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Army Construction Funds Sacrificed to Support Readiness

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Army is “struggling in an era with very low top lines” and willing to take an 18 percent reduction in construction and family housing operations to support soldier readiness, the Army’s top installation official said April 7.

The Army has a more than $7 billion backlog of maintenance needed on installations and no current plan to address it, said Katherine Hammack, the assistant Army secretary for installations, energy and environment. To put the backlog in perspective, the Army’s complete construction budget for 2017 is $1.3 billion, an 18 percent reduction from 2016 and the lowest level since 1993.

“We don’t have money to handle the maintenance backlog,” Hammack told a Senate committee. The Army is operating on a worst-first policy for making repairs but “right now, we have no plan to handle the maintenance backlog.”

“We are taking significant risk in installations and creating a bill for the future by the underfunding that we are forced to live under in the restricted budget environment,” she said.

Twenty percent of the Army’s infrastructure is in “poor or failing condition,” she said, but without money the backlog will just keep increasing and “facilities will fail faster.”

About 28 percent of the Army construction budget is aimed at supporting requirement of combatant commanders, Hammack said. “The Army has decided to take strategic risks in funding installations so that we can support soldier readiness.”