The armed forces’ crumbling infrastructure--from barracks to houses, offices, roads, utility systems (water, sewer, gas, electric), training ranges, etc.--is a serious readiness issue that is only worsening with time. Years of underfunding the infrastructure--the power-projection platforms--supporting our armed forces have taken their toll. The Army has had to sacrifice the investment needed to maintain and modernize its infrastructure to sustain commitments elsewhere in the world and to maintain warfighting readiness.
After a decade-long funding of 60 percent of the minimum sustaining requirement, Army facilities on installations have:
- an average age of 40 years;
- a Fiscal Year 2002 replacement cycle of approximately 90 years;
- a backlog of repairs and maintenance of more than $17 billion; and
- a C-3 or C-4 readiness rating (the two lowest ratings) for two-thirds of them.
The end result is world-class units and soldiers (whose warfighting readiness is much higher at C-1 or C-2) that are stationed on third-class installations.
To remedy this situation, Congress and the Department of Defense must invest in the Army Transformation to include funding of sustainment, restoration and modernization of facilities. The Army Facility Strategy represents a focused investment in infrastructure.
The strategy focuses on living and working conditions as well as training facilities. It requires additional funding--$349 million for modernization and $400 million for sustainment each year--to close the gap between warfighting readiness of Army forces and the mission-support readiness of the installations. This is nonnegotiable.
The Army must examine each "core" service delivery process for possible elimination, outsourcing or privatization. The success of the housing privatization can serve as the model for other privatization efforts. Better business processes coupled with continuing emphasis on environmental stewardship will accelerate infrastructure improvement.
Army infrastructure must be fixed now. To do anything less is a disservice to soldiers, their families and the nation they defend. Soldiers and their families deserve facilities that are safe and efficient and that do not impair their mission performance.
Letter from Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan
Decaying Military Infrastructure: Putting U.S. Army Readiness at Risk