Barracks program puts Soldier safety first
March 29, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 27, 2013) -- According to IMCOM, since the summer of last year, more than two thirds of Installation Management Command posts have transitioned barracks management from the garrison back to NCO leadership -- and Fort Benning is among them.
The First Sergeant Barracks Program 2020 affected more than 70 barracks and nearly 1,200 Soldiers across the installation.
"I think it's great because it puts all the control back into the unit's hands," said 1st Sgt. Eric Ivey, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Maneuver Center of Excellence.
Implemented by the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, FSBP 2020 gives units supervisory control while garrisons provide auxiliary support when needed.
Ivey, who's been in the Army for more than 20 years, said that's the way it used to be less than a decade ago on Fort Benning. In March of 2012, the program reinstated NCOs to their original positions of direct responsibility in the barracks.
"Before, it was hard to keep updated with who was who and where they were living because you had to contact housing in order to find out where your Soldiers were," Ivey said. "Now since we have that information, we know where they're living and we're able to control and monitor all those areas."
Barracks are monitored both for maintenance issues and crime mitigation.
Currently on post, barracks crime is trending low, said Maj. Joseph LaBranche, operations officer for the Fort Benning Police Division
"The most common crime scenario is where a Soldier leaves his room to go somewhere like the store or off-post and leaves their room unsecured," he said. "Another Soldier knows he is gone and checks the room to see if he locked his door or window. If it's unsecured, the criminal enters the room and steals anything he or she thinks has value. Units have been doing a great job reinforcing to Soldiers the need to secure their property in their rooms and common areas. Unit leaders play a critical role in ensuring a safe environment for their Soldiers."
While larceny of private property is the most frequent crime in post barracks, sexual assault and violence occur to a lesser extent.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the Soldiers' quality of life, and the No. 1 issue for leaders, Ivey said, is safety.
In the two barracks Ivey manages, preventative measures against crime include automatically locking doors, quiet hours and senior Soldiers on each floor who can help keep order. The Soldier, usually a sergeant, can also assist with keeping things clean and handling maintenance requests.
Ivey said he's also made sure numbers are posted -- from the suicide hotline to the chain of command -- so a Soldier can get in touch when he or she needs help.
"Unit leaders play a critical role in ensuring a safe environment for their Soldiers," LaBranche said. "Having safe and secure barracks gives Soldiers comfort in a place they can call home."