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Hearing of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee - The Military Construction Budget Request

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Location: Washington, DC

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SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, same, I have a statement I'd like to submit to the record and then will reserve my time for questions.

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SEN. LANDRIEU: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Arny, I would like to -- it actually a great segue into my questioning because my question is actually about Fort Polk in Louisiana. And I'm not sure if you are personally familiar with this base.

But it's one of our joint training bases, and a very important base for our operations ongoing and past, as it has been, and of course will be in the future.

We have over 8,000 soldiers there, but most of our forces that deploy will spend some time at Fort Polk before they leave. And there is some almost not real far but close to -- exercises that go on, I've been able to visit the base several times since I've been a senator.

My question is following up on what Senator Murray said about the housing for the single barracks, the single enlisted.

We have about 60 percent of family, married, 40 percent single; we've made a lot of progress with the new initiative, which I'm pleased to have been a part of for privatization of family housing.

So my question is one, are you aware of a recent installation status report that shows that 80 percent of the barracks at Fort Polk currently do not meet acceptable ratings under the ISO quality standard.

Are you aware, at the current rate it will be another 20 years before these renovations have occurred, these barracks were built an average of 35 years ago so they will have withstood for 50 years. Having been built 30 years ago, they've just basic concrete.

I've toured some of them they are in deplorable condition. They have mold and mildew, but at the rate we're going, it will be 20 years before we can get them any relief under the current budget.

My question is are you reviewing the possibility of some sort of privatization effort like the Navy has undergoing in San Diego for the possibility of some of our Army installations particularly at Fort Polk?

MR. ARNY: Yes, ma'am. We've left that generally up to the individual services and I came from the Navy and at one conference, the Army and the Air Force both said they are going to wait for the Navy, and I think we have enough evidence to show what privatization can do.

And I have been told that the Army, indeed at Fort Polk was one of the -- was the example we talked about -- is looking very closely at privatization.

And I think if they can figure out the financial aspects of the BAH, I mean, the downside to that privatization effort is you must give the BAH to the soldier and let him make a choice whether he is going to live in there.

On the other hand, the housing he gets is much, much better as we've seen in San Diego. Also in Norfolk, as the Navy is doing in its second project in Norfolk, and a third one down at the Jacques Mayport (ph) area.

So I think the answer is yes. I am told the Army is looking at that and we'll be happy to support them in that effort.

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