Last week, colleagues and I from the Defense Orientation Conference Association, traveled to the greater El Paso area to visit Fort Bliss, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. All three installations share common borders, and all three are, in a word, huge, both in land-mass and air-space, providing each of the three, tremendous capacity for training and testing.
Talk about huge, Fort Bliss is four times the size of Fort Hood, so large in fact, that each of its Brigade Combat Teams has a separate exit off the main highway! And modern, as billions in construction dollars followed 2005-BRAC personnel gains, when the First Armored Division and other units were moved there. On a recent visit, our Defense Secretary apparently termed Fort Bliss, the (quote): "premier installation in our military." No question, it's impressive, but speaking for the closer-to-home-team, so are Fort Stewart, Hunter, King's Bay, MCAS-Beaufort, and Parris Island! Holloman Air Force Base flies the F-22 Raptor, as well as training aircrews to remotely-fly Predator and Reaper UAVs. Final stop, the Army's White Sands Range, the site of our first A-bomb detonation, still with totally-restricted air-space, understandable since a key mission there is testing our missiles, rockets, and bombs. So then, two general observations: Our troops and capabilities, overall, continue to provide the world's best, most powerful military, for which we can all be thankful. And with another BRAC likely near-term, the available acreage at Holloman and Bliss makes even further relocations there likely. Selfishly, realizing how welcome and important our region's installations and units are to us here, time once again to get darn serious about preserving what we have, and growing where we can.