The Army’s mission performance ultimately depends on its ability to train, equip, and maintain soldiers. In turn, the need to maintain soldiers requires the Army to address their individual needs. Physical and emotional health, pride and job satisfaction, and intellectual and personal growth are important factors in maintaining both the short- and long-term effectiveness of Army personnel. Such needs address the basic human desire for an acceptable quality of life. Failure to meet those needs would reduce the appeal of military service to both current and potential soldiers, with all that such a reduction implies for the Army’s ability to maintain force readiness in the face of an accelerating operating tempo. The Army supports its mission capabilities by offering a number of programs to meet the needs, and improve the quality of life, of individual soldiers.
The Army recognizes quality-of-life issues as a high-priority concern,
addressed in part by Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs.
Administered by the Army Community and Family Support Center, MWR
programs provide a variety of recreational activities, community events,
personal enrichment opportunities, and family support functions. Those
programs are provided through MWR facilities located on Army posts.
MWR personnel operate fitness centers, libraries, indoor and outdoor
recreation centers, arts and crafts centers, automotive skills facilities, and
entertainment and leisure travel programs on Army installations around
the world. Surveys indicate that the most popular MWR offerings, such as
fitness centers, are used by more than half of all eligible military personnel.
The majority of MWR programs enjoy the participation of more than
30 percent of all eligible personnel. The semiannual Sample Survey of
Military Personnel conducted in the spring and fall of 1998 indicated that
the quality and availability of such programs ranked among the ten most
popular aspects of military life.
Two of the three major concerns for both MWR and its subordinate family programs in FY 1999 were securing the exemption of key activities
from ongoing A-76 Commercial Activities studies, which explore the
possible privatization of Army activities in compliance with the Federal
Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998, and the creation of baseline
operational standards for each program to identify required resources. The
assistant secretary of the Army (manpower and reserve affairs) complied
with the October 1998 recommendation of the MWR board of directors
to exempt sports and fitness, child and youth services, and several other
categories of MWR activities from possible privatization under the A-76
process. This decision maintained the integrity of MWR programs and the
workforce’s depth and flexibility. MWR leaders met their second major
concern for FY 1999 by developing baseline operating standards for core
programs, including sports and fitness, child and youth services, Army
community service, recreation, and libraries. Those standards established
requirements for future budget cycles. MWR also supported stabilized
funding for base operations (BASOPS) as its third major goal for the year.
Continued shortfalls in the BASOPS maintenance and repair accounts that
fund the required upkeep of facilities on Army installations often leave
commanders little choice but to divert funds from the accounts intended to
support MWR functions on the grounds that properly maintained facilities
contribute to good morale.
Despite the reallocation of funds to BASOPS accounts, MWR activities executed almost 99 percent, or $182.5 million, of their authorized $185 million FY99 budget. Family programs, operating from separate accounts, suffered greater diversions and were able to execute only 95 percent of their $203.2 million budget. Army community service activities stood out from the rest of the family programs, however, by spending 101 percent of their allocated $40.5 million as a result of funds that local commanders diverted from other areas.
MWR’s recreation programs began full implementation of the Recreation Delivery System in FY 1999. This new administrative approach includes the accreditation of all community recreation programs by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, an independent commission that establishes firm standards for personnel, training, programming, equipment, and facilities. MWR’s internal standards seek to exceed those required for accreditation, with the goal of guaranteeing standard levels of exceptional service throughout the Army.
Soldiers’ needs for off-duty recreation, morale programs, and welfare services are not overlooked while they are on deployment. As FY 1999 drew to a close, thirty-eight MWR professionals provided United Services Organization entertainment programs, recreational activities, and special events to Army personnel at nine sites in Bosnia and Kosovo. A number of family programs also continued to address the needs of soldiers approaching, on, or completing deployment during
the fiscal year. These programs included Family Readiness Groups, the Army Family Teambuilding Program, and the Army Family Action Plan. Each of those programs seeks to improve the quality of life for Army personnel and their dependents, focusing on problem areas identified through previous experience.
