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Barracks overhaul plan on track for Army as Congress boosts funding

Davis Winkie

An area of the 1600 block of the cantonment area of Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, on March 26, 2020, where a new barracks is being built. (Army/ Scott Sturkol) (Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office
The Army’s nearly $10 billion barracks overhaul initiative is still on track, the service says, despite fears early on that funding would be lost due to cuts in the Biden administration’s initial budget proposal.

Lawmakers previously expressed concern during a June budget hearing that the Army wouldn’t be able to execute its ambitious $9.6 billion plan to overhaul and replace substandard barracks by 2030.

Since then, both the House and Senate have taken steps to increase the housing-related funding available for the service in fiscal 2022, though the changes aren’t law yet.

A House panel approved a military construction bill that would authorize seven more barracks construction projects than the Biden administration had requested, effectively doubling the military construction funds for barracks in fiscal 2022. The Senate Appropriations Committee will debate military construction funds this week.

Another Senate panel indicated it would approve the Army’s entire “unfunded requirements” list, which is how the service asks Congress for priority items that were not included in the official budget request.

Funding the entire list would allow the Army to execute 14 housing and transient barracks projects beyond the Biden budget request at a cost of more than $532 million. Defense News — a sister publication of Army Times — obtained a copy of the Army’s FY 2022 unfunded requirements list.

The projects funded through these funding increases would replace or repair reception barracks at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; AIT barracks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and Fort Rucker, Alabama; transient barracks at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; and permanent party facilities at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Fort Polk, Louisiana. The National Guard would also gain new training barracks in Nebraska and Louisiana.

Despite Congress leaping into action to increase funding for the barracks improvement initiative, the Army says the effort is essentially budget cut-proof and could have stayed on track even without the additional funds beyond the president’s budget request.

“The Army’s Facility Investment Plan request of approximately $9.6B over the next decade for restoration and modernization of barracks is based on a combination of [military construction and] restoration and modernization funding,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Kelley, an Army spokesperson, in an email to Army Times.

Kelley explained that only around ten percent — approximately $1 billion — of the initiative’s funding will come from military construction funds, and that the rest will come from the service’s restoration and modernization funds.

“In addition to the $262M of military construction funding requested in the FY22 President’s Budget request for barracks, the Army forecasts spending $461M of Restoration and Modernization (R&M) funding to overhaul barracks in FY22,” Kelley said, adding that R&M funding can be “re-prioritized” by Army leaders as-needed.

“The Army is continually reviewing its barracks requirements and exploring all practical options for cost-effective solutions for quality single Soldier housing,” said Kelley. “We appreciate any support Congress is able to provide us to meet our objectives.”

Defense News land warfare reporter Jen Judson contributed to this story.


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