Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Ft. Bragg Barracks scandal 
I missed this when it first came out, but Joe Galloway, veteran military correspondent, is hopping mad.

The latest outrage is a father's video of a U.S. Army barracks at Fort Bragg, N.C., the home of the 82nd Airborne Division.
It shows the quarters where his soldier son and other soldier sons were sent to live upon their return from combat. Mold and mildew and peeling paint are bad enough, but what about a big barracks bathroom ankle-deep in raw sewage?
Scandals like this latest one and an earlier eruption of public outrage over the miserably maintained quarters where wounded soldiers were warehoused at Walter Reed Army Hospital are an indictment of the core competency of our Army.
If the Army cannot afford to maintain minimally decent standards of housing and feeding our soldiers - and treat them with the best medical care and all the loving attention they deserve when they're wounded in combat - then, by God, the Army doesn't deserve to have ANY soldiers at all.

Indeed. Although I'm sure, with Big Army's usual "go to hell" attitude towards Guardsmen and reservists, that same barracks has been cleared of Active Duty troops and converted to a reserve or Guard barracks facility.

On the other hand, the Army's been warning about this since the base closure commission was formed in 1989...nearly 20 years ago! The military has a limited budget for physical plants, and has been wanting to consolidate operations and consolidate physical plants the whole time. But no one in Congress wants the base in his or her district to close. So we have a gazillion bases, many of which are just job protection programs for congressional districts.

That's a cancer that eats away at soldiers' quality of life, and here is where we pay the price.

Sure, maybe the base commander should have caught it, via his NCO support channel. That doesn't mean he had the resources to fix it.

The base commander screwed up. But he's one of the last links on a very long chain of abuses that starts in Washington, D.C.


I do agree the backed up bathroom plumbing and the raw sewage through the water fountain pipes should have been fixed by base maintence via work orders. I fail to see why we should blame the Army on the rest though. What ever happened to a health and welfare inspection? When I was on Bragg and complained about the paint peeling in my bathroom, they sent me to a 'fixit closet' to draw paint. I blame the Army, the NCO Support Chain and the soldiers unless of course 6-BOSS failed. Then it all failed.
As a young troop, I took similar accomodations in stride - part of the 'adventure' of the army. Now, being older/less tolerant I might be inclined to see what a call to a Congressman would get happening...
Certainly the dad's presentation worked as intended, & he got results. But he was over the top.

This story told me that Bragg must have finally demolished all of the 'Old Div Area' shitty 2 story wood WW2 barracks * that we stayed in before/after deployment in the 90's.

The story also is missing a very important word that would show that the reporter did his job -'transient housing' (or it's current equivalent). If you are staying there for 2 weeks, it's not that big a deal.

* Like the ones in "Stripes" or "The Green Berets".
There's much missing from Galloway's overdramatized finger-pointing piece. As a former Fort Bragg resident myself, it's not beyond belief that there were problems with the old infrastructure. But Galloway's piece is 90% volcanic eruption based on a minimum description of an obvious problem. Worse, he failed utterly to link the video so we might see for ourselves. Worse yet, his silence is deafening when we come to the part we're most curious about: how/when was it discovered, to whom reported, what measures were taken to fix it and how long did the fix take? And where did the troops stay while the fix was underway?

In my time in Fort Bragg under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, the Post Engineer was available by phone for such fixes because those barracks had frequent problems, and our Sergeant Major could bring intense pee on laggard responses. In my opinion, Galloway's so relishing his 'gotcha' that he's deliberately omitting the parts of the story that might show the repair crews in a good light. Sure, he huffs and puffs and prescribes 'coulda shoulda' policies for others to follow, but such grandstanding isn't news - it's bluster after the problem's already fixed. The facts, sir, please, just the facts.

HQ Co, 92nd Engr Batt (Const), 5th Logistical Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Ann'y 2... Nope Old D are still around but SWCS has taken over a lot of them.
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