The Army Medical Department (AMEDD) is responsible for the
Army’s health needs. This is a complex task, combining medical research,
field medicine, and routine health care. In each of those areas, the AMEDD
applies the latest business, technological, and scientific advances to
preserve the force, meet the emerging needs of Force XXI, and develop
In FY 1999, the special appropriation for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command totaled $367.4 million, the highest research and development funding for Army medicine in more than a decade. Those funds supported research with potential benefits far beyond the Army but often in short supply. For example, the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine has been pursuing research into Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens since FY 1992. In that year, the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Bill approved $850,000 to support the Army’s role as executive agent for the DOD Lyme Disease Program. The FY92 Appropriations Bill, however, did not fund the program. Actual research could not begin until the FY94 budget authorized the diversion of $850,000 from elsewhere in the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command budget. Supplemental funds the following year included $500,000 in dedicated funding, but the research effort received no further support until FY 1999. The Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine \secured $1.5 million of the FY99 allocation to combat the debilitating illness by improving detection capabilities, conducting epidemiological studies, and creating a field detection test kit.
AMEDD research and development efforts generally parallel those of the civilian medical community, but the Army’s special requirements guarantee it a unique role in the pursuit of some capabilities. The need to provide medical support in remote locations, for example, has encouraged the Army to pursue telemedicine’s potential to link patients and local medical personnel with distant medical experts through advanced information systems. The Armed Services Biomedical Research Evaluation and Management Committee and the director of research and engineering approved the criteria of the Joint Science and Technology Plan for Telemedicine on 1 October 1997. Since that time, the Army has pursued research into integrated telemedicine and telecommunications
technologies with the goals of improving speed and accuracy of diagnosis,
initiating emergency treatment during the critical first hour, and assisting
emergency medical specialists or rescue teams in responding to medical
emergencies in remote locations.
The emergency telemedicine project included four components in FY 1999. In the radiology component, the AMEDD advanced research to enable a low-skilled operator to acquire and transmit ultrasound images for interpretation by a radiologist. This capability will dramatically improve emergency diagnosis in remote or isolated environments. The home health component began evaluating the patient’s own ability to operate medical monitoring devices linked to a supervising health care provider, again promoting early diagnosis and intervention. In the wavelet compression component, the AMEDD explored the application of advanced data technology to compress bandwidth requirements, thus further reducing the cost of telemedicine. Finally, the Center of Excellence for Biological and Chemical Medical Response continued working closely with emergency medical service providers in Philadelphia to apply telemedicine practices, and improve response, to biological or chemical disasters.
These efforts also support the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) program, which received its first procurement funding during FY 1999. The MC4 program provides an integrated system of medical products, information, and communications capabilities to link all echelons of Army medical care both horizontally and vertically. Its equipment will eventually include the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor, a device intended to monitor the soldier and automatically provide medical personnel with a location and vital signs in the event of an emergency. The MC4 program extends the promise of telemedicine and networked systems to frontline medical care.
There is a substantial gap between knowing about a wounded combatant and being able to provide medical intervention. The Army’s FY99 budget included funding for several systems intended to improve the AMEDD’s ability to provide combat medical support, addressing issues that came to light during Operation DESERT STORM. That operation revealed that both the M577A2 treatment vehicle and the M113 armored ambulance lack the speed, maneuverability, and survivability needed to operate with modern mechanized forces.
The FY99 budget included $3.86 million for development of the Armored Medical Evacuation Vehicle, a modification of excess M2A0 Bradley fighting vehicles intended to replace the older M113 ambulance. The new vehicle maintains parts that are common with the Bradley vehicle family, integrates modern communications and vehicle performance capabilities, and can provide advanced trauma care at the pace of current mechanized operations. Another Bradley variant, based on the M4A1
command-and-control vehicle chassis, is the armored medical treatment
vehicle. Leveraged from development of the command-and-control
vehicle, which is differentiated only by mission-unique equipment, the
armored medical treatment vehicle was an unfinanced requirement in FY
1999, intended to replace the obsolete M577A2.
The AMEDD’s greatest medical modernization issue in FY 1999 was an entirely different type of vehicle. The UH–60Q medical evacuation helicopter, an upgrade of existing Black Hawk helicopters, completed operational testing in September 1998 and entered engineering and manufacturing development during FY 1999. Although the AMEDD sought to procure the UH–-60Q at the earliest possible date, the deputy chief of staff for operations and plans preferred to postpone production until the start of the UH–60A service-life extension program in 2002. The two positions remained unreconciled through FY 1999.
Advanced capabilities to treat and transport wounded soldiers are of little use without skilled medics. During FY 1999, the AMEDD continued preparations for the transition to a new military occupational specialty, the 91W health care specialist. Combining the old 91B and 91C specialties, the new category would incorporate enhanced skills in combat casualty care, force health protection, ambulatory/emergency care, and extended critical care. The pretransition phase for the shift to the new classification, providing supplementary training to existing 91B and 91C specialists, was scheduled to begin in FY 2000.
