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Group: N.C. Army Barracks "Not Suitable"

A North Carolina group studying soldier housing at Fort Bragg says a program to maintain barracks is undermined by inconsistencies and a lack of resources.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Thursday that the group, part of the 2009 Fort Bragg Army Family Action Plan, said the barracks for the 17,000 single soldiers on post are "not a suitable" home. The group says the housing doesn't meet the Army's standards for quality of life.

The program to fix and maintain barracks was started at Fort Bragg last year after the father of a paratrooper put a video showing poor barracks conditions on the Internet. The video showed peeling paint and mold, a torn toilet seat and a soldier trying to unplug a floor drain that appeared to be clogged with sewage.

Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, the garrison commander, defended living conditions, telling the paper that barracks in the Army "are better than they have ever been in the history of our armed forces."

Fort Bragg has a dozen Korean War-era barracks. Eight have been reconditioned, but need constant upkeep, Sicinski said.

He said the First Sergeants Barracks Initiative, created to address these problems, is new and doesn't have all of its resources.

"We will probably have to double the size of the team, if not triple it, to make it run effectively," Sicinski said. "Once that happens, I foresee less and less problems and soldier complaints like we heard some of today."