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Lynch reads to students, talks up Iraq plans
pic LynchReadAloud
Third Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch took center stage Thursday to read aloud from the Dr. Seuss book, “Oh Places We Will Go” during the Taylors Creek Elementary USO Show. - photo by By Daisy Pleasant Jones
The 3rd Infantry Division commanding general had a full schedule of events Thursday including a stop that brought a wave of excitement at Taylors Creek Elementary School’s USO Show.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch and his wife, Sarah, were surrounded by hundreds of students, some clad in versions of the military battle dress uniform, and their parents for a read aloud and serenade of the Marne Division’s greatest hits.
The Parent Involvement Network sponsored the event.
The air was electric as TES Principal Dr. Debbie Rodriguez led the students in the singing of “The Army Song” as parents joined in.
Lynch opted not to use the rocking chair on the platform for his second reading. Instead he exited the stage and invited the children to gather around him. His invitation set off a roar of laughter and a scramble to sit close to the general.
“That might not be the best decision I’ve made today,” Lynch said jokingly after moments passed and administrators calmed the crowd of youngsters.
Clad in the Army’s dress uniform, Lynch read aloud from a Dr. Seuss book. Later, students stood and sang a rousing rendition of the “Dog Face Soldier” song.
“That has to be the best I have ever heard that song sang,” Lynch told the audience.
Rodriguez recognized the military children and soldiers in the audience before bringing the program to a close.
“It says a lot about him to take time out from his schedule to do this,” DeBorah Tunnage, program coordinator, said. “I know he is busy and I’m glad he was willing to come and do this in the community.”
War in Iraq
Earlier in the day, Lynch held a retirement ceremony and before that hosted a media luncheon with area reporters to set the record straight about the war in Iraq.
Recent reports that “orders for a troop surge have blown military readiness” is hurting support for the war, Lynch said.
“The center of gravity for success in Iraq is public support,” he noted.
The general once again urged patience in the global war.
“The American people have to quit complaining and understand that this war is going to take a long time. Solutions don’t come overnight,” he said.
Lynch expressed his concern about mostly negative reports coming out of Iraq. As he has often said in statements to media, the general pointed to 14 provinces in Iraq that are “safe and quiet.”
There are only four providences with volatile conditions, he noted, saying, “The public thinks everything in Iraq is going wrong.”
While the president’s strategy has changed to a troop-surge tactic, Lynch said using the term “troop surge” is not accurate.
“It’s really a troop increase,” Lynch said. “I don’t like the word surge. Surge has negative connotations meaning stop what you’re doing and run to combat. We are not sending poorly trained and poorly equipped soldiers into combat,” the general urged.
He said the division has stayed on track with its training plans despite changes. “We as a division, we as an Army will not send untrained soldiers,” he said. “This is a deliberate process and we’re doing a disservice to the public, to moms and dads, giving them a perception that we have poorly prepared their sons and daughters.”  

Lynch said the fight has to remain in Iraq. “Terrorists hast us. They hate our society. There’s a reason an attack hasn’t happened since 9-11 and that’s because we’ve taken it there. It’s gonna take a whole lot and it’s worth it,” the commander said.
Opponents of the war say cut and run, but Lynch said leaving now is not an option for the country. “We can’t just say get out of there. If we do we’re hurting ourselves, “ he said.
“What we don’t want is for our grandchildren to not have the freedoms we have because we won’t do what we have to do,” the general said.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team has closed in on Iraq and the 3rd BCT and 2nd BCTs will follow in March and May. Lynch will head to Iraq again later this year followed by the Aviation and 3rd Sustainment Brigades. By the end of the year the whole of the division will be serving its 3rd deployment since 2003.

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