The shortage of reserve-component medical personnel continued in FY 1999. A 1996 study by the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve, indicated that 81 percent of U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) physicians could mobilize for up to ninety days without serious consequences for their civilian practices, but extension beyond that time limit often led to loss of employment. As a result of this professional barrier, 34.2 percent of the physicians deployed in Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR and Operation JOINT GUARD left the USAR. Despite a reported overall officer and warrant officer fill rate of 104 percent in the AMEDD’s reserve-component strength for FY 1999, the figure dropped to only 62 percent for officers and warrant officers in critical wartime specialties. Recruiting and retention efforts focused on this need, with little success.
Routine health care for active-component, active-duty reserve, and dependent personnel is provided through Tricare, the DOD’s network of military medical facilities and civilian care providers. During FY 1999, the program expanded to include Tricare Prime Remote, a network of health care providers in areas removed from major military facilities. Although the program suffered from administrative problems, it did begin to offer Army personnel full health coverage despite the lack of local military care facilities. Congress included a similar program for retirees, Tricare Senior
Supplement, in the FY99 appropriation as a demonstration program. It
was scheduled to open in eight locations during FY 2000, providing a
Medicare supplement to program members.
During FY 1999, the AMEDD responded to the president’s directive that all federal agencies place additional emphasis on the ability to manage the consequences of the use of nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) weapons against the United States. The AMEDD began a two-week Medical NBC Readiness Workshop, to be offered each September. Personnel from each service branch, including members of the ten National Guard Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection Teams that began forming in FY 1999, received training in medical responses to NBC threats. Workshop content is expected to change each year, as trained personnel are assigned worldwide to support military missions.
The Chaplain Corps furthered its efforts to adapt to the demands of
increasing operating tempos and the needs of the Army’s Force XXI and
AAN architectures during FY 1999, including the need for expanded
use of information technology. An important component of those efforts,
the Chaplaincy Automated Religious Support System, entered service
throughout the Army during the fiscal year. The system automates much
of the clerical work associated with Army chaplains’ religious support and
special staff work. Its first module, the Command Master Religious Program,
automates financial, manpower, and facility management. A related initiative,
completed in June of 1999, provided video teleconferencing capabilities in
each participating major command chaplain’s office. The system can connect
as many as twelve locations in a single conference, thus helping chaplains
coordinate their efforts while providing a valuable humanitarian tool.
The Chaplain Corps continued to develop a conceptual framework and testable model for military religious support activities capable of meeting the requirements of activity-and service-based costing initiatives. The new framework redefined religious support programs as “social behavior products,” identifying the costs of the chaplaincy in comparison with the resulting cost avoidance. This methodology reflects the unique character of religious support. Previous methodologies, developed outside the Chaplain Corps, followed medical or legal models in assigning cost structures. These models produced inaccurate results when applied to the chaplaincy.
The shortage of Army chaplains, particularly in the Roman Catholic denomination, persisted in FY 1999. The shortage of priests remained an issue throughout the United States in FY 1999, but the trend was particularly troubling in the Army, in light of the growing number of Roman Catholic servicemembers. In August 1999, senior Army leadership approved the
organization of the Directorate of Ministry Initiatives (DMI), which was slated to enter service in November 1999. The DMI is intended to bring about a more balanced representation of religious denominations in the Army chaplaincy, beginning with an aggressive campaign to increase the representation of Roman Catholics in the corps.
The strong economy of the mid-1990s produced public and
congressional interest in a perceived gap between military and private-sector
civilian pay. The financial boom brought with it expanded private-sector
job opportunities, increased civilian pay rates, and a civilian standard
of living that placed military housing and lifestyles at a disadvantage.
Recruiting, retention, and morale suffered accordingly.
Army pay consists of the basic pay for a grade and time in service, supplemented by a basic housing allowance for personnel not living in military housing and a basic allowance for subsistence to cover meals for those not eating in military facilities. These three components combine to establish a figure for regular military compensation, the index of military pay most often used for comparison with private-sector civilian incomes. Special pay and bonuses, reimbursements, educational benefits, and nonmonetary benefits such as health care and access to military retail stores are specifically excluded from regular military compensation and most comparisons with civilian pay scales.
Increases in basic pay are linked to raises in civil service pay through a formula that applies to both, unless Congress acts to sever the two or make other adjustments for a specific budget cycle. Each quarter, the Department of Labor establishes the Employment Cost Index (ECI), a measure of wage increases for private-sector employees. Increases in general service schedule civil service compensation are established by comparing the ECIs for the third quarters of the previous two fiscal years. The resulting rate of increase, if any, less half a percentage point, becomes the basic adjustment in civil service and military pay.
