State News

Army secretary: Soldiers moved from eight barracks after review

Posted May 7, 2008

— Two weeks after an online video depicting squalid conditions at a Fort Bragg barracks spawned a worldwide investigation into U.S. soldiers' living conditions, some troops have been moved to new quarters.

U.S. Army Secretary Pete Geren said Wednesday that eight living units were in such bad shape that the eight soldiers who occupied them were moved to other quarters. He declined to say whether any of those were at Fort Bragg, though other officials said they were not.

"We didn't find any looming danger to their health and safety, but we found eight quarters that we did not feel were proper for them," said Geren, who was at Fort Bragg to dedicate a first-of-its-kind apartment complex for unmarried soldiers.

A video made by the father of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper showed moldy ceilings and showers, peeling paint, an open sewage pipe, broken toilet seats and a flooded bathroom. After the video was posted on YouTube.com, Geren and other Army officials vowed to repair dilapidated barracks.

After inspecting its 148,000 barracks at posts around the world, the Army has dedicated $248 million to improve the maintenance of aging barracks. Fort Bragg will get $2.9 million of that total.

Geren said the Army has also expanded a pilot program that dedicates a team exclusively to the maintenance of living quarters. The teams report directly to a base commander.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole introduced a bill last week to transfer responsibility for barracks maintenance from the unit assigned to the building to the dedicated maintenance teams. The plan would make certain that all barracks are in decent shape even while a unit is deployed, she said.

Some installations also could use private contractors to clean and repair barracks, Geren said.

"Some places, they might need to do that, but they'll have the flexibility to do whatever it takes to make sure the soldiers get what they need," he said.

The 312 apartments in the new Randolph Pointe complex are targeted at unmarried soldiers at the rank of staff sergeant or above. Previously, they had to find quarters off base.

"This is just another step in our efforts to give our soldiers a quality of life they deserve," Geren said.

Lower-ranking single soldiers, from sergeant down, will continue to live in barracks at Fort Bragg.

The complex was developed by Picerne Military Housing, which manages family housing at the base.

The furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments are within walking distance of a post exchange store. The complex will have a clubhouse with wireless Internet access, workout rooms, televisions and an outdoor pool and volleyball courts.

Rent paid to Picerne from the soldiers' monthly housing allowance will include utilities, appliances, 24-hour maintenance and $10,000 worth of renter's insurance, the military said.

Each of the 22 Korean War-era barracks on Fort Bragg will be razed and replaced by 2013.

15 Comments

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  • Z Man May 8, 2008

    gsmith275492 and hondaman have this in perspective (my perspective anyway).

    I maintain my house. I cut the grass, my wife and I do the dishes, clean the bathrooms. I take the trash out and fix problems as they arise. I painted my house and detached garage. Why aren't the soldiers doing the same? They're not all overseas.

    What next? Maids? Concierge service?

  • superman May 8, 2008

    Sounds like a cry baby father to me. What ever happened to the old spit, shine and polish army we use to have. Why are they not reponsible for cleaning up their own? Guess we need to get a Holiday Inn maid service for these guys. If it was so bad why didnt they do something themselves instead of crying. Glad they not defending me!

  • Axtel May 7, 2008

    Only the best for the men and women willing to die for our country! Seriously....our soldiers deserve better than this! The bureaucrats should be ashamed!! But this is an election year so it will get some press....but after..they won't care!
    Noowirehangers

    Didn't take to long for someone to put a liberal spin on this. Tell about living conditions to our Combat Veterans in the field. Yes, Noowirehangers is right as well as everyone else is here. They deserve the best, but you had to put a political spin on it. Shame on you.

  • MizzZeta May 7, 2008

    I guess I'm wondering why something like this has to become publicized in the media before action is taken. I mean, if there are resources to make the repairs now, why weren't the repairs made in a timely manner? We have to take care of the people who take care of us. Even one building in disrepair is too many.

  • lilbit278 May 7, 2008

    way to go Sen. Dole...our men and women should be looked after

  • Worland May 7, 2008

    The barracks in question were under repair. The troops came home earlier than expected. What the heck is the big deal? It's in work!

    I've been in the military a long time. Most of our barracks are new. Only a few here and there are old and have issues. The old ones should have been replaced in the 1990's, but budget cuts slowed building remodel/replacements to a crawl. Bullets and beans are more important than new buildings.

    If you want to blame someone for the condition of the barracks, blame yourselves. What have you done for a soldier lately?

  • WRALblows May 7, 2008

    This story might be newsworthy if the title was "800 soldiers forced to move from barracks". Sentiments to the troops but what's next? "6 Soldiers brushed their teeth"? Hardly news, informative, or sensational.

  • tmedlin May 7, 2008

    My son stayed in old barracks in Norfolk, but I was AMAZED at how nice they were. I've talked to other moms of soldiers at Fort Bragg, and they say there are only a couple of buildings that are bad, although there are quite a few that are being torn down and replaced. I just don't understand why they aren't being inspected before plopping our soldiers into them...SOMEBODY is dropping the ball!

  • 5-113 FA Retired May 7, 2008

    I guess soldiers are no longer required to take care of their ownj living quarters. About 75% of the complaint lists maintenance tasks soldiers used to take care of themselves. And yes, NCO's are responsible to take care of their own, even if it involves having them clean up after themselves. And that includes painting, replacing floor tiles, window glass and snaking drains. The absence of accountability to manage maintenance needs of living quarters falls on the heads of NCO's AND their subordinates. Last time I checked, there is no shortage of cleaning and painting supplies at Ft. Bragg. Quit whining and get to work! This ain't club med.

  • RonnieR May 7, 2008

    Heck, according to the other part of the article, the Non-Coms
    don't even live in the barracks any more. So no wonder!

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