By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Jackson)October 19, 2018
Aesthetics and the Army don't always go hand-in-hand, but keeping Fort Jackson beautiful is a priority of the installation. A new system was implemented in September to keep post looking its best.
The Area Beautification Program assigns units a part of post they are responsible for maintaining. It maps out boundaries for each unit to upkeep so no areas are neglected.
The year-round effort will complement the annual Army-wide fall and spring clean-ups.
The appearance of post is important to Fort Jackson's 5,000-9,000 weekly visitors, said Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Wilson, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"(The appearance of post) is the first impression," added Post Command Sgt. Major Jerimiah Gan, native of Crocker, Missouri.
Many who arrive at Fort Jackson have never stepped foot on a military installation, Gan said.
The Army's image is at stake.
Having a beautiful installation is in keeping with the Army way, said Staff Sgt. David Strelow, of Morristown, Tennessee.
Strelow knows a thing or two about keeping Fort Jackson beautiful.
He works with Basic Combat Training Soldiers and drill sergeants during "detail week" doing improvement and maintenance projects.
As a Soldier, "you kind of have a higher standard" to live up to, Strelow said. Properly caring for the installation goes hand-in-hand with these elevated expectations.
It's important to keep post clean so Soldiers can proudly show off Fort Jackson to their Families, Strelow added.
That is why there is constant, ongoing maintenance, Wilson said.
At any given time, there is bound to be someone out picking up trash, mowing lawns, removing weeds or doing other odd jobs.
Upkeeping the land has sometimes proved problematic in the past.
The ABP was the answer.
The project parcells the installation into segments, "like a giant jigsaw puzzle," Gan said. Fort Jackson's main units are assigned to clean and maintain certain portions of post year-round.
Wilson said it simplifies the system.
The program clarifies the boundaries each unit is responsible for, Gan explained.
Each sergeant major enforces adherence to the clean-up schedule, he added.
Removing waste and performing basic landscaping is part of the job description.
Fort Jackson area beautification is to be "shared equally."
The cantonment area is broken down into four quadrants. Range and training areas are divided into three parts.
"Every building, road and gate within the cantonment area will be assigned to a unit," the order states. "Ranges and training areas used frequently and on a repetitive and daily basis will be assigned to a unit."
Roads -- inside and immediately outside of Fort Jackson -- and gate entrances have also been divvied up.
Everyone on post, not just units with formal assignments, can play a role in beautifying the region.
"When you see trash, pick it up," Wilson said.
It's an "ongoing, everyday thing," Gan added. It's all a part of the "unit pride" and "high standards" Fort Jackson is known for. Everyone on post "needs to take pride and ownership" in how the land is maintained.
"Many hands make light work," Gan said.
That is also the theory for the Army's biannual cleanups.
Every year, one is held in fall, and one in spring.
This autumn's spans from Oct. 18 through Nov. 15.
A map assigns each unit extra regions to clean. It gives them a chance to "flex (their) manpower," Gan said.
Post schools and locations like the Strom Thurmond Building then have the chance for more thorough maintenance.
During this year's fall cleanup, Strelow said the focus is largely on the gates and the single soldier complex.
The project will help keep up the good work year-round.
There have been some challenges so far.
Hurricanes Florence and Michael have both passed through Columbia since the program began.
They added some atypical tasks to the agenda, such as removing wind-downed tree limbs, Gan said.
The storms also diverted power from cleaning to jobs revolving around emergency services.
Still, progress is unfolding.
"We always come together," Wilson said.