By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJune 21, 2013
Unit integrity, safety and security of servicemembers stationed on post should improve thanks to a change in living assignments in Mcree Barracks, according to garrison leadership.
The adjustment, which occurred June 1, involved 210 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines moving into the same location in the barracks as troops within their respective units.
"You operate more efficiently when you have your units aligned," said Sgt. 1st Class Antoine Glasper, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Element Troop Command South Mcree Barracks noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "This move makes sure that you're partnered up with people within your unit and ideally that unit develops a battle buddy mentality."
Mcree barracks consist of six buildings with 36 towers, according to Glasper. The towers separate areas within the buildings where servicemembers live together in groups. Prior to the move, servicemembers were assigned to a tower and room based on availability, which lead to personnel from different units living in the same towers. Placing members from the same units together in a tower benefits servicemembers and their commanders, Glasper said.
In terms of commanders, each unit has a first sergeant who is responsible for the overall quality of the tower. Each unit also has designated barracks NCOs living in the towers who supervise the servicemembers. With the units living together, the first sergeant and barracks NCO can communicate orders more efficiently. They also know for sure when their unit is the source of issues such as noise violations or cleanliness.
"Now commanders know exactly who is under their authority," Glasper said. "Everybody knows who's in charge."
For servicemembers, the change presents better opportunities to develop camaraderie within in their units. Some servicemembers might have felt isolated in a tower because they were living with personnel they didn't know prior to the move, Glasper said. Now they're living in a tower filled with people they work with on daily basis and if they have Family, work or personal issues they can express their problems with the barracks NCO or a battle buddy.
Garrison leaders also hope this move will help prevent sexual harassment and assault crimes.
"If the servicemember has an issue they know they can go to their barracks NCO or a member in their unit," Glasper said. "Living in the same tower as their battle buddies should make them feel more comfortable."
The barracks move is part of the First Sergeants Barracks Program 2020, which is an initiative to help first sergeants maintain barracks, good discipline, health and welfare inspections, and command and control.
The First Sergeants Barracks Program 2020 is designed to give units resources, training and responsibility while ensuring the quality of life standards established by Installation Management Command are met.
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 Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management Army Housing Division.
The change to living assignments in Mcree Barracks is the final push of this initiative and will allow first sergeants to hold their units more accountable, according to Anthony Lewis, Mcree and Warrior Transition Battalion manager.
"First sergeants are in charge of the units. Now when they come into the barracks, they know exactly what's under their control," Lewis said. "Servicemembers now how have a direct contact with their chain of command. I think this is going to be working pretty well."