The Role of Army Installations

Article excerpt

Army installations are changing. Technological advancements and the need to become more efficient and effective are the driving force. The role of installations has changed significantly as well. No longer merely deployment platforms and support for the well-being of soldiers and their families, installations now provide continuous support from the home station to foxhole and back. What has also changed is the criticality and duration of support provided to deployed forces and the level of technology integration used. Essentially, installations are flagships. From the installations, we project power and sustain an expeditionary Army. These flagships will use more multipurpose, adaptive facilities that maximize the economical and functional benefits of standardization.

As the Army approaches an unprecedented level of change and technology integration, installations will experience a corresponding increase in activity and change in business processes, roles and responsibilities.

We are simultaneously and aggressively implementing facility modernization through several Army initiatives like the focused facility strategy. We are also, where it makes sense, integrating installation services with the surrounding community as we develop an even stronger environment of civil-military community relations. The objective is to develop and transform into a system of installation capabilities and resources to support a continental U.S.-based projection of forces. Not all of these changes, however, are readily visible on an installation.

There are two significant factors or timelines driving installation change: modularity and transformation. Let's look at some changes that are more visible and some that were there all the time but too subtle to notice.

What is modularity? We are adapting our force structure to meet current operational tempo (OPTEMPO) requirements. Central to modularity is the necessity to increase the number of maneuver elements in our force structure where the habitual support "slice" for deploying brigade task forces into a combined arms brigade is incorporated. Increasing the number of maneuver elements available for rotation reduces soldier deployment OPTEMPO and improves the well-being of soldiers and their families. To house, train, maintain and sustain a growing Army capability, we must change the way installations operate, giving their appearance a new look.

The first priority remains supporting installation missions as we implement modularity. Coupled with enhancing the Army's force projection from installations, we are rapidly proceeding to enhance our ability to support an increasing force structure from 33 maneuver brigades to 43 brigade combat teams (BCTs).

Beginning with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., in 2004, we started using temporary or modular construction to meet the Army's accelerated implementation timelines. When permanent stationing decisions are made, we will replace these temporary facilities with permanent construction. We are completing as much construction as possible while soldiers are deployed to reduce disruption.

There has also been significant attention focused on soldiers' barracks this past year, and it is an essential factor in increasing the number of maneuver brigades. On an individual level, barracks rooms are perhaps the most visible and personal service we provide to our soldiers-their homes. The latest 1+1 barracks standard provides greater space and privacy along with telephone and cable-ready receptacles. New or renovated barracks also contain higher quality furniture, more washing machines and clothes dryers, and increased parking along with greater open space and outdoor recreational facilities. Unfortunately, not all of the Army's barracks are adequate.

The Department of Defense goal is to modernize all permanent party barracks to the 1+1 standard by 2008. Between fiscal years 1994 and 2004, the Army invested more than $6 billion in the barracks modernization program, which included other facilities associated with barracks such as company, battalion and brigade headquarters, dining facilities and other soldier support facilities. …