Army changing way it manages installations
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The Army is changing the way it manages its installations in hopes of becoming more agile in the face of current and emerging challenges.
A transformation within Army Installation Management Command next month will reorganize the three-star command's hierarchy to group installations by mission rather than geography.
That will bring Installation Management Command leaders to Fort Bragg to manage similar installations across the country.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, commanding general of Installation Management Command, said the new organization structure will go into effect Nov. 1.
It will involve creating three new regional subcommands, or IMCOM support directorates, at Army installations. Those support directorates will replace two existing regions, IMCOM Atlantic and IMCOM Central.
"This is a big change. And I think it's going to really provide us a great way forward," Dahl said.
Dahl spoke Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington. He was part of a forum titled "Installations: The Army's Platform for Readiness."
Currently, IMCOM's 75 worldwide Army installations are divided into four regions: Atlantic, Central, Pacific and Europe.
Dahl said the latter regions provided a framework for the new structure within the continental United States.
In Europe and in the Pacific, Army installations all work for the same commander and are united under a common mission. Their IMCOM regions are collocated with those commands.
But in the continental United States, installations were grouped by geography, with the Mississippi River as the dividing line. The Atlantic and Central commands are headquartered with IMCOM in San Antonio.
The new directorates will oversee between 15 and 17 installations each, depending upon the installations' overarching mission.
The directorates will be collocated with three Army commands - Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg; Army Material Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; and Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Dahl did not specify how big the directorate staffs would be.
At Fort Bragg, IMCOM Support Directorate Readiness will oversee 16 installations that are focused on providing ready combat power. Each of the installations are home to forces that are typically stationed there with their families for years.
At Fort Eustis, IMCOM Support Directorate Training will oversee 15 installations that are focused on more short-term training. Most of the soldiers assigned to these installations are transient and do not bring their families with them.
At Redstone Arsenal, IMCOM Support Directorate Sustainment will oversee 17 installations that typically include a larger civilian and contractor workforce and a smaller numbers of uniformed troops.
Dahl said each of the support directorates' different demographics pose unique challenges to installation commanders. The directorates will better understand those challenges and needs by being co-located with the major commands.
"This is like logistics. You have to be able to anticipate," Dahl said. "If you are going to be a supportive element you have to know what it is you are supporting. You want to be close to the planning, the strategizing and the decision-making."
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, led Tuesday's forum.
She said installations were the starting point for the Army's readiness because they provide the infrastructure and needed support to train, equip and develop the larger force.
"Installations are our power projection platforms," Hammack said. "We look to our installations to prioritize - to figure out what right looks like for their unique missions because every installation is different.''
But there also are common challenges such as weather, emerging missions and budgets.
Lt. Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham, assistant Army chief of staff for installation management, said the entire force was dealing with rising costs, end strength reductions, constrained resources and aging infrastructures.
Some of those issues have been caused by an under investment in installations, as the Army has focused on other priorities.
"This strategy though is no longer viable," she said.
Funding for installation management significantly decreased from 2010 to present day, she said.
In 2010, the Army provided $4.7 billion for military construction. Today, that number is $1 billion. That covers about 34 percent of the Army's needs.
"It's the lowest it's ever been since the early 1990s," Bingham said.
At the same time, the Army is only meeting 20 percent of its building upkeep requirements.
She said that was concerning.
Hammack said the Army needs more than reliable and adequate funding to service its installations.
But she also repeated calls for a future round of Base Realignment and Closure, something that has to be approved by Congress, but has gained little traction in recent years despite repeat Army requests.
"The Army has 21 percent more real estate than we can conceivably put to productive use," Hammack said. "The bill to support this infrastructure is $500 million annually."
Hammack said that money would be better served helping to improve training readiness or modernization if the Army was allowed to close unneeded facilities.
In the meantime, the force is continuing to look for cost savings and ways to stretch dollars through energy conservation and other partnerships.
Dahl said IMCOM is doing more for those efforts than just reorganizing. He outlined other ways the command was evolving to provide better support amid constrained budgets.
He said the command was formalizing relationships between installations so larger Army hubs can provide support to smaller posts.
Army installations also are looking to partner with civilian neighbors to cut costs, Dahl said.
In North Carolina, for example, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum has contracted with Fayetteville to provide custodial maintenance at the downtown museum, saving the Army $53,000 each year.
"It's just a way of being efficient. Again, You don't have to have redundant systems outside the gate and inside the gate when you can partner and save that kind of money," Dahl said. "It doesn't seem like a lot, but there are 75 installations around the world and a lot of services like that so it really does add up."