EL PASO, Texas -- "Fort Bliss is the future" was the repeated theme at Friday's meeting in downtown El Paso that signified the unity between the installation and its surrounding city, Oct. 15.

Nearly 400 people gathered at the Civic Center for the State of the Military address given by Fort Bliss' Commanding General Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard.

The meeting addressed major issues facing the Army and its Soldiers, including deployments, the workforce, suicide and renewable energy.

"We want to be the first installation to, 'on purpose,' reduce our carbon footprint," said Pittard, who still expresses a five-year goal of producing more energy than consumed on post. His goals include to erecting solar energy facilities and to produce geothermal energy, wind energy and waste-to-energy, all in collaboration with El Paso.

"We want to partner with El Paso as El Paso moves to look at being not just the 'Sun City,' but the 'Sun City' when it comes to solar energy," he said. "Mayor [John] Cook has some progressive goals and we certainly support him, as far as not just being a recipient of solar energy ... but being an industry leader for the future for this region."

Maintaining a bond with El Paso is more than just energy, however, as Pittard pointed out the economic impact Bliss has had on the city with its expansion projects having spent $825 million so far.

As the installation grows, Pittard projects another $3.7 billion will be poured into the community. The $100 million Freedom Crossing Post Exchange and Commissary complex will employ 900 citizens of El Paso in the numerous shops it houses. Pittard also said he looks forward to drawing the scientific Army community to Fort Bliss, and doing so will create even more jobs.

"I enjoy the partnership here between Fort Bliss and the El Paso community," said Maj. Eric McCoy, executive officer for the 125th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. "This is the best synergy between the military and the civilian community that I've seen in 12 years of service."

McCoy decided to attend after being invited by Del Sol Medical Center, an organization his unit partners with for the Bradley Strong Guardians program, and professional development.

"Fort Bliss is the future," said McCoy. "There are a lot of personal and professional development opportunities at Fort Bliss that can't be found anywhere else in the Army today."

Ending the address, six Soldiers earned "Best of Bliss" recognition for outstanding performance. Soldier of the Year Sgt. Lakeshia R. Livingston, Noncommission-ed Officer of the Year Sgt. Charles C. Stokes of Fort Bliss, and Airman of the Year, Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius Jones of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., were honored and presented with awards.