Let civilians do it

| March 6, 2024

We’ve spoken a few times on the topic of outsourcing military base support operations to civilians. Here are a couple of examples of how well that is working:

Ft. Leavenworth, has outsourced building maintenance to a civilian contractor, the Michaels Corporation.

Fort Leavenworth, set to celebrate its bicentennial in 2027, is a National Historic Landmark with some 269 of its 1,700 living units built before 1919. It has more historic homes than any other military base. Fort Leavenworth is the oldest U.S. Army garrison still in operation west of the Mississippi River.

One of its barracks, The Rookery, built around 1830, is said to be the oldest occupied home in Kansas. Each fall and spring, the fort’s most beautiful historic homes are opened for tours on a parade of homes.

Residents of Fort Leavenworth were upset at the news last year that as many as 89 of the garrison’s historic homes are seen as too costly to maintain and could be demolished.

Now, The Star has confirmed, that number has ballooned to as many 185.

Carol Ayres, president of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, said she understands that clash behind a company tasked with making profits versus the high cost of maintenance and preservation.

“It’s expensive to redo those old homes,” she said. “They’re expensive to replace, too. I think everyone understands the reality of the situation. I’m afraid the people that make those decisions, excuse me, don’t always think about the history and how important it is.

A complaint heard among post residents is that, over the last several years, instead of maintaining its older homes, Michaels is engaging in “demolition by neglect” — allowing a greater number of historic homes to sit unoccupied and to decay to the point that demolition may become inevitable.

Residents maintain that if Michaels simply lived up to its obligations under its “program agreement” with the Army to properly care for the homes, few to none would now be imperiled.  Military.com

And let us not forget the chow hall situation further south – multiple chow halls with inadequate support and staffing, notably on Ft. Hood  Cavazos. But they’re not alone – the Army is going all-in on food kiosks to make up for it.

The kiosks are generally designed to serve 1,000 soldiers a day and offer an alternative or a supplemental food source apart from traditional dining facilities. In recent years, the Army has opened 14 of them, and plans to open an additional 13 within the next year, according to the service.

The minimalist food stations are akin to a snack shop at a gas station and are stocked with a basic assortment of chips, small desserts, soda, sushi, fresh fruit and sandwiches. All of that food is sourced from the respective installation’s commissary, including its deli.

“This is more of a snack,” one noncommissioned officer told Military.com on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. “Most of this stuff is unhealthy, and the stuff that is sorta good for you are in such small portions, it’s not helping me or my soldiers.”  Military.com II

Sounds like taking the cheapest path of least resistance.

“I’d rather eat gas station sushi, or discount bungee jump”  is the first phrase that came to mind reading that. (I know you know where that came from.)

 

 

Category: "Teh Stoopid", "Your Tax Dollars At Work", None

29 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A Proud Infidel®️™️

And I wonder just how well-connected to certain politicians the owners of these “maintenance companies” are, and were they also selected via DEI?

KoB

I’ll take “very well-connected” and “yes” for $1K, Alex.

No surprise that historic buildings are being allowed to fall apart. They’re running out of Grave Sites and War Memorials to tear down. Syrup bottles, pancake mix, sticks of butter, and rice bags were supposed to fix all the problems with history. Guess not, huh.

When DEI and Woke Training is more important than feeding and housing the troops…welp…Houston…we have a problem.

Wonder how far the billions (hundreds of billions) dollar we’ve (the taxpayer) given away in just the last few years would’ve gone toward fixing these problems?

Dennis - not chevy

I saw the reason my squadron was closed and the work turned over to the contractor: paperwork. The USAFI required the vehicle and equipment in-commission rate be reported weekly. The Deputy Commander for Resource Management required it daily at 1400 hours. The CMSgt required it daily at 0800 hours so he wouldn’t have to explain surprises to the Commander. The reports would take about 4 hours each day, it listed items out of commission, the reasons why, the plan to get them back into commission, and the day each item would be back into commission.

The lowest acceptable rate for in-commission was 90%. That wasn’t good enough for powers that were; any time we got close to being down to 90%, it was back to 12 hour duty days.

