June 16, 2004 Wednesday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE MILITARY CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: FISCAL YEAR 2005 MILITARY CONSTRUCTION BUDGET
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE JOE KNOLLENBERG (R-MI)
WITNESSES: GENERAL PETER J. SCHOOMAKER, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF; GEOFFREY G. PROSCH, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR INSTALLATIONS AND ENVIRONMENT
LOCATION: B-300 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Sorry. I had another hearing that was in conflict. So I had to leave for a little while.
But I wanted to ask about -- (off mike) -- privatize barracks. I had the opportunity to speak to Sergeant Major Preston (sp) about it recently, but I was wondering if you could talk about the privatizing of barracks and privatizing housing for single senior noncommissioned officers. And a place like Fort Stewart-we have some interest in that and -- (off mike) -- other posts around the country -- (off mike) -- the same way. I was just wondering if you'd comment.
MR. PROSCH: Well, I appreciate -- (off mike) -- Sergeant Major of the Army Preston (sp), who is sort of leading this new task force that's looking to see if -- (off mike) -- barracks would make sense, trying to leverage some of the successes we've had with the Residential Communities Initiative. And we are looking at Fort Hood, Fort Lewis, Presidio of Monterey and Stewart for some pilot programs.
Now the law does provide us the authority for barracks privatization. The challenge is the basic allowance for housing, because right now we don't pay the (B-88s ?) to our single soldiers. So it would be an increase in the budget.
And also we have to look at the consequences of deployments with an (expedition ?) of the Army. What do you do when you get an empty barracks and you've got to develop an apartment that's looking for an income stream, and the soldiers -- (inaudible).
But I think it's worthy of merit. I think places like Presidio of Monterrey-your soldiers are there, you don't have an expeditionary empty barracks. So it might include maybe -- (off mike).
But we are studying it. And thank you for meeting -- (off mike).
REP. KINGSTON: Thank you, Mr. Prosch.
Mr. Chairman, I still have time? I --
REP. KNOLLENBERG: We have a -- (off mike). Oh, yeah.
(Cross talk, laughter.)
REP. KINGSTON: Let me ask both of you, on the joint base and pooling of resources between Army, Air Force, Navy and even federal government, we hosted a committee in Georgia that had South Carolina, Georgia and North -- (off mike) -- bases and posts together. And it had a lot of good-representation from all branches of the service, under the idea of let's get the generals and the admirals talking together, and then let's get the communities, county to county, talking together, so that they can support the military better in whatever way they could.
I'm just wondering if you could comment on things like that, moving in that direction.
MR. PROSCH: Well, we got some very positive feedback from our garrison commanders who participated in this conference that you hosted with 11 different Army, Air Force, Navy -- (off mike) -- garrison commanders all in the Southeast to discuss the value of joint training, fires, deployability.
And we think that one of the great things about this BRAC is that we have seven joint cross-service groups, flag-level officials from every service, taking a very good, hard look at (joint ?) bases and joint realignment. I think in the past (with that ?), when you didn't have this force of joint cross-service groups, the services didn't get a good, hard, fair look at the joint -- (inaudible).
So I think, as a member of the OSD infrastructure steering group, the vice and I meet about every other week at OSD, and we (drill ?) this jointness. So I think it's very possible that we can do this on this round of BRAC.
REP. KINGSTON: (That's ?) great. I also should point out Mr. Bishop was also involved; his office was represented at that meeting.
And then, Mr. Chairman, I just want to brag about the folks down in our little briar patch-General Webster and Colonel Kidd (sp) and all the folks in-and Colonel Gobel (sp), all involved in the G-8. Great job. I was on Hunter when the dignitaries flew in, and everything was absolutely flawless. And so you guys (got us set ?) off in the right direction, and then (I think the whole summit went ?) -- (off mike).
But General Webster-it was a great-it was just a great operation, and I know he worked around that.
REP. KNOLLENBERG: (Off mike.)
REP. KINGSTON: Well, that might be what you call him. (Laughter.) I'm going to stay with "general" -- (inaudible due to laughter).