scenes to keep an installation running smoothly.
“This is a whole part of the Army I didn’t know existed,” he said. “If you are not on the garrison side of the house, you take it for granted that people are paving the roads. You take it for granted that people are fixing the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). You take it for granted that people are making targets for tank gunnery.”
Hester and his family have enjoyed their time in El Paso and Fort Bliss and are thrilled they get to stay on.
“We love El Paso,” he said. “We have met some really good friends, both on and off post. I have been to many posts and have yet to see the type of community relationship that we have here.”
Brig. Gen. Mark H. Landes, a deputy commanding general at Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division, will serve as the division’s rear detachment commander.
Hester “has been and will continue to be a tremendous asset to the Army, Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division,” Landes said.
“I am glad that Mike is staying here at Fort Bliss and he is going to make an excellent addition to the 1st Armored Division staff,” Landes said.
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Holschbach said Hester is a “soldier of soldiers,” who knows how to simplify complex problems, develop leaders and get buy-in from his troops.
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