That formula produced Army pay increases in fiscal years 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999. Passage of the FY 2000 National Defense Authorization Act in 1999 suspended the formula from FY 2000 through FY 2006, setting a new military equation at ECI plus half a percentage point, a 1 percent increase over the former method. Congress generally ignores the statutory formula and the linkage between civil service and military pay by enacting specific legislation that is occasionally to the Army’s benefit. In FY 1999, legislators surpassed the 3.1 percent increase dictated by the formula by authorizing a 3.6 percent pay raise for both military and civil service personnel.
As a measure of rates of increase rather than specific dollar amounts, the
ECI does not facilitate a simple comparison between military and private-sector
civilian pay. Although allegations of a civilian–military pay gap have
persisted for decades, establishing an accurate comparison is difficult. The
complexity of military pay and the nonmonetary compensation provided
to servicemembers make any comparison with purely monetary private-sector
compensation quite difficult, and the existence of any real difference
is difficult to demonstrate or quantify.
Comparability with private-sector civilian pay is not the Army’s primary interest in establishing compensation levels. Rather, the Army needs to ensure competitiveness. Total compensation for military service, comprising its monetary, nonmonetary, and intangible rewards, must compete with civilian compensation for both skilled recruits and the continuing service of career personnel. The Army pursued improvements in military housing, health care, educational benefits, and pay increases throughout the 1990s to maintain its appeal to high-quality personnel.
Army housing remains a formidable challenge. Years of
deferred maintenance and funds reallocated for more pressing needs left
both barracks and family housing units in uncertain condition as the Army
entered the realities of post–Cold War budgets and competitive personnel
markets. In response to a 1992 tri-service survey of barracks conditions,
the Army launched the Whole Barracks Renewal Program, intended to
remodel or replace all barracks within the United States by FY 2007, those
in Europe by FY 2010, and those in South Korea by 2014. A parallel Whole
Neighborhood Program targets family housing and infrastructure on Army
bases, seeking to bring all family housing up to Army standards by 2010.
The Army maintained its dedication to those programs during FY 1999.
Housing is the Army’s greatest quality-of-life issue and a major incentive in attracting and retaining soldiers. During FY 1999, the Army took significant steps toward implementing an innovative program to privatize most of the Army family housing in the United States. The goal was to revitalize or replace entire family housing communities at major installations. The Army issued a contract for the construction of 840 new family housing units and the renovation of 1,823 existing houses at Fort Carson, Colorado. The contractor assumed responsibility for the management of housing operations at Fort Carson and received rental payments from the occupants of family housing who began collecting the basic allowance for housing provided to families residing off-post. Planning for pilot projects at Fort Hood (Texas), Fort Lewis (Washington), and Fort Meade (Maryland) continued, with the goal of privatizing 13,711
family housing units at those installations. These efforts employed the legal
authorities enacted by Congress in the 1996 Military Housing Privatization
Initiatives Act, which authorized the services to attract private-sector
expertise and capital to improve military housing.
Some military housing is simply too dilapidated for economical repair. The Army demolished 620 substandard houses during the year. Removal of the substandard units releases valuable base property for new housing construction or environmental restoration, furthering efforts to improve the quality of life on Army bases.
Providing single soldiers with housing that meets the one-plus-one standard is the highest priority in the Army’s current facilities development effort. The standard calls for each single soldier to have a private living and sleeping area. Two such private areas share a connecting service area, containing a small kitchen and a bathroom. The Whole Barracks Renewal Program pursues the standard by creating brigade complexes. In addition to individual living space for a brigade’s single personnel, the newly remodeled or constructed complexes systematically integrate the dining facility, community buildings, and headquarters areas for the brigade and its component battalions and companies. During FY 1999, the Army awarded contracts to modernize 11,700 spaces to the one-plus-one standard.
Army Safety Program analysts conclude that approximately 80 percent
of Army accidents, in peace or war, are the result of human error. Safety
Program personnel seek to reduce the volume and severity of such accidents
through the training, technical support, and expert assistance they provide
to Army commanders. Their efforts protect the Army’s ability to execute its
mission and promote recruitment and retention by maintaining the safety
of Army posts and facilities.
