Fort Bliss on Tuesday announced the post will have a new leader this Spring. Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard announced Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland will replace him.
The Army has not announced where Pittard will go. During an interview Tuesday, he hinted at having to decide whether to stay in the military. Pittard also said the announcement on his future will be announced in a couple weeks.
MacFarland is currently serving as a Deputy Chief of Staff for the International Security force in Afghanistan.
He's no stranger to the Borderland. Starting in 2008 and for more than a year, MacFarland led the Joint Task Force North in El Paso, which provides Department of Defense support to U.S. border security.
MacFarland and Pittard met as young cadets at West Point. They were both 18.
"He's just a great person. He's got great judgement because he married someone from El Paso,” Pittard said. “His wife Linda went to Parkland High School. He's served at Fort Bliss twice now. He served here as a young lieutenant, that's when he met his wife, Linda"
MacFarland and Linda even got married in El Paso in June 1984.
It'll be a new era for the post, which faces the potential of large budget cuts.
Right now the military is looking at having to slash as much as 30-percent of its operating budget. Since 2010 when he took helm of the post, Pittard has overseen an explosion of growth on Fort Bliss. He's overseen the development on Fort Bliss East, including the move of post headquarters there. He's also been in charge of the planning for a new billion dollar William Beaumont Army Medical Center and accompanying veterans treatment facility, which is scheduled for completion in 2016.
MacFarland, instead of having to oversee massive growth and development, will have to focus on potential cuts to the posts operating budget that may force a slash in specific services. Pittard said the post has been looking at ways to save, such as ending the fire department program at William Beaumont, considering there's an El Paso fire department close by.
Pittard said MacFarland's pivotal role in the war in Iraq and his leadership helping to win a war many considered lost will go to good use on post.
"When we talk about the change in Iraq and the Sunni awakening back in 2006, 2007 that started with his brigade, 1st brigade, 1st armored division combat team - it was his leadership that got that going and made such a decisive change in Iraq," Pittard said.
A 2007 USA Today article highlighted MacFarland's strategy in which he built small, more vulnerable combat outposts in Ramadi's most dangerous neighborhoods — places where al-Qaeda had taken root. This was completely the opposite of the U.S. strategy in Iraq at the time which called for pulling American forces back to large, heavily protected bases.
"I was going the wrong way down a one-way street," MacFarland said in the USAToday article.
Read the full USA Today article here.
MacFarland was appointed to the US Military Academy from New York and graduated in 1981. His assignments since then include serving as a Cavalry officer in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Bliss, TX and in 3rd Squadron, 12th US Cavalry in Buedingen, Germany, where he commanded a Cavalry Troop patrolling the Fulda Gap.
He served as Deputy Regimental S3 of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. As a Major, he was Operations Officer of 3rd Squadron, 4th US Cavalry in Schweinfurt, Germany and then Executive Officer of 1st Squadron, 4th US Cavalry in Bosnia.
As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded 2d Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment in Macedonia and Vilseck, Germany. He also served as Chief of Future Operations for CJTF-7 in Baghdad, Iraq. As a Colonel, he served as the G3 of V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany before assuming command of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany in 2005.
He led the Brigade through 14 months of combat in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, initially in Tal Afar before moving to Ramadi, where the Sunni Arab Awakening began during the Brigade’s tour there. He then served as Chief of the Iraq Division, Plans and Policy Directorate (J5) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the “Iraq Surge”. As a Brigadier General, he was commanding general of Joint Task Force North, in El Paso, TX, which provides Department of Defense support to US Border Security.
Prior to deploying to Afghanistan, he was Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Combined Arms Center for Leader Development and Education and Deputy Commandant of the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
MacFarland is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He also earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech.