Alabama National Guard Continues to Transform
MONTGOMERY, AL (11/01/2011)(readMedia)-- Since 9/11, the Army has transformed from a heavy, Cold War force to a lighter, more quickly deployable force. In order to continue to train and support the Alabama National Guard's portion of that force, cost savings must be identified and executed. To assist in cutting costs and increasing readiness, thirteen armories across the state will be vacated and returned back to the Alabama Armory Commission for disposition in fiscal year 2012.
These changes do not reflect a decrease in force structure; no units will be eliminated. All units will be moved to other, better facilities, often closer to their higher headquarters unit.
Many of the Alabama Guard's facilities are aging. The maintenance for these sub-standard armories is expensive and diverts funds that could be better utilized on other facilities. The Alabama Guard is saving more than $7 million by vacating these armories instead of bringing them to the current standard and will save more than a quarter of a million dollars each year in maintenance costs for these 13 facilities.
Approximately 59 percent of Alabama National Guard facilities are more than 30 years old. This will increase to approximately 72 percent by 2016.
Older facilities in poor condition have various and widespread negative impacts on several things to include quality of work environment; health and safety concerns; space and capabilities to conduct proper, state-of-the-art training; and recruiting and retention of the highest quality Soldiers. "Alabama must maintain its share of trained, deployable Soldiers in order to avoid losing units to other states," said Alabama National Guard Mobilization Readiness Officer, Lt. Col. Nicky Medley. Part of that, Medley believes, is ensuring the best facilities are available for training Soldiers.
The Alabama Army National Guard is currently the sixth largest Guard in the nation and is firt per capita with more than 11,000 Soldiers.
"We considered several, important factors in the decision making process," said Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, Alabama National Guard Adjutant General. Those factors included unit readiness, historical recruiting accessions and recruiting potential in particular areas, age and condition of facilities, location of units in relation to their headquarters, ability to respond statewide to disasters, cost analysis and more.
"This was a very complex process and we didn't take the decisions lightly," continued Smith. "We wanted to ensure that we gave our Soldiers the best facilities and placed them in the right locations to provide the citizens of Alabama the best support in time of disaster."
These changes will enhance the Alabama National Guard's ability to provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities during a time of need. "We made sure to consider the communities whose armories will be vacated," said Smith. "We are ensuring that units are placed in locations that can quickly and effectively respond to every community in the state. And, those areas will have the option to re-purpose those facilities for community use. There are old armories across the state being used as churches, community centers, etc. We hope that communities will capitalize on these opportunities and use these facilities for good."
The Alabama Armory Commission will determine final disposition of each facility. If local officials are interested in acquiring a specific building, they should contact Mark Weeks (Armory Commission of Alabama, Secretary) at 334-271-7275.
The armories to be vacated are in the following cities: Georgiana, Greenville, Grove Hill, Hartselle, Heflin, Linden, Lineville, Millport, Moulton, Ozark, Thomasville, Union Springs and Wetumpka. All armories will be vacated in this fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2012. However, at this time, specific dates for each armory have not been determined due to various unit mission conditions.