SafeForce 21 is the Army’s strategic plan for preventing personnel and materiel losses by integrating risk management into all Army activities. The effort begins with individual soldiers and civilians in their daily routines, and extends upward through planning and programming processes. SafeForce 21 seeks to promote risk-management efforts in the development of doctrine and training, in the acquisition process, and in combat operations. Army Safety Information Services and Technology software, the information technology component of SafeForce 21, is being developed to transform the existing accident database into a risk-management system accessible from unit-and installation-level information systems. When the software becomes operational, it will provide Army commanders with a risk-management information system capable of supporting individual initiatives while promoting the Army’s overall safety program.
The Army Safety Center directs that overall program, collecting
information on mishaps and issuing advisories about specific matters.
Through FlightFax, Countermeasure, and the Capp Report, publications
for the Army’s aviation community, ground community, and civilian
workforce, the Safety Center promotes awareness of safety issues
relevant to those audiences. But unless required to do so by law or higher
headquarters, the Safety Center does not impose operational restrictions.
This approach differs from more traditional safety office practices, leaving
responsibility for establishing acceptable levels of risk and appropriate
management protocols to local commanders.
The greatest cause of accidental death among Army personnel remains the privately owned vehicle, typically outweighing even hostile action as a source of casualties. During the fiscal year, 124 soldiers died in motor vehicle accidents. This number is particularly disturbing because it has remained nearly constant in the late 1990s, despite the Army’s overall decline in uniformed strength. In FY 1998, personal vehicle accidents claimed 117 soldiers. The number of fatalities was significantly lower in FY 1997 (91), but there were 130 in FY 1996 and 116 in FY 1995.
The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) opened its doors in
1990. Since that time, the program has provided transition counseling
and assistance to active-component personnel separating from the Army.
That assistance includes career guidance, job-search counseling, and
aid in identifying benefits and other programs available to individual
servicemembers. In cooperation with state and federal employment offices,
private employers, and educational institutions, the ACAP guides soldiers
making the transition to civilian employment. The program also assists
displaced civilian employees and military family members.
ACAP programs amount to far more than the expected résumé workshops and job fairs. The programs provide counseling on the transition to civilian life, which can be disorienting after a military career. The ACAP also identifies unique opportunities for former servicemembers, including the Montgomery GI Bill’s education benefits, classes offered by the Small Business Administration, and loans available through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Troops to Teachers is the newest program for former servicemembers. Established in January 1994, it capitalizes on the fact that long-term service in the armed forces provides military personnel with valuable experience in teaching. Troops to Teachers provides funding and special programs to encourage former soldiers to obtain teaching credentials and continue their public service as professional educators.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) manages retail
operations on Army posts worldwide. With more than $7.1 billion in total
annual revenues—which includes sales from post exchanges, fast-food
franchises, theaters, and personal service providers—the AAFES was the
eighth largest American retailer in 1999. During its1999 fiscal year, which
ran from 1 February 1999 to 29 January 2000, AAFES operations returned
67 percent of their earnings, $243.6 million, or a record $284 per soldier and
airman, to support morale, welfare, and education programs. The AAFES
accumulated that money by providing military personnel around the world
with access to goods and services comparable to those available in small-town
America. By using its earnings to support community programs, the AAFES
promotes morale and the quality of life both directly and indirectly.
A virtual post exchange opened on the World Wide Web in 1996, beginning a new era for AAFES activities. By 1999, the initiative secured a fourth-place rating on the Information Week list of the top one hundred electronic commerce enterprises, and the General Service Administration’s Office of Intergovernment Solutions cited the Web site as one of the best government sites providing online services. Through direct Internet access and dedicated electronic sales booths in post exchanges, the AAFES’ electronic retail operation offers military personnel a substantially expanded range of goods. During the 1998 holiday season, the period of greatest retail activity in FY 1999, the AAFES shifted its electronic commerce operations from a proprietary mainframe program to a simplified Microsoft-based system. The success of the change and of the project as a whole is clear. Internet sales continued to increase, totaling $24 million in 1999, and neither traditional catalog nor in-store sales suffered any long-term decline as a result of competition from the new service.
