CAMP PENDLETON — A golf ball rolls smoothly along the putting green, pauses for an instant and drops in the hole.
“Yesss,” said Cpl. Jayson McElroy, an administrative specialist with, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “Never thought I’d be golfing right outside my front door.”
Thanks to a new caliber of berthing facilities constructed across the Corps in response to the Commandant’s Bachelor Enlisted Quarters initiative of 2006, the recent freeze on all Basic Allowance for Housing compensation requests by single sergeants and below without dependents makes for a smoother transition.
“I picked up corporal and really wanted to get off base and out in town,” McElroy said. “Now my package is on standby, but I guess I’m not all that disappointed, I mean, I’m golfing at the barracks, right?”
Better living quarters on Camp Pendleton serve as an incentive to show Marines and sailors their well-being is a top priority within the Department of Defense. Facilities are vamped up with commodities that were nonexistent in older BEQ buildings. Wall lockers have been replaced with walk-in closets, and the white-brick walls that resembled jail cell blocks have been replaced with more aesthetically pleasing surfacing.
“If Congress and the American people have built those for us, the expectation is we’re going to have Marines in them,” Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos said in a July 28 Marine Corps Times interview. “We have declining resources, and if you tell me, ‘Listen, General Amos. You can either buy the infantry assault rifle or you can pay BAH.’ … I’m going to tell you, ‘Let’s put the NCOs back in the barracks.’”
Amos also said exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis; however, in addition to offering perks off-base housing often can’t, such as gas grills, frisbee golf courses, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, circuit-training exercise stations and, of course, Marine Corps pull-up bars, barracks-style “community” living has always fostered camaraderie amongst Marines.
“I personally believe that this will build unit cohesion and bring about better relationships between the NCO’s and non-NCOs,” said Staff Sgt. Nelson G. Dominguez, BAH Staff NCOIC, Installation Personnel Administration Center, MCB Camp Pendleton. “The NCOs will be more involved with their junior Marines’ professional development, but also on a personal level and will be able to give proper advice towards any personal subject matter. The NCOs will also have to thrive on building their leadership skills and will do so by exercising their leadership traits and principles 24/7.”
The BAH freeze isn’t an all-encompassing concept, however. Commanding officers still hold the authority to approve BAH packages at their discretion, and NCOs receiving BAH won’t have to start packing their boxes…yet.
“If you are currently living out in town, you will not be forced to move into the barracks until you are given permanent change-of-station orders,” said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett during a visit to Camp Pendleton’s Staff Noncomissioned Officer Academy, Aug. 18. “Those who have furniture and possessions that cannot be moved back into the barracks will have a government storage facility made available at no cost for as long as it takes.”
Marine officials estimate the BAH freeze could reduce the Corps’ spending by nearly $35 million per year, an estimation that may not have meant much to young Marines used to the freedoms of other living arrangements, but the hope is they will discover the alternative isn’t the lifestyle they may have once heard about from Marines whom have served in the past, according to Dominguez.
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