In this edition of my leaders book note, I would like to address the Army initiatives to provide quality housing for Soldiers and Families. We must provide a quality of life for Soldiers and Families commensurate with the quality of service they provide to the Nation.

Unaccompanied Personnel Housing Program

Our barracks modernization program began in 1994 to provide all permanent party Soldiers with "1+1" or equivalent standard barracks. The Army will fund all permanent party barracks replacement construction by FY13 with construction completed by the end of FY15. The Army will fund all inadequate training barracks replacement construction by the end of FY15 with full occupancy expected by the end of FY17. The Army invested $13B since 1994 to present, and will invest another $10B to eliminate all inadequate barracks.

In FY 2008 under the Barracks Modernization Program, the Army funded $2.2 billion for Barracks construction, renovation, and modernization for our permanent party Soldiers. Army priority is funding construction of permanent party barracks with emphasis on replacing barracks with Common Area Latrines. Army leaders earlier this year inspected more than 146,499 barracks rooms to ensure life, health, and safety conditions met an amber rating for quality of life according to Executive Order 08-12 and FRAGOs 1. The Army will fund 48 projects in FY 08 to repair and upgrade immediate needs for barracks at 5 installations. The Army will resource the authorization of a Sergeant Major or Master Sergeant at 16 of the Army's largest installations to serve in the Directorate of Public Works.

The FY08 Supplemental funding received in addition to the Army budget will include $200M for permanent party and $50M for training barracks. Specifically, this Supplemental will fund 5 additional permanent party facilities and one training barracks facility. The Army will renovate 148 training barracks on 19 installations using the Training Barracks Improvement Program (TBIP) with an estimated completion date of November 2008.

The Army is a large organization, and we will continue to use and maintain aging barracks for a number of years until we fully complete our new construction. Approximately 35% of our existing barracks are World War II and Korean War era facilities. These old barracks require large investments of money to maintain and extend their life until replacement facilities are built. Installations will maintain old barracks to acceptable standards, or implement alternative measures, including allowing Soldiers to temporarily live off post until adequate barracks are available.

The Army will implement the First Sergeant's Barracks Initiative (FSBI) at 8 Army locations this year. FSBI is a key component of the Army's Barracks Strategic Plan and will standardize barracks management across our installations. The task and purpose of this program is to provide visibility to the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) personnel on needed repairs and maintenance in our Soldier's rooms and common areas. To provide this level of maintenance care, a barracks management office will issue keys to living quarters and maintain hand receipts for barracks furniture. When Soldiers leave the unit, this initiative ensures the living quarters are "reset" for the next Soldier by scheduling periodic painting and furniture replacement. This initiative greatly reduces the workload on 1SGs and their supply rooms to manage key control, furniture inventory and replacement, and maintenance like painting.

The FSBI program provides commanders and 1SGs with living quarters for all their Soldiers in their respective company areas, and when those areas are full, living quarters within the brigade footprint. This initiative ensures all Soldiers have a quality of life commensurate with the quality of service they provide to the Nation. Everyone who has served as a commander or 1SG knows and understands the challenges with "finding" additional space in their barracks for a new Soldier to the unit, which usually meant "doubling up" Soldiers in a room when their barracks were full.

In addition to the FSBI initiatives above, we revised barracks turnover and management for all barracks by relieving rear detachments from barracks responsibility during deployment. Garrisons are now responsible for resetting barracks during the unit's training, deployment, and redeployment. Garrisons will provide timely maintenance on old facilities until replacement construction is complete.

Noncommissioned Officers are responsible for the health and welfare of our Soldiers. First Sergeants and their noncommissioned officers still own the barracks! Maintaining barracks and our Soldier's quality of life begins with Commanders setting standards and their NCOs enforcing those standards (Barracks SOP). Commanders and their NCO leadership must answer these types of questions to establish their barracks standards; what is the daily standard of cleanliness and upkeep for common areas like latrines, hallways, stairwells and laundry rooms' What is the daily standard (weekend standard) in a Soldiers room for overall cleanliness, trash accumulation, linen cleanliness and washing requirements, amount of accumulation for dirty clothes, cleanliness of the refrigerator and microwave oven' The three-step process of how we grow leaders in the Army applies to barracks standards. Commanders establish standards; first line supervisors enforce and maintain those daily standards; and senior leaders hold first line supervisors accountable for their Soldiers. Even the mop closet in the barracks has a daily standard at 0900 each day; who performs that inspection' Only after commanders establish standards can their NCOs maintain and enforce the quality of life our Soldiers deserve.

