Fort Bliss has a new garrison commander, the military equivalent to a city manager.
Col. Joseph Simonelli Jr. replaces Col. Ed Manning, who’s been reassigned to Germany after serving as garrison commander for the standard two years.
In a ceremony today, Simonelli said he planned to foster a strong relationship between El Paso and Fort Bliss.
“The Fort Bliss and El Paso communities are still one – and rely on each other for everything,” he said.
He also said he planed to focus on helping soldiers returning from war zones.
“Having recently returned from Iraq myself and going through a lot of things the soldiers are going through – both themselves and their families – that’s going to be one of the biggest focuses we have here at Fort Bliss,” he said.
In Iraq, Simonelli trained local security forces.
Before that, he was stationed at Fort Bliss.
But that was four years ago, before the arrival of roughly 34,000 soldiers and their families.
Col. Manning, who’s been re-assigned to Germany, thanked his staff and community members.
He became emotional recognizing the people who’ve died during his tenure, including the three killed in last month’s med-evac helicopter crash.
Manning will stay at Fort Bliss until the summer.
He’ll serve as Simonelli’s chief of staff, assisting the garrison commander with his transition.