The Army is continuing its seemingly uphill battle against mold and other ailments affecting its buildings as we move into 2023, after extending the deadline on the 100% inspection of facilities it ordered in October.
The service announced the inspection after a series of reports by Military.com revealed endemic mold issues impacting soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At Fort Bragg, the conditions at antiquated barracks on Smoke Bomb Hill were so dire that 1,200 soldiers were relocated a week after a surprise inspection from the Army’s top NCO, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.
Originally, the inspection of all facilities was supposed to be complete by Nov. 18, according to an internal Army order obtained by Army Times. But that proved too short of a timeline.
The service extended the deadline to Jan. 18, an Army spokesperson said. The later deadline will allow local officials across the service more time, and it will also leave time for service-level facilities planners to consider the new data when updating its Facilities Investment Plan at a major conference in late January.
“At the end of January 2023, we’re going to come together with all the senior commanders and we’re going to go over every installation’s [facilities] priorities across the active Army,” said Paul Schaefer, a deputy director of logistics at Army Materiel Command who leads the investment plan.
He explained that the new data collected as part of the review — which will use a new system of metrics intended to assist analysts — will help the service decide which projects need to happen first and “is tied directly into the budgeting process.”
Schaefer added that the command is working to improve its analytics so officials can more accurately project facility deterioration and future maintenance costs. The service has more than $19 billion in deferred maintenance costs alone, according to a partial study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office.
“We have so little money to get after all these problems,” explained the facilities plan lead. “We need to make sure that we are laser-focused and getting after those problems...[as effectively and as] efficiently as possible”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.