Army-wide barracks program improves Soldier quality of life
October 4, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 4, 2012) -- A new Army-wide program has been set in place that changes the way barracks are run on installations, and Fort Rucker garrison leadership said it will improve the quality of life for Soldiers that reside in unaccompanied housing.
The First Sergeants Barracks Program 2020 is designed to give units resources, training and responsibility while ensuring the quality of life standards established by IMCOM are met.
"In a nutshell, [the Army] is going to put military organizations back in charge of the barracks," said Command Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland, Fort Rucker garrison command sergeant major. "It was felt that units have gotten out of the business of maintaining the barracks and maintaining a good order of discipline in those barracks, but I don't believe we've had this problem so much on Fort Rucker."
Previously, garrisons directly controlled the barracks and were responsible for the room assignments and maintenance of the facilities. Under FSBP 2020, mission units provide room assignments and Soldiers identify issues and inefficiencies in a more direct manner to their leadership, while ensuring consistency across the Army.
FSBP 2020 builds upon three core principles: supporting the mission, taking care of Soldiers and using resources wisely, said Suzanne Harrison, acting chief of the OACSIM Army Housing Division.
"It also allows us to fulfill our commitment to the Army Family Covenant, [the Army's formal commitment to Soldiers and their Families] by taking care of Soldiers," Harrison said. "It gives us the structure to do that and the commitment across the Army -- and not just an installation function -- so FSBP 2020 is a total Army effort."
"Our part of that in garrison operations is to partner with the units to help them manage that [responsibility]," said Noland, "and some of the things we're going to do as part of the garrison staff is to help maintain the quality of life and wellbeing of single Soldiers that are living in the unaccompanied housing."
The program was developed, with the endorsement of the chief of staff of the Army, to clarify roles and responsibilities at the garrisons and by the mission units, according to Harrison.
Through FSBP 2020, mission units will be the face of operations for their barracks.
"[The program is] creating this partnership between the military unit, the housing professionals and the directorate of public works staff," said Harrison.
"The success of the program depends on a continued solid relationship between my unit housing people [here on Fort Rucker] and the unit leadership," said Noland. "We're going to work with the units to help them understand their role in the barracks under the centralized barracks management approach."
NCO leadership is particularly important to the program's success. The management of an average brigade-size barracks will require five mission unit Soldiers and one Army civilian, according to estimates. Housing staff at the garrison will provide on-the-job training and mentorship to those new to managing barracks, Harrison said.
"The Installation Management Command is committed to making sure that they provide the needed program oversight and training that goes along with executing the program for the military unit," she said.
Organizers hope this transition will strengthen the military culture in the barracks by having NCOs involved in daily operations.
According to Shenise Foster, OACSIM liaison for the Army Housing Division, local housing offices can help first sergeants with any questions about FSBP 2020.
Although there will be a change in responsibility, organizers say, the Army's commitment to providing a quality unaccompanied housing program to Soldiers around the world will remain intact.
"Fort Rucker was pretty much ahead of the game and ahead of other installations with this program because we were already doing this," said Noland, "but I think it will improve the overall condition and maintenance of the barracks, quality of life for the Soldiers, and it will make sure that all the unaccompanied housing is a safe and pleasant place to stay for them while stationed here at Fort Rucker."