Marine Corps barracks renovation plan, construction scrutinized by Congress

Marine Corps barracks renovation plan, construction scrutinized by Congress

Some members of Congress criticized the low or lack of new construction of Marine barracks and family housing during Thursday’s hearing, citing poor maintenance and quality of life issues for soldiers.

“The lack of quality-of-life projects in this year’s budget request is disappointing, to say the least,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. It’s very unfortunate.” “Will there be no need for new construction in these high-priority areas?”

Wasserman Schultz cited a September 2023 Government Accountability Office report that showed widespread housing problems across the military, including mold, malfunctioning plumbing, and a lack of winter heating and summer air conditioning. .

The Marine Corps has addressed some of these and other issues last year and in its pending fiscal year 2025 budget request, but has not yet addressed any new construction projects.

Lt. Gen. Edward Banta, deputy commander for facilities and logistics, presented the Corps’ plans with Meredith Berger, assistant secretary of the Navy for facilities, energy and environment.

The plan includes the Corps’ Long-Term Barracks 2030 initiative, which recently completed a wall-to-wall inspection of the barracks. Banta said the Marine Corps is awaiting the results of that investigation to better understand the condition of the Corps’ 658 barracks buildings.

An estimated 87,000 Marines live in barracks.

Broadly speaking, about 83% of these buildings are in “fairly good condition” and 17% are not, Banta said.

The Corps is requesting $274 million in the current budget to fix problems at the facility. The company added an additional $65 million to its “funded priority list.” The list is used to draw Congress’ attention to items that could have received more funding but were not able to secure it.

But even that sum pales in comparison to the amount the service would need to restore the barracks to “good/fair” condition.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.) pointed out that the Corps has a $15.8 billion maintenance backlog and would need $1.5 billion annually to maintain its barracks.

“This reveals a huge gap in the budget,” Bishop said.

Banta acknowledged the disparity and said the Corps is prioritizing restoration and modernization in deciding which barracks to keep and which to demolish. The military is asking for $61 million to plan and design future barracks and other military facilities.

Separately, Marine Corps Chief Petty Officer Carlos Ruiz addressed the housing issue in remarks Monday at the Naval Federation’s Sea, Air and Space Conference near Washington.

Lewis noted that in the past, the Corps has chosen to spend money on new weapons and platforms rather than infrastructure needs.

That has changed.

“We’re transparent about it. The decision not to invest in your building because for you to go home and for you to win, we needed to buy these platforms. ,” Lewis said at the meeting. “But now is the time to do both. It’s okay to ask for both.”

In written remarks and comments during Wednesday’s House hearing on the Navy and Marine Corps’ total budget, Commandant General Eric Smith outlined some of what has been done so far regarding housing.

The Corps aims to introduce civilian management of military housing by October, which will see each barracks building have a civilian manager over the next two years.

That would mean more than 500 Marine Corps noncommissioned officers currently serving as barracks managers would return to their regular military jobs, Smith wrote.

In recent years, the service has spent an average of more than $200 million a year on barracks repairs and modernization, Smith wrote. He requested funding to renovate 30 barracks buildings in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, and an additional 13 buildings in fiscal year 2024.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government, and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for his co-authored project on witness intimidation. Todd is a veteran of the Iraq War.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *