By Sgt. A.M. LaVey/16th MP Bde. PAOFebruary 15, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Soldiers living in the barracks have seen a recent change in the way the barracks are being run at Fort Bragg and around the Army. Noncommissioned officers have reclaimed the responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the bachelor enlisted quarters.
In 2008, a YouTube video was posted by the father of a redeploying 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, showing the poor conditions of the barracks that the Soldier was forced to live in. Since then Army leadership has ordered a revision of barracks management responsibility and created what is now known as the First Sergeant Barracks Program.
According to the Facility Leader Action Guide, a document put out by the Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works Housing Division, the FSBP "is the Department of the Army's Program that, in partnership with the chain of command, transfers the responsibility of the day-to-day barracks' operations from the assigned units to the garrison staff."
"Originally the program was designed to remove the added responsibility of room assignment, maintenance and property accountability from the first sergeants," said 1st Sgt. Charles D. Neikirk, first sergeant of the HHC, 16th Military Police Bde.
That program went live in March 2009 and continued until November 2012, when defense fiscal constraints made the program financially unfeasible.
Enter the NCOs.
While NCOs have always had the responsibility of overseeing their Soldier's quarters, it had been three years since they actively managed the barracks as a whole and very few had experienced the FSBP.
"Our job is to make sure that everything maintains just the same. It's just changing over from civilians to (Soldiers,) everything else should remain the same," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric L. Stokes, a logistician with the 16th MP Bde., and noncommissioned officer in charge of the 16th MP Bde and Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps barracks.
Fort Bragg barracks are now broken down into 11 areas and each of those areas is further divided into different units. Each area has a civilian worker who is the liaison between the barracks NCOICs and DPW.
"I make sure that the barracks reporting is being done and that we are following Army regulations for proper barracks unitization … so that we don't go back to where we were before we took over as civilians," said Klaus J. Meckenstock, the area manager who works with the 16th MP Bde/HHB. and the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade barracks' NCOICs.
"It's a full time job for me and my team," said Stokes. "Not only are we in- and out-processing them into military housing, but we also do basic maintenance which cuts waiting time due to not having to submit works to DPW for something minor."
Stokes and his team work in barracks management full time. Before the handover, Stokes and his team had to take classes in everything from processing work orders to basic carpentry in order to be certified.
"You need to have a responsible, self-started motivated NCO who is willing to work," said Meckenstock.
"This program will keep you busy eight hours a day no problem -- sun up to sun down. It's dealing with the plumber, the electrician, the carpenter -- it's not an easy job."