CHIAfE+VRES, Belgium -- The new First Sergeant's Barracks Initiative - FSBI - rolled out across Installation Management Command-Europe on Sept. 1. The program affects the management of the single Soldiers barracks. However, the general principles of the program have already been in effect within the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux for several years.
Master Sgt. Michelle Kennedy-Gonzalez, ChiAfA..vres Garrison Noncommissioned Officer, explained what exactly the FSBI is. "In the past, the first sergeant would have all aspects of the barracks around him, he would assign rooms and things like that. With the FSBI, the housing office assigns and terminates rooms."
Kennedy-Gonzalez added that the first sergeant and the command sergeant major are still responsible for the health and well-being of the servicemembers in the barracks, but the FSBI allows the housing office to deal with some of the more mundane tasks of servicemembers living arrangements.
"The FSBI does not take away the authority of the first sergeants or the command sergeant majors to maintain the welfare of a servicemember in any way," said Kennedy-Gonzalez. "The initiative puts housing in charge of the barracks but the first sergeant and command sergeant major are still in charge of their personnel," she added.
The goal of FSBI is to improve barracks management and free the time of first sergeants who in turn can focus on training and other mission essential tasks for their Soldiers. FSBI takes the responsibility of day-to-day administrative operations away from units, and places the responsibility on the garrison staff in a style similar to property and apartment management offices, according to Command Sgt. Major Tracey Anbiya, IMCOM-Europe's senior enlisted leader.
Contrary to fears that FSBI takes leadership out of the barracks, Anbiya said that FSBI actually enhances leadership. "IMCOM-Europe's FSBI structure is an extension of unit leadership and will support unit first sergeants," said Anbiya. "Soldiers and first sergeants will continue to be responsible for Soldier discipline, health and welfare in the barracks. IMCOM-Europe garrisons are assuming responsibility for room assignments, key control, and other administrative duties."
Kennedy-Gonzalez said the FSBI program should also help expedite repairs to the building or a servicemembers quarters. "Since the housing office falls under the Directorate of Public Works, if something breaks we can call them in. The servicemember doesn't have to go to the first sergeant to get something fixed now," she said.
At least within the Benelux, the FSBI program will not only free up the first sergeants' time, it will free up the servicemembers time, at least when work orders are involved. The servicemember won't have to come to the room and sit and wait for the technician to arrive. Housing personnel will send someone to the room to escort the employee who is fixing whatever item the work order is for. That really frees up the servicemember's time," added Kennedy-Gonzalez.
The program is also designed to help standardize barracks management and contribute to the care and longevity of the buildings. FSBI is built upon Army leader's full involvement in the well-being of junior enlisted Soldiers living in the barracks. It will enhance the commander's ability to concentrate on his primary organizational missions, while still maintaining influence in the welfare of junior enlisted Soldiers.