So every day I’d get to work early, send the report to the MSgt for approval; who sent it to another MSgt for more approval, who sent it to the CMSgt for disapproval, who sent it back to me for better explanations and planning. I sent the revised report back to the CMSgt who grunted and OK’d it. Then at 1200 hours I’d repeat the process to get the report to the CMSgt, who presented it to the LtCol, who presented it to the COL, who presented it to the General (if he wanted it).

The squadron closed and a contractor took over and presented the Deputy Commander for Resource Management a weekly report stating the in-commission rate was 90%.

I told the CMSgt, the Lt Col, the Deputy Commander, and the Wing Commander this was going to happen and it did. It’s no wonder I never made SMSgt.

BlueCord Dad

Nobody liked Cassandra either my friend..::

MIRanger

The only leaders that like someone to tell them the truth, regardless of whether it is bad news, is one that takes personal responsibility for everything that their command does! The rest just take responsibility when it can help them get promoted, and complain (aka whine) when it isn’t good news.

And we all know that the definition of whining is right? Complaining without offering a solution to fix the problem!

Open Channel D

Outsource to the Air Force.

Odie

Don’t we have seabees that do construction? Doesn’t the army, marines or airforce have similar? They were called civil engineers in the Air Force when I was in and they took care of all base maintenance.

Sounds like a good TDY assignment for all branches in the construction field. Take the money spent on this “contractor” and put it back into housing. The troops are getting paid 24/7, so labor won’t factor in. They can learn an actual useful skill for when they get out, either in construction or for when they buy their own house.

Time to disconnect these well connected leaches.

MarineDad61
Dennis - not chevy

Labor does count and so does transportation, even when the Government transports by ground, sea, or air using its own resources. Uncle Sam sends Uncle Sam a bill.

This isn’t something new; it dates back to the ’70’s. Even we active duty types had to keep a daily record of what we did and how much time it took. These records were sent to Resource Management for them to see how the taxpayers dollars were being spent and were we truly earning our pay.

Odie

So, uncle Sam billing uncle Sam, no money actually exchanges hands so it’s a wash.

I’ve seen that game played, yet I wasn’t high enough up the food chain to write the checks for that. Neither was the lady in billing dept, nor her boss either. I always jokingly referred to it as a money laundering operation.

Dennis - not chevy

Its not a wash; the money Sammy pays Sammy is spent, there’s no positive cash flow. Keep in mind most money is a number in a computer; cash is only a very small part of it. Let’s say a shop is authorized $1M for O&M per year, the price of each ball point pen, nut, bolt, left handed monkey wrench, etc issued from supply is deducted from the $1M; no checks are written. The money is spent, gone, irretrievable. The manufacturer was paid long before the item was issued.

The time you spent in basic training and tech school came out of the budget. Deploy somewhere, Sammy charges Sammy for your C-130 ride.

Oh by the way, some states give me a case of the giggles. Some states do not make themselves sales tax exempt. If a state agency makes a purchase it pays sales tax to itself. So the state pays its own tax, pays people to process the tax, and wonders why it doesn’t have enough tax revenue.

The solution is for Sammy to stop with the fancy signs and all of the other things that pretty up the bases and get back to defending and protecting the Constitution.

MIRanger

I think the Army calls them Vertical Construction Battalions (vice horizontal construction that build roads), and they are in high demand!

timactual

“the Army is struggling with what to do with its dining facilities, which were recently rebranded as “warrior restaurants.” ”

Just keep renaming what used to be called Mess Halls, that will solve the problem.

“It’s commonplace to find soldiers on social media posting images of raw chicken served to them, or small portion sizes.”

LOL
So what’s new? I have a few tales of my own from the bad old days before the New, Improved, All-Volunteer Army.

Anonymous

Soon, they’ll be He-Man Killer Feeding Centers… and Joes will have to pay out of pocket to eat only after illegal alien “migrants” billeted on post go through free first.

timactual

When you are dealing with buildings that are as old as the ones in the article “building maintenance” becomes building demolition and reconstruction. I doubt that the contract includes that.
The Rookery, for instance. Built ~1830, any electrical, plumbing, or HVAC is already a major upgrade, and has already been itself upgraded at least once. My guess is that any effort to bring those buildings up to modern livability standards would involve replacing everything but the outer layer of paint, and goes well beyond anything called for in the maintenance contract.

