By Jennifer Mattson, NCO JournalSeptember 5, 2012
Soldiers be warned -- first sergeants are coming into your barracks.
Installation Management Command is rolling out the First Sergeant Barracks Program 2020, which holds the company commander and first sergeant accountable for the barracks where their Soldiers live.
Installations across the Army are participating in FSBP 2020, including Fort Bliss, Texas, where Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Pandy, command sergeant major of the Fort Bliss garrison, is working with the 1st Armored Division and other resident units to implement the changes.
"Basically FSBP 2020 has units at the battalion level and below sign for their barracks," Pandy said.
By signing for their barracks, first sergeants and company commanders will be more involved, Pandy said.
"The NCOs and leaders involved will have direct oversight in signing out the rooms, maintaining the rooms, checking the room," Pandy said. "This is something [NCOs] should have been doing the entire time. But we weren't."
Under the old system, if a Soldier had a maintenance issue, the Soldier would call the work order hotline to send a request to contractors who would do the maintenance. The entire process could happen without ever holding the individual Soldier accountable because the commander or first sergeant might never know a work order was issued, Pandy said.
"With the old FSBP, there was the perception that the barracks belonged to [the contractors]," Pandy said. "That was not necessarily true; NCOs and those leaders were never told to get out of the barracks business. But for some reason, some units did better than others in being engaged in the issues that came from the barracks."
The new system replaces contractors, who acted as managers of the barracks, with Soldiers and NCOs.
"The company commander now 'owns' that property," Pandy said. "The Soldier now signs for it through his NCO channels."
Each brigade will have a housing support team consisting of a sergeant first class and, depending on the size of the brigade, four to five junior Soldiers. They will assign and move Soldiers to the barracks, and some will be delegated to conduct inspections.
"The NCOs and leaders involved have direct responsibility to ensure that there is good order and discipline in the barracks," Pandy said.
Under the old system, it was possible for Soldiers to damage Army equipment and not face any consequences. With rapid deployments and brigades on the move because of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act, many Soldiers weren't being held responsible for the damages in their barracks.
"We're in a better position now. If the barracks are being misused, we're in a better place to hold that Soldier accountable," Pandy said.
At some installations, Soldiers will have to move to new barracks, so that battalions and brigades can consolidate their footprints.
The plan should not require any additional strain on the company first sergeants, though brigade housing support teams will need additional training to conduct their new missions.
"There are no additional duties," Pandy said. "[NCOs] should've been in the barracks, anyway. If there was ever a perception that we weren't in the barracks as NCOs and as first sergeants, this -- commanders and leaders signing for property -- reminds us that [that perception] doesn't exist. It is our business, and we need to be involved and engaged and make sure our Soldiers are doing right in the barracks."