Marine Corps completes ‘wall-to-wall’ barracks inspection. Here’s what’s next

The Marine Corps recently completed its service-wide barracks inspection. Now it can finally get after the problems that have plagued barracks for decades.

For decades, the Marine Corps prioritized buying weapon systems over quality of life issues, which allowed the service to have enough data to justify its funding requests to purchase new weapon platforms when needed.

It was only recently that the service recognized it didn’t track any information on the state of its barracks. 

“We didn’t have the data to say how we are tracking the facility’s condition in detail to defend more than $200 million a year for that. But we did have the data to say we need this force design weapon system or this modernized vehicle or this modernized weapon platform,” Lt. Gen. James Adams, the deputy Marine commandant for programs and resources, told reporters at the Modern Day Marine conference Wednesday. 

“We’re starting to learn and develop with great detail the data that we need, that we can then go to the Congress and say, ‘Here are the conditions of these specific rooms, here are the problems that we have and here are the specific dollars that we need to fix them.”

The service recently completed its “wall-to-wall” barracks inspection, which will finally allow the service to get after the problems that have plagued housing for enlisted Marines for decades, including mold, lack of proper heating, ventilation and air conditioning and bad plumbing, among other issues.

For fiscal 2025, the service is asking Congress for $274 million to repair and modernize its barracks — a $65 million increase from last year’s request. On top of this request, Marine Corps officials put several barracks initiatives at the top of the unfunded priority list, giving lawmakers a blueprint in case they decide to boost funding for housing. But the Pentagon’s budget request is only 1% more than the department requested in 2024, which is in line with defense and domestic spending caps lawmakers set last year.

“With the budget caps in both 2024 and 2025, it becomes very difficult to fit that into the priority, but it’s the commandant’s number one priority,” said Adams.

“If we get that unfunded priority filled, we’ll actually be able to move out and accelerate much faster into the coming years the efforts that we need to both modernize our barracksmodernize our strategy with regards to management and materiel. Some will be demoed, but we’re really organizing the data to figure out how to take what we have, make it better and apply our resources as strategically and as impactfully as possible.”

What the service found during its barracks inspection

In February, the Marines Corps ordered a “wall-to-wall” inspection of more than 60,000 barracks rooms that house over 87,000 Marines. It took 45 days and 650 people working across the globe to complete the assessment and get a better understanding of the conditions of each barracks.

Inspectors primarily focused on health and safety issues, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, water, pest control and general safety. 

Senior officials said 49% of all rooms are “full mission-capable,” 49% of rooms are “partially mission-capable” and 0.2 rooms are “non-mission capable.” About 100 Marines ended up being moved.

Maj. Gen David Maxwell said lack of heating and air conditioning, moisture issues and problems with running water are the main issues plaguing junior Marines’ rooms.

“The main things that we found that are the major issues and concerns tied to HVAC and discrepancies with heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Some of those are simply the absence of heating, ventilation and air conditioning in barracks that were built 50 years ago, in Southern California, for example,” Maxwell told Federal News Network.

“That then ties into the other major discrepancy area which was water where we had either leaks or hot water temperature, water pressure may not have been as high as we wanted or a dripping faucet.”

Plans to demolish barracks

The inspection also included taking occupancy inventory. The service currently has 150,000 rooms that support about 87,000 Marines.

We have excess inventory. Our issue now is working through how do you optimize the management that takes care of two Marines per room, keeps a corporal from having to move 18 times. And then have a strategy that allows us to have an intentional targeted demolition approach,” said Maxwell.

The service will be conducting a study over the next year on how to optimize the rooms it has and which barracks to demolish.

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