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Home team: Bliss garrison welcomes new commander, thanks Murphy for service

Home team: Bliss garrison welcomes new commander, thanks Murphy for service

Story by David Poe on 09/16/2019

Almost two years ago, Col. Steve Murphy, then the incoming Fort Bliss garrison commander, said he knew success in command would be a team effort. According to his remarks July 9, he couldn’t have been more correct.

Murphy, a career helicopter pilot, relinquished command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Bliss to Col. Stuart James during a change of command ceremony at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center on East Fort Bliss July 9.

Murphy, James, and their families were joined by Brenda Lee McCullough, the Army Installation Management Command-Readiness director; and Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Rocco, IMCOM Readiness Directorate’s senior noncommissioned officer; as well as Soldiers, government civilians, and friends for the morning ceremony.

The mission of the garrison workforce is rapid and efficient deployment operations, as well as providing facilities and services to promote readiness and a safe and secure installation. Bliss is home to almost 33,000 Soldiers, and including family members and civilians, approximately 100,000 live and work on the installation, comparing it to the population of Odessa, Texas. The garrison has an annual operating budget of approximately $300 million.

“It’s been a great, but very challenging two years in command,” said Murphy during his remarks. “We had three government shutdowns to plan for and execute, turnover in leadership in every directorate, expanding requirements as a Mobilization and Force Generation Installation, and it seemed like countless requests from outside agencies and organizations to use the Fort Bliss platform all of this in an era of decreasing resources in terms of budget and personnel.”

After growing up in the Army and making it a career, Murphy said his time as a garrison commander was especially eye-opening for him.

“I am an Army brat who has been to nearly every Army post over my 46 years,” he said. “Up until taking this job, I didn’t know about the professionalism and dedication we have in the garrison workforce. Two years into this gig, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with what they do on a daily basis and how privileged I have been to be a part of this team.”

Murphy received the Legion of Merit from McCullough for his work in command, while spouse Stephanie Murphy was recognized for her leadership as the garrison command spouse in support of families and quality of life at Bliss.

“Whenever you leave an organization, you want to leave it better than when you joined it I think we’ve done that,” Murphy said. “But you also want to transition it to a successor who you know will continue to push it forward. I know Stu James will be a great successor.”

During the ceremony, Soldiers from the 653rd Regional Support Group and troops and civilians from across the Fort Bliss community supported the indoor military ceremony.

James, his wife Kristin, and their family return to El Paso and Fort Bliss for this assignment. He is a former plans chief for the 1st Armored Division, the largest tenant command at Bliss, and the Armor officer has also served as a battalion commander under the 1st AD flag.

“It’s great to see so many familiar faces out there; old friends and wingmen in some ways it feels like we never left,” said James.

He said continued success from the garrison command will come with positive precedence.

“Steve [Murphy] and Bob [Burns, the Bliss deputy garrison commander], I am incredibly impressed with the team you have built here at Fort Bliss,” James said. “I am profoundly aware of the exceptional, long-lasting support our community partners provide Fort Bliss [and] our Soldiers, veterans, civilians, and their families. I’m looking forward to meeting every one of you and continuing to build on this great relationship. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve Fort Bliss and the many communities it supports.”

For more on USAG Fort Bliss, visit

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