Mick

Regarding the Army chow hall situation, this has now gone well past the point of absolute absurdity and it’s off into the realm of willful neglect. What happened to that tried-and-true old Leadership Principle where those who are in charge are required to “know your people and look out for their welfare”? That includes ensuring that your people are being fed properly. Way back in the day when I was a newly minted Marine Aviator 1stLt in an FMF tactical squadron, we periodically had to stand watch as the Squadron Duty Officer (SDO). SDO was a 24-hour watch, and you spent the night in the squadron spaces. During the SDO watch, we were required to eat a meal in the chow hall that served our Marines aboard the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), and then enter a report into the SDO log book as to the quantity and quality of the chow that was served. I would typically eat dinner at the chow hall, and then go back over for breakfast the next morning. At the 0800 SDO watch turnover with the squadron XO, the XO always read the previous day’s log book entries in close detail, and he always asked the outgoing SDO about the chow that was being served to our Marines. Always. Fortunately for our Marines, when the old school Marine Corps chow hall Gunnies were running the show, the chow was always pretty damn good, and there was always plenty of it. On the rare occasion when the SDOs reported that something wasn’t right at the chow hall, the squadron shot a “red star cluster” up to the Marine Aircraft Group (MAG), who then engaged with the MCAS HQ to get the issue squared away ASAP. I remember that issues at the chow hall always got taken care of very quickly when the operational chain of command (and the MAG and squadron Sergeants Major) got involved. Now that contractors are running the chow halls, it doesn’t sound like the operational chain of command can have much of an impact to get this resolved. Is Big Army… Read more »

Hack Stone

Hack Stone was pulling Officer of The Day at 7th Comm Battalion back in the late 1990’s. Much like you, the OOD at 7th Comm Battalion was required to eat his meals in the Chow Hall, and also survey some random Marines on the quality, quantity complaints and suggestions of the meals served. Hack ate his dinner, solicited some input from some random anonymous Marines, and entered their comments into the logbook.

Next morning, Hack Stone is being relieved as OOD, the ongoing OOD is assuming command, and the Battalion Sergeant Major is reading the comments about the chow hall. One Marine said that he would like to have fresher vegetables. Sergeant Major goes ballistic, yelling about how we are not like Camp Pendleton with farms all over the County. Hack Stone is left thinking “If you don’t want to hear negative comments, then don’t fucking ask them their opinion.”

Mick

Shack re: the Sergeant Major.

I learned this bit of essential Marine Corps survival ROE pretty quickly as a 2ndLt at The Basic School (TBS) at Quantico:

“Never ask a question that you don’t want to know the answer to.”

JustALurkinAround

Camp Hansen chow hall was great in 95. The one at San Mateo on Pendleton (5th Marines) fucking sucked.

They would fuck up breakfast. How the fuck do you fuck up military breakfast?

Side note, I remember doing Mess and Maintenance week at PI during range training in 1992. The boxes of food supplies explicitly stated they were for “Military and Penitentiary Use Only”.

Anyone else remember that or am I making up memories?

Steve1371

I worked in the skullery ? During that week . I gained 15 pounds of muscle at PI. I found the chow at every duty station to be very good except for not enough C rats most of the time during my tour in Nam. I got down to 140pounds and being 6’5”” was a walking skeleton. My last duty station was USNDC Marine detachment Seavey Island. That was the Navy brig in Portsmouth N H and the chow there was good as well in my opinion. I don’t recall any contractors being involved in any of that.

