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Civilians to manage barracks on Fort Stewart
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Civilians man the gates of Fort Stewart, in process and out process 3rd Infantry Division soldiers and now post officials say they will also be responsible for the upkeep and management of the fort’s barracks.
On Thursday, division officials and civilian planners rehearsed a concept drill to test plans for the First Sergeants Barracks Initiative.
During the drill, Fort Stewart officials acted out the processes for the civilian barracks take-over, which is scheduled to occur in March of this year.
Col. Todd Buchs, the division’s garrison commander, said Tuesday the FSBI will free up time for Fort Stewart first sergeants, bringing relief to soldiers with already hectic schedules.
“They’re taking over functions that the war-fighter does not need to do,” Buchs said. “They don’t have the tools to deal with it and they don’t have the capabilities to deal with it and that’s why our barracks have not been the best that they can be because it’s not their focus.”
Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson, CSM for the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, is preparing for the FSBI transformation in his brigade.
He said he more than welcomes the modification.
“I am elated about the fact that we’re going to get some help,” he said. “It is going to allow us to not lead that focus, but provide us more time to prepare our soldiers in preparing themselves for combat.”
According to Buchs, civilian managers and counselors will now be responsible for taking on such tasks as repairing leaky faucets and other “every day” maintenance issues, as well as keeping records and distributing keys.
However, he said, “[First sergeants] will still have their responsibilities in this, and that is the standards and accountability of the soldier in that barracks room.”
Fort Stewart’s FSBI program is the second for the Army nation-wide. The pilot program took place at Fort Hood in 2008.
In a 250-page report, Army officials there said the program's benefits included improving the quality of life for soldiers, extending the life of furnishings, extending barracks modernization, and reducing the number of soldiers "needlessly collecting" a housing allowance.
Watson said for him and his soldiers it can’t get any better than that.
“When I came up in the Army we didn’t have this type of attention as a single soldier living in the barracks. We were trying to paint rooms ourselves because no one else was going to paint them,” he said.
“Now, we will have someone who loves us and is saying, ‘let us do that’.”

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