Lynch talks budget, energy during visit
March 31, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, IMCOM commanding general, visited Fort Jackson last week to assess the Army's largest Basic Combat Training installation and offer words of encouragement to the post's Soldiers, civilians and family members.
Lynch, who began his command in November 2009, made his first visit to Fort Jackson March 24. IMCOM was activated in 2006 to reduce bureaucracy, apply a uniform business structure to manage Army installations, sustain the environment and enhance the well-being of the military community.
"I have visited 75 installations in the last 16 months and the reason I do this is to see what is going on outside Washington, D.C.," he said. "There is a world that goes on inside Washington D.C., 360 (days a year) and then there is a world that is going on outside."
Lynch began his tour of the post by meeting with Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Jackson commanding general, before embarking on a visit to the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) to witness some of the facility challenges leaders face. "You are obviously showing me the areas that need the most attention," Lynch said, looking up at a gaping hole in the ceiling inside one of the company barracks. "Just hang in there and do the best you can with what you have for now."
Lt. Col. Michael McTigue, 120th commander, said he understands the financial issues. "With budget constraints, in today's operating environment, it results in us making sure we are getting everything out of the current facilities (when possible)," McTigue said. "And the DPW (Directorate of Public Works) and battalion work to ensure we get just that."
Following a working lunch with Fort Jackson directors, Lynch hosted a town hall meeting with IMCOM employees at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center auditorium.
"Our Army is not going to break over the stress of our Soldiers, but it may break on the stress of our families," Lynch told a standing-room-only audience. "The strain on our families is almost unbearable. But the organization that focuses on taking care of families is IMCOM. What you are doing (at) Fort Jackson is as important as in Afghanistan.
"We touch people's lives whether it is ACS (Army Community Services), FMWR (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation,) family housing or emergency services. It is you magnificent people who touch lives every day," he said. "We as a nation appreciate you giving Soldiers, families and civilians a high quality of life. That is so important."
After offering words of encouragement and praise, Lynch spoke frankly about the military's $28.3 billion deficit and said that some jobs would have to be cut by the end of next fiscal year. "Nobody is going to take your job from you as long as I am the IMCOM commander," said. "There is going to be a right-sizing initiative at IMCOM over the next few years and I need you to help me do it," he said. "Money allocated to places like Fort Jackson have to be used for what it was allocated." Lynch also touched on the current civilian hiring freeze and said that it is not expected to end anytime soon.
Even so, he praised the civilians for their efforts, despite the organization's current deficits.
"I am so impressed with our civilian workforce," he said. "What you do is as an important job as anyone else in the Army." Following the town hall meeting, Lynch paid a visit to Fort Jackson's Honeywell facility for a briefing on the installation's energy reduction efforts. "The Army light bill last year was $1.7 billion, and a lot of that is unnecessary," said Lynch, who challenged installation employees to put together a list of 16 things they can do to reduce energy.
Lynch visited Fort Jackson with his wife, Sarah, who had her own full itinerary, meeting with drill sergeants' spouses, Family Readiness Group leaders and families of fallen Soldiers with Survivor Outreach Services. The couple linked up later in the day at the Family Readiness Center for a briefing on the post's ACS programs before visiting the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment for a discussion on barracks furnishings.
"Lt. Gen. Lynch walked away impressed with all of the great initiatives we have here at Fort Jackson," said Col. James Love, garrison commander.
"Our top issues to him were the need for a new reception battalion, increased energy programs and the advantages of maintaining Fort Jackson as the premier BCT post in the Army. "He was particularly impressed with the positive attitude of our employees and their dedication to providing Soldiers and families a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service," Love said.