By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – When Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch leaves this fall to lead Installation Management Command, or IMCOM, Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola will go with him.
Lynch and Ciotola talked with members of the Texas media Thursday during a luncheon at Club Hood, and discussed their new positions and Lynch's replacement, Maj. Gen. (promotable) Robert W. Cone.
Lynch said he asked Ciotola, who has been the senior noncommissioned officer at Fort Hood and III Corps four years.
Ciotola said he has been afforded the opportunity to live his adult dream at Fort Hood, adding, "quite frankly, this has become my home." Ciotola said he would do his darndest to bring to other installations things that were successful at Fort Hood.
"I am very, very excited about this opportunity," he said.
Lynch announced June 5 he would leave Central Texas just more than a year after taking command of the post and III Corps, but would not say where he was headed. Lynch replaced now-Gen. Raymond Odierno on July 18, who then took over from Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander in Iraq.
A change of command between Lynch and Cone is set for Sept. 16, the general said.
Cone and his wife, Jill, are not strangers to Fort Hood, having served as a brigade commander in the 4th Infantry Division and in the 2nd Armored Division in the late 1970s.
"He loves this area like we love this area," Lynch said, referring to he and his wife, Sarah.
A challenge for Cone will be assuming command just three months before the corps is set to deploy. However, Lynch said the generals are working together on a detailed plan that will lead to an "unbelievably seamless" transition. Cone has input on every decision that Lynch is making now that will be implemented after he leaves, Lynch said.
Lynch said he wanted to lead III Corps into battle – because the soldier in him wanted to continue to be with soldiers – but the Army's chief of staff asked him to take the IMCOM position. He said he was "very, very" excited about the opportunity.
"To me it's all about service," Lynch said.
It's an opportunity to touch a lot more soldiers, expanding his reach from one installation to 106, sharing the best practices and focusing on families.
Lynch said there were several initiatives he would "put personal energy to" in the next 90 days: the Resiliency Campus, Survivor Outreach Services and education.
He is set to take Fort Hood commanders and command sergeants major on a tour of the facilities Tuesday. The Army spends too much time trying to fix soldiers and their families after they're broken, Lynch said, and not enough trying to keep them from breaking.
Lynch on Thursday signed letters to 848 Gold Star families who live in
geographical proximity to Fort Hood. It's important to make and maintain contact with those families, he said. The families are invited to Fort Hood in June so they can see how much their soldiers were loved and what the post can do to help them, Lynch said.
Losing the soldiers was a tragedy, he went on to say, but so is allowing these families to leave Fort Hood without maintaining contact.
An education task force is meeting Tuesday to discuss the post's partnership with local school districts. Lynch said he want to ensure that schools who were partnered with 4th Infantry units get new partners when the division departs for Fort Carson, Colo., this summer. He also talked about a program that would pair soldiers with students who need help with math.
Lynch is set to assume command of IMCOM on Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C. His new job has two roles. He will be the "Army's single authority and primary provider of base support services while also being responsible for providing effective garrison support of mission activities," according to information from IMCOM's Web site.
The command oversees installation management, which includes construction; barracks and family housing; soldier and family morale, welfare and recreation programs; logistics; public works and installation funding, according to a March 2009 IMCOM report.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.