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    Destiny fulfilled: Brig. Gen. Lytle reflects on his career as he retires

    Brig. Gen. Lytle reflects on his career as he retires

    Photo By Capt. Robert Taylor | Brig. Gen. Robert K. Lytle retires Sept. 30 after a 35-year military career. Until his...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Robert Taylor 

    Idaho Army National Guard

    Brig. Gen. Robert K. Lytle estimates he was told more than six times throughout his career that his career was over. Yet, he was able to find success and is retiring Sept. 30 as the Idaho Army National Guard Land Component Commander.

    His career in the Idaho Army National Guard began in 1993 thanks to an ad in the Yellow Pages and eventually led to his selection as one of three general officers currently serving in the organization.

    “Every Soldier in the Idaho Army National Guard needs to realize they are in control of their destiny” Lytle said. “They do become what they think of. I think a key word everybody needs to think about is what their destiny is.”

    Lytle said his destiny kept changing.

    The Citadel Military College

    It’s a destiny that started at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. Lytle was the seventh generation from his family to attend the military college.

    Afterwards, Lytle commissioned into the active duty Army in 1982 and spent 11 years as an armor officer. He was assigned to Amberg, Germany; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

    While in Germany he met his wife, Jana. She was a refugee from Czechoslovakia living in Germany at the time.

    In 1992, he received the voluntary separation incentive and separated as a captain. He moved to Mountain Home from Hill Air Force Base to sell insurance.

    He started to miss being in the Army about a year later. He learned about the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team in the Yellow Pages and decided to join the unit.

    Lytle was assigned to 2-116th Cavalry and spent time as the battalion S4 (logistics), S2 (military intelligence) and S3 (operations officer) before becoming the assistant S3 for the brigade prior to its 1998 National Training Center rotation. He served as a battle caption for the exercise and was promoted to major in that position.

    After NTC, he became the state training officer. Lytle called this change one of the hardest in his career.

    “It was a large adjustment to leave the line unit environment,” he said.

    Operation Iraqi Freedom III

    Lytle’s next position was the brigade’s executive officer, which put him in a key leadership position for the unit’s deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2003. The deployment was the largest in the state’s history.

    “It was hectic,” he said. “The brigade had to do a lot.”

    The deployment consisted of six months of mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and a year in Iraq.

    Lytle was the rear detachment commander at each stop, including Kuwait and Iraq. In Kuwait, he oversaw the brigade’s convoys of wheeled vehicles into Iraq. He was one of the last Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers to leave Iraq at the completion of the brigade’s involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

    Lytle completed Army War College during the deployment and became the 2-116th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron commander upon the unit’s return from Iraq. He held this position for a year before he promoted to colonel as the brigade’s deputy commander.

    In 2009, he was assigned as the deputy chief of staff for the Idaho National Guard. That position became the Idaho Army National Guard chief of staff in December 2010, which Lytle held until he was promoted to brigadier general in January 2015.

    His position as the land forces component commander is reserved for traditional Guardsmen, which meant Lytle had to retire as a federal technician to accept the promotion. He had worked as a federal technician since 1995.

    Beyond the uniform

    Shortly after his retirement from the federal technician program, Lytle became a contractor with Mission Command Training Support Program. He is a team leader that trains National Guard battalion and brigade staffs on Army doctrine and the Military Decision Making Process.

    “It’s fun to be back in contact with Soldiers and officers that are at the worker bee level,” Lytle said. “You’re helping them with your wisdom as to why the process is important, why the Army does it, why you need to do it, and provide the doctrine underpinnings of the right way to do it.”

    “When I was a captain, I would have given anything to have the assistance we provide.”

    Lytle studied English literature at The Citadel and has always had a strong interest in military history. He is currently the president of Idaho Military Historical Society. In 2012, he found a way to combine these two interests when he started writing and self-publishing books.

    He recently finished writing his fourth book in a six-part series. The series, “Shot and Shell,” focuses on the Civil War.

    “The story is from the eyes of Soldiers that were being driven by the environment,” Lytle said. “They don’t always understand why they are doing what they are doing,”

    “My intent is to try to detail little known details of Soldiers in that age in battle and when they aren’t in battle and to try to capture technology of the age that most people don’t know about.”

    Lytle’s interest in the Civil War stemmed from researching his family’s involvement in the war. He was able to trace five members of his family to the Confederate side and possibly one member to the Union side.

    Lytle has lived in Mountain Home since moving to Idaho in 1992. He has been married to Jana for 31 years and they have two children. Their daughter, Carolina, is an officer in the Florida National Guard and was the first female from the Lytle family to attend The Citadel. Their son Andrew also previously served in the Idaho Army National Guard and deployed with the 116th CBCT in support of Operation New Dawn in 2010-2011. He now pursues a civilian career in Georgia.

    Despite a 35-year long career, Lytle said he still doesn’t know where his destiny will take him, but he’s found that he’s enjoyed the Guard environment better than the Active Duty environment. He said there’s a higher standard of care for him in the Guard and that the peer-to-peer completion isn’t as hostile as it was in the Active Duty branch.

    “Once I’m done with serving my county in the Guard,” he said, “I’ll continue teaching Soldiers wisdom gained from 35 years of service. Beyond that, I’ll share wisdom with my writing.”



    Date Taken: 09.29.2017
    Date Posted: 09.29.2017 17:52
    Story ID: 250148
    Location: BOISE, ID, US 
    Hometown: MOUNTAIN HOME, ID, US

    Web Views: 918
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    Destiny fulfilled: Brig. Gen. Lytle reflects on his career as he retires