Hiding Institutionalized Behavior

This CNN article (read more | digg story) says that Fort Bragg is addressing the deplorable conditions of the barracks that the 82nd Airborne lives in after a video depicting these conditions was posted to YouTube. This is a continuation of an established pattern by which the Army hides institutionalized behavior. When Building 18 at Walter Reed Medical Center was exposed by the Washington Post, the Army reacted with shock, horror and bewilderment claiming to not understand how such terrible conditions could exist. The fact is, the Army knew the conditions existed and simply did not make correcting them a high priority until the scrutiny of the public eye was focused on it. The barracks at Fort Bragg is yet another verse in the same song.

Edward Frawley said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody called him personally on Monday to say that he shared his anger and that there was no excuse for soldiers living in such conditions.

“He talked to me for 30 minutes, and I believe what he said,” Frawley told “American Morning.” “He said he wouldn’t want his sons coming back and going into these kinds of living conditions, and he just said somebody dropped the ball and they’re going to fix it.”

No one “dropped the ball”. This is standard operating procedure for the US Army, as exemplified in a quote from Mr. Frawley in the very same article:

“I had been in those barracks three times in the last four years,” Edward Frawley told CNN’s “American Morning.” “I saw the condition and chose to ignore it, but two weeks ago I couldn’t … I knew I couldn’t walk away from it. Somebody had to do something.”

Another friend was a contractor at Fort Sheridan, working for EDS. The Army ‘uncondemned’ two buildings for their use. No structural changes were made, only paperwork.

The United States Army needs to be required to do a comprehensive review of its policies regarding the care and feeding of its personnel. In my opinion, this review should not be limited to the Army but should be imposed on all branches. The review should not be limited to the instructions and regulations that each service has in place but should include extensive, surprise inspections of as many facilities as possible. There needs to be clear delineations made between what is the service member’s responsibility to maintain and what is the barracks owner’s responsibility to maintain. Military service members from all branches should be provided the same standard of housing and care when not in the field or at sea. Conditions in the field and at sea should be as comfortable as the mission permits.

Lest anyone think I’m some anti-military activist, I have served 10 years in US Navy which included one ship homeport move, one Western Pacific tour and one deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). I am currently serving in the Army Reserves. Most members of my unit have done two OIF tours.


Addendum: For further corroboration that these living conditions are prevalent throughout the Army, read the user comments in the ‘Sound Off’ section of the CNN story.

[posted with ecto]

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