AAFES facilities may be found wherever the Army or the Air Force operates. In December 1998, the AAFES established field exchanges in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala , and Nicaragua to support Army and other U.S. military personnel involved in Hurricane Mitch relief efforts as part of Operation NEW HORIZONS. Another field exchange began operations in Tirana, Albania, during April 1999 to support personnel involved in Operation NOBLE ANVIL. Working from two truck trailers, the seventeen volunteer personnel involved in that exchange offered peacekeepers in the Balkans an array of goods similar to those found in an American convenience store. The AAFES also offered a taste of home to soldiers in the Balkans through Burger King restaurants it opened in Camp Bondsteel (Kosovo) and Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The Joint Military Mall that the AAFES opened on Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in September 1999 stands in stark contrast to the
improvised field facilities in South America and the Balkans. The new
structure is the centerpiece in the AAFES’ plan to shift toward one-stop
shopping in consolidated facilities. Combining the exchanges from
Elmendorf and neighboring Fort Richardson, along with a commissary
and specialty shops, the $32 million, 330,000-square-foot building
features native Alaskan architectural themes. The mall’s lighting design
secured nomination for both the International Illumination Design Award
and the Guth Award of the Illumination Engineering Society. Similar joint
or consolidated facilities are being constructed at Fort Bliss, (Texas), Fort
Jackson, (South Carolina), Fort Buchanan, (Puerto Rico), and Hanscom
Air Force Base, (Massachusetts).
Hollywood and the AAFES have a long working relationship, which continued during 1999 with a special pre-release screening of “Saving Private Ryan” for soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. That unit was depicted in the hugely popular World War II film. The AAFES regularly provides first-run films to overseas personnel. The newest film in the Star Wars franchise, “The Phantom Menace,” began showing on overseas bases only sixteen days after its commercial release in the United States. LucasFilms and 20th Century Fox also approved free showings of the hit movie for troops deployed in Bosnia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
Soldiers perform better when they understand their orders and share a
sense of unity and common purpose, and the nation benefits from public
awareness of the Army’s activities and mission. With that in mind, the
Army maintains several programs to keep its personnel informed and
provide information to the American public. Through the Hometown News
Service, the Army Broadcast Service, Soldiers, and other publications and
information services, Army leaders are able to provide information to
Army personnel and the nation they serve. These activities are directed by
the Army chief of public affairs.
The Hometown News Service, a joint venture of the Army and Air Force Offices of Public Affairs, generates stories of interest for daily and weekly newspapers throughout the country. These stories enhance public awareness of the contributions of local people and organizations to the Army mission, promote soldier morale, support recruiting efforts, and generally improve civil–military relations. The Hometown News Service also provides audio and video coverage for local radio and television stories. The service’s staff of forty Army, Air Force, and civilian personnel produced approximately seven hundred thousand individual news releases for use by its twelve thousand print and broadcast media
subscribers during the fiscal year. That list of subscribers includes the
266 Army newspapers found on various posts and installations. The
Hometown News Service’s most popular product may be the “Holiday
Greetings” television program, which annually provides thousands
of video greetings from Army and Air Force personnel on overseas
assignment for broadcast in their home communities.
The Army Broadcast Service operates a television and radio network for U.S. military personnel serving overseas. Through the American Forces Network (AFN) in Europe, Honduras, Kwajalein, and South Korea, the Army makes American television and radio programs available to U.S. military personnel around the world. AFN broadcasts improve the morale of servicemembers, civilian personnel, and their dependents. Beyond that simple and important function, they also provide a convenient mechanism for circulating important information and serve as a real-time source for emergency instructions.
The AFN Europe completed its transition to digital radio broadcasting in June 1999, thereby significantly improving the quality of its signal. More important for the Army’s mission, however, was the AFN Europe’s support for operations in the Balkans. The network began planning to provide radio and television for U.S. personnel in Albania during April, and, by 29 May 1999, Tirana airport featured large-screen televisions and radio receivers in high-traffic areas. Technicians brought AFN radio to Kosovo during the same period, with satellite and direct transmissions from Camp Bondsteel and Camp Monteith.
The AFN Honduras emerged during FY 1999 as the Army continued preparations to return the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama. In 1987, the Southern Command Network (SCN) assumed responsibility for broadcast activities in Panama initiated by the Navy during contingency operations in the early 1980s. During 1991, the SCN opened a subsidiary affiliate in Honduras, which became the AFN Honduras when the SCN ceased operations as part of the withdrawal of forces from Panama. The new addition to the AFN provides radio broadcasts for Soto Cano Air Force Base as part of Joint Task Force-Bravo and is the home of the AFN Atlantic, a television broadcast contained in commercial satellite service from the United States.
Soldiers, the official magazine of the U.S. Army, added a new feature during FY 1999. Hot Topics: Current Issues for Army Leaders is a separate insert that focuses on issues of particular interest to the Army’s leaders and trainers. Its second quarterly issue, in the fall of 1999, served as a conduit for introducing the Army’s new fraternization policies. By providing extended, timely commentary on such matters, Hot Topics gives the Army’s leadership another means to inform and unify Army personnel.