MIRanger

As the Battalion Budget Non-Commissioned Officer for a Special Operations Unit at a base in Savannah back in the early 1990s I saw, how much the Army paid to have a Chow Hall run by Army cooks. Our Battalion Commander commented once that we were the equivalent of professional athletes and should eat like it. The Army would conduct audits regularly and would conduct more in depth ones when they thought someone was spending too much and wasting food or diverting resources. The Army would inspect us at least once a quarter with an in depth inspection for about a year. Our head cook (E-7) and all his NCOs were trained as chefs at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and really took pride in displaying their capability. No food got wasted, and you were allowed to get as much as you wanted (provided you ate it all).
We actually had a Soldier, whose job it was to inspect the trays as they were turned in. If they saw food on it, they would ask you why you did not eat it? If you did not have a good explanation than you would be asked to finish it. On the rare chance that there was something unappetizing to it as the cause, he (we were an all male unit) would sample it. If they found an issue they would call the senior NCO over and thank you kindly for eating at our facility and take action.

The Army gets what it pays for when they choose the lowest bidder for a contract to man the facilities now.

Mike B

Even some of the civilian entities overseeing government housing are getting rich and not doing a damn thing when it comes to repairs, etc of base housing.

There have been some incidents in Florida with this, mold, leaks, etc. Hell the new housing built in 2000’s at Tyndall AFB had issues while under civilian contract. Then in 2018 Hurricane Michael made them worse. The company that ran them, had no plan to repair, rebuild, tear down and replace and they sat for a few years getting worse. The government actually called the company on the carpet over this.

Back in the old days USAF Civil Engineering use to do all the repairs to base housing, dorms, work centers, etc. Now it’s all contracted out and to be honest besides their exercise here at Tyndall AFB, I don’t know what CE does in the US amymore.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mike B
JustALurkinAround

Best military food I ever had was Squid chow while in the Marines.

Second best was the humanitarian rations given to us to distribute during the invasion.

Those things didn’t make it 4 days.

Prior Service

The Rookery is also supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings on any post, if you go by that sort of thing. A former occupant is in my directorate. Says he saw and heard unexplainable stuff.

I currently live in 100 year old army housing. I love the house and love the neighborhood but, man, when the plumbing goes, the plumbing GOES. Recently had half of my four toilets filled up with brown. Usually it’s only one but it’s regular as clockwork-every two or three months.

Green Thumb

I wonder if All-Points Logistics has the contract?

Messkit

Just about all the original buildings on Fort Ord, from 1917 to post WWII are gone, or in such decrepit condition that demolition crews cannot enter due to hazardous material and collapse danger. This includes the first barracks built in 1917 (called dorms then), most of the support shops, barracks built during the Vietnam era, and all of the flagstone paved streets (Ord is, literally, built on a giant sand dune. Flagstone was used to keep the macadam on the surface) are gone.

Stilwell Hall, was so decrepit, it was feared it would fall into the Pacific, so was torn down with kid gloves, due to the lead paint and large amount of asbestos.

Sadly, the PX was closed last year (along with my favorite Korean BBQ joint). The DLI and Navy Post-Grad school takes up the PX duties now.

Fortunately, while the BRAC closed it down and it was given over to the University of California program, the Army insisted that all the street names remain indefinitely. Gigling Road, Light Fighter Drive, DivArty St., and Jim Moore Boulevard remain!

Old tanker

When we RVed full time from 04 to 17 we wintered at DM AFB fam camp. Now while the Airmen are not really around the RV location there was some interaction. The base had gone to civilian maintenance for base housing. It was a source of never ending complaints that even made it over to the retirees side. While the RV camp was civilian operated they did it on a cash basis separately from housing and made sure things were kept in good shape. The Airmen’s housing seemed to suffer and we kept seeing more and more being demolished. The roofs in particular were left to rot until the duplex became uninhabitable.

It had been a tradition to decorate for Christmas and we saw the decline in displays over the years because the housing was vacant or gone.

Hack Stone

If you want to see a real dump of a building, check out Enterprise Hall on the Navy side of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. The pillars out front on the steps are rotted, the lead paint throughout the building is falling off in sheets, and the money spent for heating and cooling must take up 25% of the Navy’s annual budget, because doors and windows don’t seal properly. Contrast that with the Chow Hall adjacent to it, where you can get a great meal for a reasonable price.

Forest Bondurant

Allowing historic buildings to fall into disrepair because of laziness is no excuse. A cursory review of military buildings with historic significance (local, state or national interest) revealed that there are over 800 of them on the National Registry of Historic Places, and several hundred more awaiting admission to the list.