Blogger Call: MG Rick Lynch, Cdr 3rd ID Posted by: McQ
on Thursday, August 16, 2007
I can comfortably characterize General Lynch as a blunt, no-nonsense guy. A classic infantryman, but in reality an armor officer. Close enough.
Lynch is the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division as well as Commander of MNFD-Center. His battle space includes the southern belts around Baghdad and the 4 southern Iraqi provinces.
MG Lynch gave a short opening statement concerning where his forces were, what they were doing and what results they'd achieved. We talked mostly military operations on this one, to include their latest, Operation Marne Husky. He stated his military mission as being three-fold:
Block/stop the "accelerants" from reaching Baghdad
Secure the population
Stop the sectarian violence
Concerning the latter, he said they are turning their focus more on the Shia militias as each day passes.
Lynch is on his third tour in Iraq, his last tour having been only 10 months ago. But he said the changes in Iraq in that short time are significant, although he also said some things haven't changed at all. The police, for instance are still poor and unreliable and the government is still not plugged in like it should be. But he said the Iraqi Army is markedly improved and the civilian population's attitude has changed phenomenally and, mostly, for the better.
One of his lines which got a laugh was "we don't commute to work anymore", explaining that unlike the past when they lived on FOBs, went out on operations and then returned to the FOBs, they now live among the Iraqi population in 29 Combat Outposts. Previously, any gains they'd made in their operations were negated within 48 hours of their completion when the bad guys moved back into the area they'd just cleared. Now, they are able to pretty much secure the areas in which they're living and keep them out.
He said that when they clear an area, they always get the same two questions: "Are you going to stay?", and when answered in the affirmative, "How can we help?"
I asked him to give us an idea of how the quality and quantity of actionable intelligence had risen since they've moved out to live among the Iraqis. He said the increase is "exponential". Previously, according to Lynch, they had relied heavily on SIGINT (signals intelligence) and satellite intelligence (as well as drones, etc) for the majority of their intel info. HUMINT (human intelligence) was fairly scarce and usually unreliable. Since they've initiated the COIN doctrine and are living among the Iraqis, the amount of HUMINT is far and away the predominant intel they now get (they still use the others, of course). He said he couldn't count the number of times in the few short months they've been there that Iraqi citizens had pointed out where weapons caches were kept.
He also mentioned that there has been a much greater level of citizen participation in their own security. Lynch has a "concerned citizen" corps who are all volunteers and who man checkpoints and do a sort of neighborhood watch. He was very clear about the fact that they are not arming them, but he said the "concerned citizens" have become an integral part of the security plan and he's trying to get them recognized by the Iraqi government so they can get some sort of official support.
When asked about Iran, he acknowledged that Iranian arms are much more prevalent now and that Iranians are training some shia militia members as well (in Iran). Lynch said they've reoriented some forces to address the border problem and, as stated earlier, begun turning their focus on the shia militias (JAM).
One of the more interesting things he related was his sense of optimism that the Iraqi people are going to win this counter-insurgency fight. Right now, unfortunately, that would have to mostly be done without their government. However, as he related through the whole question and answer period, he is seeing a real change in attitude this time - at the very grass roots level in Iraq - that he's never witnessed in previous tours.
Obviously, even given the good news, there are lots of problems which still remain to be solved, not the least of which are the police and the central government. But while I don't want to make too much of it I still think there is significant power to be found in this bottom-up reconciliation which is taking place.
We've always said it will be up to the Iraqis to say "enough" and take charge of their lives and country. In many, many areas, that's beginning to happen in significant ways. I can only hope the momentum will continue to build and, if it can't happen any other way, make the central government responsive or replace it.
When asked if he had a final thought he'd like to leave us with MG Lynch said he knew there was a lot of talk about the Army being broken and all. He said "don't believe it" and that such descriptions didn't describe the Army "I'm in".
Lynch said our soldiers are out there everyday in 135 degree heat with 65 pounds of body armor on doing the job. And, as he pointed out, broken armies, especially volunteer armies, don't have people reenlisting in them, and last week alone, all at one time, he reenlisted 134 right there in Iraq.
Great article but I have one small correction. I served with MG Lynch when he was commanding a Battalion (1-8 Cav) in the First Cavalry Division. You described him a "no-nonsense Infantryman". MG Lynch is not now nor ever has been branched Infantry.
He was commission from USMA as an Engineer officer and after commanding a couple of companies branch transferred to Armor.