First Line supervisors and team leaders are responsible for visibility, oversight, and supervision of their Soldiers in the barracks daily, throughout the week and periodically on weekends. Unit leaders are responsible for the visibility, oversight, and supervision of living conditions, daily upkeep and reporting repairs needed in these facilities. In many years of experience I have learned if senior NCOs (1SGs and PSGS) do not spend time in the barracks, junior NCOs will not spend the time checking and enforcing standards. I encourage battalion and Brigade commanders to walk through their barracks periodically, especially at night and on the weekends to see how their young Soldiers are living. We expect Commanders and their NCOs to visit Soldiers in their on-post and off-post housing units on a regular basis.

Soldiers and their leaders must be good stewards of the investment the Army has made in the construction and renovation of our barracks. Commanders and their leadership must supervise and enforce living conditions of our barracks in a manner that maintains and protects our long-term investment. We protect this investment, when needed, by holding Soldiers accountable for damage to barracks above and beyond fair wear and tear.

Our two basic responsibilities as NCOs are the accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of our Soldiers. The mission to fight and support the Global War on Terrorism challenges our Soldiers and leaders everyday. We execute thousands of missions in units across the Army everyday; we cannot let our focus drift from taking care of our Soldiers.

The Army relies on our local communities as the primary supplier of housing for our families. We will privatize or build housing at our posts, camps and stations here in CONUS locations as needed. To support our growth, Congress approved $266M in FY08 for government equity contributions for additional housing at Forts Bliss, Bragg, Carson, and Lewis. The Army requested $334M in FY09 for government equity contributions for additional housing at Forts Bliss, Carson, and Stewart. Installations may utilize domestic leases in the local communities at select locations until affordable off-post or additional on-post housing is available.

Privatization of Family Housing through the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) Program

The Army privatized more than 77,000 homes at 36 installations, with 13,823 newly constructed homes and 11,227 total renovations. RCI privatization projects will provide more than 89,000 homes at 45 installations upon completion.

All Soldiers, leaders and their Families have the responsibility to maintain and improve the appearance of our housing and RCI communities. A best practice observed by a garrison Commander/CSM with the full support of the senior mission/installation commander and CSM, and partnering with the RCI provider, involved getting leaders from tenant units on the installation to routinely walk though their housing and RCI communities. In this best practice, the garrison CSM took the lead and met with senior NCO representatives from every tenant unit on the installation on Tuesdays to walk through a housing area or subdivision. This leadership "walk-about" of 15 Senior CSMs and 1SGs is very visible and praised by the residents. The initiative allows leaders to take immediate responsibility for those Soldiers and Families not in compliance with housing policies. The initiative immediately teaches what right looks like to the residents and the unit leaders present; and through this leadership, publicizes trends and concerns with Soldiers in the unit. The RCI provider welcomed and supported the installation leadership as part of this initiative. The installation leadership fixed all of their housing problems through direct intervention by the unit and by maintaining a recurring presence in the community. Visiting a housing area or subdivision of a large housing area allowed the leadership to see all quarters once every six months or twice a year.

The Army has expanded the RCI model to pilot an Unaccompanied Senior Enlisted/Officer Quarters (USEQ/UOQ) facility at 5 installations to provide adequate/affordable on-post/off-post rental housing. The five installations piloting the apartment style residential communities are Forts Irwin, Drum, Bragg, Stewart and Bliss. These communities will provide housing for single senior Soldiers, SSG and above including officers. This program includes a total of 1,396 1 bedroom/1 bath and 2-bedroom/2-bath apartments for a total of 1,804 accommodations.

Lodging Programs

The Army fully renovated Army Lodging guest rooms at 11 CONUS and 3 OCONUS installations. The Army constructed and opened Army lodging hotels at Dugway Proving Ground, UT; Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Eustis, VA; Fort Wainwright, AK; Fort Hamilton, NY; Fort Knox, KY; and Camp Carroll, Korea. New Army lodging hotels are under construction at Fort Jackson, SC; Camp Humphreys, Korea; Chievres, BE; Vicenza, Italy; Hohenfels, Grafenwoehr, Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden, Germany.

We must provide a quality of life for Soldiers and Families commensurate with the quality of service they provide to the Nation.

Thanks for all that you do for the Nation and for the Army. Army Strong!