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3rd ID commander reports from Iraq

POSTED: May 8, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Although his soldiers are “exactly where they should be in terms of equipment and training,” the 3rd Infantry Division’s commanding general said, “We are still losing great soldiers.”
As Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch spoke to the Coastal Courier in a telephone interview this week, he noted the death of a soldier in a unit attached to the 3rd ID headquarters, and the dedication of another tree Thursday at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk, honoring another 3rd ID soldier killed.
“We are in top-of-the-line armored vehicles,” the general said as an example of improved equipment used by the division in Iraq.
“As I said before we left Fort Stewart, we will only bring to Iraq soldiers who are trained and ready,” he said.
Noting the recent extension of Iraq tours from 12 to 15 months for all deployed and deploying soldiers, Lynch recalled he had told 3rd ID soldiers and families to be prepared for a potential stay of 18 months.
“There are signs of progress,” he said, “but we are in a difficult situation. The cost is high.”
Morale is good, the general said, and pointed out several reasons, including, “We know our families are being taken care of back home.” Lynch remains installation commander of Fort Stewart and stays in touch with home station through formal and informal and informal channels.
“I talk to my wife,” he said, “just like other soldiers talk to their wives.” The general also has regular teleconferences with Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs.
The infrastructure in Iraq to support morale includes a fitness center “just like the one we have at Fort Stewart,” with another one under construction. Other features include movies, pool, ping-pong, a library and a popular Internet café.
Lynch said the recent visit of three National  Football League players was an example of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities that include tours by celebrities and entertainers.
As part of the Gridiron Greats Tour 2007, Chris Harris, a safety with the Chicago Bears, Nick Harper, a cornerback with the Indianapolis Colts and Israel Idonije, a defensive end also with the Chicago Bears, visited soldiers last week.
“These players understand what soldiers are doing and they understand how they are serving and they want to give back to the community, the greater community of the Army,” said Joe Canfield, the players’ manager.
The 3rd ID headquarters, established from scratch since its arrival in Iraq, also commands the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division and the 4th Brigade (Airborne) of the 25th Division.
 

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