By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch said Friday that he will leave III Corps and Fort Hood.
The general's next assignment has not yet been released, but his announcement comes less than 11 months after he took command.
His replacement, Maj. Gen. (promotable) Robert W. Cone, was named Friday by the Defense Department. A change of command is scheduled for the fall, Lynch said.
Lynch made the official announcement to local community leaders and Army commanders during a bi-annual Regional Leaders Information Forum at Club Hood.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Friday that the president nominated Cone for his third star and assignment as Fort Hood's commander. Cone now serves as special assistant to the commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va.
The Defense Department named him to that assignment on Jan. 27, 2009. Before that he served as commander of U.S. Central Command's Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan where he was "responsible for the ongoing security, mentoring and training operations in Afghanistan," according to information from the Defense Department. He assumed command there on July 16, 2007, and handed the position over to Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica on Dec. 18, 2008.
Cone was credited as the driving force in training Afghanistan's national police, according to a release last year from the Defense Department. Gen. David D. McKiernan, then the top commander in Afghanistan, said Cone helped grow the Afghan National Army by 26,000 soldiers. The army was then capable of leading more than 60 percent of the operations in which its soldiers participated, McKiernan said.
Lynch said Friday he has known of his departure for three months and has worked since then with Cone on that transition. "No orders have been received or official announcement made about this," according to information from the III Corps Public Affairs Office when inquiries were made last month about Lynch's move and new position.
Cone has proceeded Lynch in three positions throughout their military careers, Lynch said Friday.
Cone served at Fort Hood as the 4th Infantry Division's operations officer and commander of the division's 2nd Brigade, according to his biography. Other previous assignments include serving as commander of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Calif.; director of the U.S. Join Forces Command's Joint Center for Operational Analysis in Iraq; and commander of the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss and later Fort Carson, Colo.
Cone is from Manchester, N.H. He was commissioned as an armor lieutenant from the U.S. Military Academy in 1979. He later received a Master of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lynch replaced now-Gen. Raymond Odierno at Fort Hood on July 18, 2008. Odierno went on to serve as the top commander in Iraq, replacing Gen. David Petraeus.
Before coming back to Central Texas where he served a handful of previous assignments with the 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry Divisions, Lynch commanded Georgia's Fort Stewart and the 3rd Infantry Division. He led the division in Iraq for 15 months.
The Heart of Texas Defense Alliance has enjoyed working with Lynch on projects of interest to Fort Hood and Central Texas, said retired Col. Bill Parry, alliance executive director. The organization is ready to continue and build a close relationship with Cone, "supporting important initiatives for defense institutions, organization and industries in Central Texas," he went on to say.
"We look forward to working with Lt. Gen. Lynch on future endeavors of importance to Fort Hood and Central Texas," Parry said.
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Civilian, military leaders discuss community issues
Friday's Regional Leaders Information Forum was a gathering where local civilian and military leaders discuss community issues. Topics included ways the area and Fort Hood can work better together to support the needs of families of deployed soldiers, according to information from Fort Hood.
At the meeting, Lynch talked about several ongoing issues at Fort Hood to include:
The 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. Its soldiers are in the process of returning from a year in Iraq, and the brigade's future home has been unknown for some time. The brigade will stay at Fort Hood until after its next deployment, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch said. Plans were to move the brigade to Fort Bliss, but Lynch said that would cut into the soldiers' dwell time, or time at home between deployments.
First Army Division West. The Fort Carson, Colo.-based command, led by a two-star general, is set to arrive Aug. 24 to replace the 4th Infantry's Special Troops Battalion and 1st Brigade Combat Team. Those two will move to Fort Carson in mid-July. Lynch called it a "one-for-one swap."
Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). AAFES is looking in the next three years to relocate its headquarters from Dallas. Lynch said he's already told Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, AAFES commander, that Fort Hood would be an ideal location. In three years, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center will occupy its new facility, leaving the current building empty. That would be a perfect AAFES headquarters, Lynch said. That move would bring 3,600 employees to the area, and Lynch asked for the local communities' help in convincing AAFES that Central Texas is prepared to handle its needs. "This is one we ought to jump on like a duck on a June bug," Lynch said.
Converting heavy brigade combat teams to Stryker brigade combat teams. Lynch didn't talk a lot about the possible conversions, but said it could involve the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Chaffee Village. The on-post housing area, which Lynch has long said was inadequate for soldiers and their families, will be replaced during the next three years. It was originally slated to be replaced in 2032, but funding has come though to replace the "horrendous" conditions, Lynch said.