By Steve ElliottApril 8, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- "The Army isn't going to break because of its Soldiers, but it may break because of our families," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and assistant chief of staff for installation management, to the crowd at the Sam Houston Club, March 31.
"The stress, the strain, that we are having as an Army family is unbelievable, almost unbearable," Lynch continued.
"As the commanding general of IMCOM, I have the opportunity to take the resources we have to truly focus on the family. It's our commitment to the Army family to make sure they know that we know the stress and strain they are going through ... that they know our dedication to the families we've made over the past two years under the Army Family Covenant."
At a luncheon sponsored by the Alamo chapter of the Association of the United States Army attended by most every Army flag officer within a 10-mile radius, Lynch talked about the command coming to Fort Sam Houston and how he wants IMCOM to be a good neighbor.
"Before I took this job, I thought the Army was centered around Fort Hood, Texas," the general said, referring to an earlier stint as commander of III Corps and Fort Hood.
"Now I realize that the Army is a little bigger than just Fort Hood. IMCOM looks after 163 installations, has 117,000 people and a $28 million annual budget. When I was offered the position as IMCOM commander, I took it as a blessing because it is the job where I could truly focus of taking care of our great Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and our families."
Lynch said taking care of families means making our families "resilient." This meant focusing on building and improving families physical, emotional and spiritual fitness to help families recover faster from the stress of deployments and separation.
"We spend too much time fixing our Soldiers and their families after we break them and not enough time keeping them from breaking. We need to focus on our Soldiers and our civilians so when they enter difficult times, they come out enriched, not devastated. That is the essence of resiliency."
The general, born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, spent the majority of his adult life in Texas, said that he is humbled to be in the presence of the American Soldier, especially since so many joined the military after the start of the Global War on Terrorism.
"I routinely find myself in a position where I'm talking to youngsters and I realize that in some point in time, they were in the comfort of their homes with their family and watching the Global War on Terror on TV," said Lynch, also known by his call sign, "Defender 6."
"I was the spokesperson for the Multi-National Force-Iraq (as deputy chief of staff for strategic effects) while Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was the MNF-I commander, and we would routinely fill in the media on the good things and the bad things. The only things they would show America were the bad things. That's a tragedy."
Lynch said that young people had a choice at that time.
"These youngsters were sitting in their living rooms watching something bad, and they had a choice. They could say, 'Not my problem,' and turn off the TV and do something else, but they didn't."
"The American Soldier these days is part of an all-volunteer force, made up of people that made a conscious choice to go down to the recruiting station and join our nation and our military while our nation was at war.
"We'll be at war for the foreseeable future. We talk about being at war for eight-and-a-half years now, the longest this nation has been at continual conflict," Lynch said.
"General Casey has been very clear that senior leadership in the Army believe that we'll be fighting the global war on terrorism for at least the next decade," Lynch continued.
The general also talked about continuing to working closely with AUSA when the command moves to Fort Sam Houston.
"I just want to tell you thanks for what you do every day," Lynch said to the chapter members.
"I want to pledge to you that when we move in this direction - we, meaning me and 3,500 friends, if you don't mind - we'd all like to join this local chapter, so we can continue to have this relationship between AUSA and our Soldiers," said Lynch.
"We're excited about the move to San Antonio and giving you the chance to help us as we help our Soldiers and families. I support those people who support us," Lynch said.
"We are going through difficult times. We are fighting and winning this nation's wars.
"We are ensuring that our children and their children will enjoy the same freedoms we enjoy today. We are protecting our freedoms, but it's hard on our Soldiers, families and civilians. If we acknowledge that it's hard and that we work together to make it less hard, then we can take this to the next level. We can reduce our suicide rates exponentially, improve our safety records, we can provide for our Gold Star families and we can focus on resiliency."
"You have outstanding leadership on (Fort Sam Houston)," Lynch said in closing, "and we're glad we're going to be part of the team."