As many as 1,200 soldiers will be relocated from Fort Bragg barracks after an inspection found they fell dangerously short of HVAC standards.
Army and installation leaders, including Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, who has made overhauling base housing one of his top priorities, recently inspected the barracks at the Smoke Bomb Hill area of the North Carolina base.
The inspection found “higher than normal moisture levels” — conditions ripe for mold — “and quality of life concerns,” a spokesperson for Fort Bragg said in an unsigned email statement to Army Times.
The base anticipates that all affected soldiers will be moved over the next 30 days.
“Our priority is to relocate Soldiers into other barracks rooms on the installation to maintain unit and squad integrity,” the spokesperson for the base said, adding that the base is now assessing room availability.
Any soldiers relocated off-post will be moved back once renovations are done, the spokesperson added. The Army will hire a moving company to help soldiers relocate, according to the spokesperson.
Some of the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks will be renovated, the spokesperson told Army Times, but the majority of them will be demolished.
Several soldiers took to the comments of a Reddit post containing a statement by Fort Bragg on the relocation to complain about the conditions in the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks.
“Most soldiers including myself have lived in rooms with so much mold that they’ve developed breathing issues and coughs,” user Friendfoxx said.
“One of my medics from 108th [Air Defense Artillery Brigade] got placed in there when we got back from deployment,” user Daumath said. “He wanted to go back to his tent in Iraq lmao.”
The Smoke Bomb Hill barracks were built in the mid-1970s through Project Volunteer Army, or VOLAR, in an effort to provide better living conditions for the newly all-volunteer force.
Asked if leaders would soon inspect other barracks on the installation, the spokesperson for Fort Bragg told Army Times, “Unit level leaders routinely walk through their facilities conducting inspections and are encouraged by senior leaders to report maintenance concerns through Army Maintenance Application (ArMA).”
In 2020, a mold problem at Fort Bragg forced more than 200 soldiers to move out of their barracks on short notice. But Fort Bragg is not the only military installation to have suffered subpar housing conditions.
Navy Times reported in February that some service members at the Maryland Navy base that is home to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center lacked hot water, air conditioning, and locking doors.
Families at the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Fort Bragg also filed a lawsuit in 2021 seeking damages for mold and other issues in their privatized housing. And a January report by the Government Accountability Office found that nearly 30% of Defense Department buildings had exceeded their expected lifespans.
Irene Loewenson is an editorial fellow at Military Times and Defense News. A native New Yorker, she is a recent graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.