Thousands of U.S. troops live in substandard barracks, government report finds
Thousands of service members across the military live in substandard barracks and the Pentagon isn't doing enough to fix the problem, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
The GAO inspected barracks at 10 military bases across the service branches, including four in San Diego County.
Inspectors found troops living in barracks with mold, inoperable fire safety systems and broken windows, the report says.
It doesn't specify which problems it found at each installation or whether they exist at every installation inspected. The GAO said service members were living in barracks not up to standards at seven of the 10 bases it toured.
The San Diego-area bases inspectors visited were Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and Naval Bases San Diego and Coronado.
Navy barracks in San Diego are managed by Navy Region Southwest. Regional spokesperson Brian O'Rourke said no sailors in San Diego were assigned to rooms at barracks that fall below standards.
"In general, our newer, and renovated, facilities — many operated by private partners, or those Navy facilities that have been recently upgraded through military construction projects — are consistently rated highly by Sailors," O'Rourke said in an email.
He added that the privately run Pacific Beacon high-rises on Naval Base San Diego are seen as a model for other branches. The GAO report states that service members consistently said they were satisfied with privately-managed barracks.
But they aren't available everywhere, the report says, and there are significant discrepancies in the quality of barracks rooms to which service members are assigned — sometimes at the same installation.
In 31 recommendations listed in the report, the GAO says the Pentagon should have better oversight. Right now, according to the GAO, the department doesn't track the conditions of barracks across the military.
The GAO also found that the standards military branches use to assess their barracks are unreliable and recommends that the Defense Department and every military branch clarify those standards.
A spokesperson for Marine Corps Installations West, which is responsible for barracks at Camp Pendleton and MCRD, did not respond to questions about the report.