The Army tuition assistance program provides soldiers with the
opportunity to pursue their professional and personal educational
development during off-duty hours. By providing financial assistance for
such endeavors, the Army improves the skills of its workforce, promotes
recruiting and retention, and reinforces its long-standing commitment to
education and self-improvement. The tuition assistance program has long
been one of the most popular programs offered by the Army Continuing
In FY 1999, a uniform tuition assistance policy was introduced throughout the DOD. Active-duty military personnel may now be reimbursed for 75 percent of tuition costs, up to a maximum of $187.50 per semester-hour or $3,500 per year, to attend accredited educational programs. Reimbursement is contingent on successful course completion. According to the new policy, a soldier may receive tuition assistance to repeat a failed course if he or she reimburses the government for any assistance received in support of the failed course. Although open to all Army personnel, the tuition assistance program is not blind to rank. Commissioned and warrant officers seeking tuition assistance are required to serve an additional two years of active duty. That obligation does not apply to enlisted personnel.
The Army offered additional educational benefits to soldiers during FY 1999. The Montgomery GI Bill is the best-known of these benefits, offering a minimum of $23,400 in college benefits after completion of a two-year enlistment. The total educational benefit available to an individual under the provisions of the Montgomery GI Bill increases with more years of service and may be supplemented by specific recruiting incentives offered through the Army College Fund. The Army also offers scholarships to Reserve Officers Training Corps students and, through the Green-to-Gold program, to enlisted personnel attending college to receive Army commissions.
The Army sports program encourages soldiers to participate in athletic
activities and organized competitive sports. An MWR activity, the sports
program is intended to promote morale and physical fitness. Among its
offerings is the World-Class Athlete Program, which allows qualifying
soldiers to train for some of the world’s most prestigious athletic contests.
The Army World-Class Athlete Program furnished 123 of the 312 U.S. military athletes and staff participating in the August 1999 Military World Games in Zagreb, Croatia. Similar programs from the other armed services supported the remaining 189 participants. The U.S. contingent finished
seventh among the 82 national teams engaged in the second iteration of the
quadrennial event. Army athletes won three of the American team’s eleven
gold medals, four of the ten silvers, and two of the nine bronzes.
Ten members of the World-Class Athlete Program represented the United States in the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, during July and August 1999. The program fielded three wrestlers, one boxer, one pentathlete, a handball team of two, and three track-and-field athletes. Spc. Dominic Black won the gold medal in freestyle wrestling (97 kg); Spc. Dremiel Byers took a silver in Greco-Roman wrestling (130 kg); Spc. Dan Steele received a silver in the decathlon; Spc. Brett Wetherbee won a silver in the modern pentathlon; and Spc. Glenn Nieradka took a bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling (60 kg).
Funding for active-component military construction increased
substantially between FY 1998 and FY 1999, rising from $437 million
to $869 million. Army Reserve construction funding more than doubled
during the same period, from $42 million to $102 million. In contrast,
the budget for National Guard construction actually decreased from $215
million in FY 1998 to $142 million for FY 1999. The overall infusion
of funds allowed the Army to pursue a number of projects against the
considerable backlog of renovation and new construction requirements
presented by the Army’s aging infrastructure.
Base closings and efforts to streamline Army operations helped concentrate construction and facilities maintenance funds by eliminating roughly 68 million square feet of excess building space between FYs 1992 and 1999. But the resulting consolidation of facilities is a mixed blessing. Although the reduction in authorized Army strength and facilities meant an overall decrease in the number of buildings and structures requiring maintenance, base closures also increased their average age or state of disrepair. As a result, the Army continues to fight a holding action against the degradation of its physical plant. That struggle is clear in the reserve components, which assumed control of many existing structures from the active Army through the base realignment and closure process. Between FYs 1997 and 1999, the average age of Army National Guard structures increased by only a single year, to thirty-five years, thanks to expansion of the inventory by some 897 facilities. But the percentage of those structures considered inadequate grew from 72 to 75 in the same period. Whereas the percentage of inadequate Army Reserve facilities remained static at forty-five over the same three fiscal years, their average age grew from thirty-three years to thirty-eight years through a 28 percent expansion in the inventory, a net addition of 2,130 individual structures.
