Army eyes ‘massive’ budget increase to tackle troops horrid living conditions – 24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today

Army eyes ‘massive’ budget increase to tackle troops horrid living conditions – Latest International Breaking News Today

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The Army is asking Congress for a large budget increase to fund an improvement to the service’s barracks buildings that home junior troops, who have for years complained of almost dire living conditions in government-provided housing at installations across the world.

The Army’s proposed budget for fiscal 2025 would see a “massive increase” in funding for the barracks, bumping the funds used to tackle the improvement of the service’s living quarters from $1.5 billion to $2.365 billion while seeking to triple its budget to construct new barracks buildings, according to a report from Military.com that was confirmed by Fox News Digital.

If approved by Congress, the branch’s overall $185.9 billion budget would mark an increase of just 0.2% over the previous year but would signal a continued shift in priorities for the nation’s largest military branch, which seeks to alleviate a recruiting crisis that has seen the Army fall short of its goals by thousands of recruits in recent years.

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“Despite an overall flat Army budget and many competing resource requirements, we are significantly increasing funding for barracks construction, restoration and modernization,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told Military.com. “We will continue to work with Congress to make barracks a long-term investment priority as the Army still faces a significant maintenance backlog in our large inventory of aging barracks.”

The report comes as the Army has been under increased pressure to improve the living conditions of junior troops, most notably after an October Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that troops living in barracks have seen buildings with pests, such as roaches and bed bugs, and toxic waste, raising concerns about the health and safety of service members. The report also found that some barracks had fallen victim to apparent squatters, with pictures showing rooms that contained belongings of people that were not authorized to be in the buildings.

Other photos from the report showed sewage overflowing, cracked sewage pipes, water damage, and mold or mildew growth. The report also noted that in one extreme example, officials at one Army installation told investigators that “service members are responsible for cleaning biological waste that may remain in a barracks room after a suicide.”

Military barracks squatter possessions

This GAO report photo shows the possessions of an unauthorized person in a military barracks room. (Government Accountability Office)

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But the Army’s new budget request is an attempt for the service to rectify the issue, with a branch spokesperson telling Fox News Digital that almost a billion of the funds will go to building brand new barracks buildings, while nearly $700 million will be allowed for “barracks sustainment.”

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“This significant investment in our barracks, child development centers and youth centers will improve the quality of life for our soldiers and their families and will also increase unit readiness,” spokesperson Matt Ahearn said.

Ahearn said that fiscal 2025 would see nine new barracks projects under the proposal, seven for active-duty troops and two for Army Reserve members. Active-duty installations that would get new barracks include Fort Johnson, Louisiana; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Three installations in Germany would also receive new barracks, while projects would also be planned for Parks Reserve Forces Training Center, California, and Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, on the reserve side.

Barracks mold and plumbing issues

This GAO report photo shows mold, broken closets and makeshift fixes to plumbing problems in military barracks. (Government Accountability Office)

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The plan will send a message to potential recruits, Ahearn said, with the branch hoping the investments pay off in recruitment.

“We are sending a strong message to potential recruits and current soldiers about our commitment to their well-being by improving living conditions for junior soldiers, which is expected to positively impact recruiting,” Ahearn said.

-24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today
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