Local News

Army vows clean-up of dilapidated barracks

Posted April 30, 2008 2:12 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 6:27 p.m. EDT

— Stung by a online video showing a dilapidated barracks at Fort Bragg, Army Secretary Pete Geren and other top military officials vowed Wednesday to fix all barracks that have fallen into disrepair.

The move comes a week after the father of a Fort Bragg paratrooper posted a 10-minute video on YouTube.com that showed moldy ceilings, peeling paint, broken toilets and a flooded bathroom in his son's barracks.

Army officials said Tuesday they were inspecting every barracks building worldwide to see whether such problems are widespread.

"We've got old barracks throughout much of the Army, but old barracks are not an excuse for not meeting the needs of soldiers,"  Geren said Wednesday morning in a brief visit to Fort Bragg. "Everyone in this installation knows that the condition that they found (the barracks in) were not acceptable, and we're working to fix that."

He promised to reallocate resources to repair barracks, but he didn't specify where the money would come from or any timeline for making the needed repairs. He also wouldn't commit to providing soldiers with vouchers to pay for off-base quarters.

Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, was more blunt in his assessment of the situation.

"I don't have words that I can say on TV of how mad I was," Cody told CNN. "To have these heroes come back to that condition is uncalled for, (and) the Army leadership is not going to let this stand."

Edward Frawley, who posted the YouTube video, said he spoke with Cody over the weekend and was confident the needed repairs would be made.

"I've accomplished everything I needed to accomplish here because Gen. Cody is going to take care of it," Frawley said in a telephone interview from his Wisconsin home.

His son, Sgt. Jeff Frawley, and his company recently moved into the barracks after returning from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Fort Bragg officials said repairs were being made to the barracks, which were built in the 1950s, but that they weren't completed in time because the troops returned three weeks early.

Edward Frawley questioned that claim, saying the base had months to fix the barracks.

Geren said he was grateful to Edward Frawley for his initiative in raising awareness about the barracks' problems.

"That helped us understand that we need to reconsider our allocation of resources," he said. "It was (soldiers') job to get these barracks ready. They worked their tails off, and we need to do more to support them."

Twenty barracks on Fort Bragg will be razed and replaced in the next five years as part of a $300 million renovation project.

Edward Frawley said he never expected the firestorm he created by posting his video online.

"Every parent can relate to this, and that's why I think (the issue has) legs," he said.