The Army’s reserve components have partially addressed the mismatch
between authorized construction or renovation projects and their facilities
requirements through innovative solutions. Reserve enclaves formed at
active-component sites closed during the base realignment and closure
process enable reserve-component organizations to move from expensive
leased facilities to less costly government-owned properties. In addition
to the enclaves, Joint Service Reserve Component Facility Boards meet
at least annually in each state to evaluate proposed reserve construction
projects for potential use by the reserve components of two or more of the
armed services. That effort has not greatly benefited the Army because
the number of facilities its reserve components use in conjunction with
another service actually decreased between FYs 1997 and 1999. The loss
of three joint facilities by the Army Reserve in that period was marginal,
lowering the total from ninety-four to ninety-one. In contrast, the Army
National Guard’s use of such facilities declined precipitously in FY 1999.
During FY 1998, Guard formations gained two joint facilities over the
previous year, bringing the total to 544. But by the end of FY 1999, the
Guard shared the use of only 162 joint facilities, a 70 percent decline.
Military construction projects are often a source of controversy, as legislators attempt to include funding for unrequested local projects in the Military Construction Appropriations Bill. Senator John McCain (R-Az) strongly criticized the practice in a statement before the Senate during discussion of additions to the FY99 Military Construction Appropriations Bill. The senator identified 114 projects within the bill that were not requested by any of the services, representing a total expenditure of almost $600 million. Those projects included ten unrequested National Guard and Reserve centers, costing a total of almost $65 million. Another $12 million was scheduled to replace dining halls at two joint civilian–military airports, at Dannelly Field (Alabama) and Fort Wayne (Indiana). In total, 95 percent of the construction projects entered into the bill by amendment were in the home states or districts of appropriations committee members. Many of them remained in the final act as approved by the legislature.
The Army also faced unusual challenges in facilities management during FY 1999. In August 1998, heavy rains produced severe flood damage to several U.S. installations in South Korea. Camps Casey, Hovey, and Red Cloud required substantial repair and new construction work when the waters receded. By 30 June 1999, the Army Corps of Engineers had awarded eight contracts to restore damaged Army facilities to normal operations. They included construction of five two hundred–person barracks, four forty-eight–person bachelor officers’ quarters, twelve company operations facilities, four warehouses, three armored vehicle maintenance facilities, and six administrative centers. Approximately fifty
Army Corps of Engineers personnel from stations in the United States and
Japan volunteered to assist with the projects, primarily through thirty-day
temporary-duty assignments. Many of those volunteers served more than
one rotation through the recovery projects, while personnel remaining in
the Corps’ Engineering Division postponed leave and worked substantial
overtime throughout the year to meet the projects’ needs. Early in FY 1999,
personnel in the Design Branch worked thirty to forty hours of overtime
each pay period, developing plans for the effort.
Panama offered a challenge even more unusual than extensive flood damage. Control of the Panama Canal reverted to the Republic of Panama on 31 December 1999. As the last full fiscal year of U.S. control over the canal, final preparations for the transfer of American facilities and property to Panama were conducted in FY 1999. The process originated in the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977, signed at a meeting of the Organization of American States by U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Panamanian president Omar Torrijos. On 1 October 1979, operation of the canal became the duty of the Panama Canal Commission, under the leadership of the former commander in chief, Southern Command, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Dennis P. McAuliffe, while the Panamanian government took control of most of the former Canal Zone.
With final transfer of the canal at 1200 hours on 31 December 1999, the United States would also transfer ownership of fourteen military installations in the former Canal Zone. After more than twenty years of preparation, in March 1999 the Army still retained roughly half of its holdings in Panama. They included 93,000 acres of land and forty-eight hundred buildings spread over the fourteen installations. Fort Sherman, on the Atlantic side of the canal, experienced a dramatic increase in workload after the last class graduated from its Jungle Operations Training Center in March, as other units inactivated and relocated through its facilities.
U.S. Army South (USARSO) activated its new headquarters at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, in July and finalized plans for the withdrawal of Army personnel from Panama. Equipment from Army and other service facilities that could not be relocated for further use was transferred to humanitarian aid groups or sold through the Defense Reutilization Office. The USARSO designated four hundred housing units as transient housing where personnel could reside for up to sixty days before departure from Panama, the estimated transit time for household goods. All dependents were ordered out of the country by August. The USARSO maintained its theater engagement plan as the transfer process continued, including scheduled exercises, military-to-military exchanges, and humanitarian and counternarcotics operations. On the final day of FY 1999, the Army stood ready to complete its withdrawal from all facilities in Panama without disrupting its mission capabilities.