After just a few short months, British Brig. Gen. Leigh R. Tingey and his family have fallen in love with El Paso and Fort Bliss.
The 48-year-old Cambridge native took over as the new deputy commanding general for maneuver for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss in late August.
“In 28 years in the British Army, I have never seen a relationship as close with the local community as there is between El Paso and Fort Bliss,” he said.
“El Paso is an amazing place. My wife (Kerry) and I have fallen in love with it,” Tingey continued. “The people are so friendly. The weather is glorious. The weather, the culture, the food, the environment and the mountains you have here. We have traveled a bit into the local area – three, four hours away – and it is quite amazing.”
Tingey is just the second general from the United Kingdom to serve as a deputy commanding general for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. He succeeds British Brig. Gen. Frazer Lawrence, who served as a deputy commanding general for three years.
Tingey’s three children – Ben, 17; Olivia, 15; and William, 13 – are attending boarding school back home in the United Kingdom, but the family reunites every six weeks or so.
It is not uncommon for military children to stay behind and continue attending their same school so they have some sort of continuity in their education, Tingey said.
“From my perspective, my three children love it,” he said. “They thrive in that environment, so it is not that difficult for us.”
The kids also love El Paso, Tingey said. The family is making it a tradition to have dinner at iconic L & J Café either the first or second night after the children fly in for a visit during their breaks in their schooling, Tingey said.
Tingey has also been quite impressed with Fort Bliss and all it offers in terms of training and professional development.
The 1st Armored Division’s professionalism and motivation, its fighting power and the installation’s ability to serve as a platform for training and mobilization all stand out, he said.
He is part of an exchange program between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“It is an important part of building that trust, building that military relationship with what is our primary strategic partner,” Tingey said.
Tingey said he would like to “consolidate this job” and make it a permanent feature that the division always has a general from the United Kingdom serving as a deputy commander.
“I am only the second deputy commanding general in the 1st Armored Division from the United Kingdom,” Tingey said. “I would like to make sure I am succeeded and that this continues for many years to go.”
The division headquarters recently went through its Warfighter exercise at Fort Bliss. This is the headquarters’ version of a National Training Center rotation.
Tingey said it is crucial for the division and all its brigades to transition from a counter-insurgency fight – which has been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 17 years – to being able to relearn their army-on-army or combined arms skills.
“It is easy to sometimes to concentrate on the threat posed by extreme terrorism and it is a big threat, and I’m not underplaying it in anyway,” Tingey said. “But there are significant other threats we need to be prepared for and deter.”
Tingey’s final goal for his two-year tenure at Fort Bliss is to set the “conditions for future success for the division.”
“As the M — the maneuver deputy commanding general — my primary responsibility to the commanding general is for the long-term planning within the division,” Tingey said. “It is making sure myself and my team are looking 18 months into the future.”
Tingey is a combat engineer by trade and has served in a wide range of units over his career. He also has a background as a trainer.
He has been an instructor for the British version of NTC – called the British Army Training Unit Suffield which is near Calgary, Canada.
There, he helped to teach brigades and battle groups to do armored maneuver.
He also served as an instructor at the British Defence Academy, teaching majors and lieutenant colonels how to conduct division-level operations.
Most recently, Tingey attended the Royal College of Defence Studies for a year. That program is affiliated with King’s College London.
“It is an honor to be here,” Tingey said. “This is such a well-known division – America’s tank division.”
Author: David Burge/Special to the El Paso Herald-Post
David Burge is a news producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience working at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.
Watch for more “Meet the Leaders” profiles in upcoming issues of the El Paso Herald-Post.