Army to check all barracks and facilities for mold as service grapples with housing conditions

Over the next two months, the active duty component of the Army will inspect all buildings in its inventory for mold, including barracks, as the service attempts to address a problem plaguing the quarters of obsolete housing across the country.

All facilities are expected to be inspected by Nov. 18, according to an internal memo reviewed by Military.com. The sudden sweeping inspection comes after a Military.com investigation into poor living conditions at Fort Stewart, Georgia, in which military barracks are infested with mold, painting walls and doors black.

This post was also the first to detail a similar issue in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There, around 1,200 people had to be relocated to new living quarters after years of moldy conditions that were made even worse in the humid climate. This evacuation has disrupted garrison logistics and is likely to complicate day-to-day operations for the foreseeable future. Twelve barracks at Fort Bragg are due to be demolished next year, five years ahead of schedule. Five others are to be renovated.

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“Our soldiers and our families must have healthy and safe environments in which to live and work, so reports of mold or mildew must be addressed immediately,” said Rachel Jacobson, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, the energy and the environment, in a press release. at Military.com. “Orders for visits to Army Reserve and National Guard buildings will soon be issued. This comprehensive infrastructure assessment will allow the Army to identify issues that need to be addressed and make decisions informed about priorities for renovation and new construction.”

Many of the military’s mold problems are attributed to outdated infrastructure. Many of the service’s barracks were built 50 years ago, and all have outdated air conditioning systems that are known to leak and are difficult to repair.

Army Sergeant Major Michael Grinston has made improving the quality of life for soldiers a key goal during his tenure. The service has secured $10 billion which it plans to spend on the barracks over the next decade. However, building new housing can take about five to six years, a slow schedule that army planners blame on a maze of bureaucracy and slow construction.

With construction taking years after projects are greenlit, the military lacks solutions in the meantime. Simply taking inventory of all of the department’s mold problems will likely only address the severity of the mold problem, but it’s unclear whether the military will be able to move soldiers around if this inspection reveals more cases of severe mold infestation.

“All senior commanders will prioritize and correct or mitigate reported deficiencies by immediately submitting work orders resulting from inspections and supporting any soldier movement as necessary,” the memo reads.

Fort Bragg’s relocation effort was unprecedented, and most facilities have no surplus barracks, while the massive movement of soldiers to civilian housing could stretch an already booming real estate market.

The Army conducted a similar service-wide inspection in 2021 of PMQs following widespread media coverage of privatized base residences.

— Steve Beynon can be contacted at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Mold invades Fort Stewart barracks as pattern emerges in the military

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