Barracks 2030

Improving quality of life through management, modernization, and material
>MajGen Maxwell is the CG of Marine Corps Installations Command.
>>Maj Boivin is the Legislative Aide for Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics.  At the time of submission, he was serving in the same role for CG, Marine Corps Installations Command.

LCpl Puller is excited. After graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island as platoon guide and earning a meritorious promotion, he graduated at the top of his class at Marine Combat Training aboard Camp Geiger, NC. Now that he is on his way to Camp Lejeune from Fort Leonard Wood, a smile comes over his face—he is going to the fleet! Finally, no more squad bays, foot lockers, and listening to 30 other Marines snoring at night.

He looks forward to meeting his new roommate and settling into his role as a motor transport operator at 1/2 Mar. He arrives on base just before 1900; the battalion is secured for the day, but the duty NCO is prepared for new check-ins and directs LCpl Puller to a transient room until the barracks manager can provide him his permanent residence in the morning. After waking up and getting himself put together, LCpl Puller’s squad leader takes him through the time-honored tradition of the check-in sheet. After completing the bulk of his sheet, he finally meets the barracks manager, Cpl Krulak.

While an excellent infantryman, Cpl Krulak is still trying to figure out his new role as the unit’s barracks manager, a position he assumed two weeks ago. Unfortunately, he is still waiting on access to the barracks database because his email account was not set up, but he reviews his spreadsheet and sees an unoccupied rack in Room 201. After assuming that the room is in good order, he scans a key card and hands it to LCpl Puller. After exiting the office, Puller grabs his sea bags and starts walking down the catwalk to his room. He pauses in front of 201, takes a deep breath, and opens the door to his new home.

Here. Right here is a critical juncture in the relationship between a Marine and the Marine Corps. This is where the institution shows how it values the fundamental and physiological needs of Marines like LCpl Puller and invests in retaining them for the long term. The Commandant of the Marine Corps said as much in his August 2023 Guidance to the Force: “To recruit and retain the best we will focus on improving our barracks, base housing, gyms, chow halls, child development centers, and personnel policies.  I view QoL improvements as direct contributors to a more capable and lethal force.  Marines can always do more with less, but it is my job to make sure you do not have to do so with your living conditions or those of your families.”1

The Marine Corps prioritized FMF readiness and modernization over its installation infrastructure, including barracks, which has contributed to unacceptable barracks conditions.

The Marine Corps will improve its readiness by improving the conditions of barracks and demonstrating our commitment to Marines. As the Service that lauds itself as the most ready, it must set the conditions necessary to prepare Marines mentally and physically. A foundational element of this readiness is the physiological need to provide a space for warfighters to rest and recharge, which begins at the barracks. As leaders, we are obligated to provide Marines with safe, clean, and comfortable housing. Marines and our Nation that sends them to us should expect nothing less.

To accomplish this, the Marine Corps is implementing a multi-pronged approach to improve its barracks characterized as Barracks 2030.

Barracks Management
Today, when LCpl Puller is checking into his new unit, he will report to the barracks manager. This position is typically held by an NCO, a position Marines are not formally trained for and hold for one year. Cpl Krulak did not ask for the barracks manager billet, nor was he trained at the School of Infantry to execute his newly assigned role. Unfortunately, this often leads to inconsistent management and poor service to residents.. Due to the needs of commands and the lack of alternatives, units identify NCOs to perform the duties of a property manager with limited, to no, training and routinely hold for less than one year.

To improve the management of its barracks, the Marine Corps will hire civilian personnel to provide oversight and management of its barracks portfolio that mirrors private sector property management industry standards. Beginning in the Summer of 2024, the Marine Corps will begin hiring civilian personnel into these new positions to alleviate the pressures on operational units.  Professionalizing the management workforce with civilians can improve the oversight of room conditions and address systemic backlog issues such as tracking inventory and maintenance. A part of this change was upgrading the work request management systems. At Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the Marine Housing Office experimented with a barracks maintenance app, which allows Marines to scan a QR code and submit a work request for maintenance issues. This trial period informed improvements in the app before a broader fielding to the other installations.

This new management process will not absolve senior leaders from their role in the oversight of their barracks. Professionalizing the management of barracks with civilians will provide the continuity and requisite knowledge needed to ensure barracks standards are improved over time. This allows improved awareness of barracks quality for commanders and where to focus efforts for structural and quality of life improvements.

In addition to assisting commanders in the day-to-day barracks management responsibilities, the Marine Corps will implement a new resident advisor program. This voluntary program will allow one or two SNCOs to reside in a barracks with “resident advisor” like duties similar to colleges and universities. Ultimately, each barracks will have two SNCOs that live in the building and provide mentorship like a resident advisor program in a college dormitory. This also assists SNCOs who are living geographically separated from their families to receive quarters while assisting commands in good order and discipline at the barracks. The program can enhance living standards, ensure resident safety, and increase the leadership presence during off-duty hours. Today, the initial tranche of resident advisors are living in barracks aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar with the respective commands lauding the new program and the additional oversight and mentorship it provides Marines living in the barracks.

Currently, entire barracks buildings are assigned to commands, regardless of whether they can fill all rooms. Conversely, centralized billeting, which is employed by other Services, will assign rooms with no regard for a Marines’ unit. This means that LCpl Puller could be placed on the opposite end of the base from where he works with Marines from several different commands. To balance these two approaches, the Marine Corps will move to centralized unit allocation management, which assists in helping units maintain unit integrity while maximizing the available barracks rooms on base. Changing how the Marine Corps assigns rooms by rank will also assist in using more buildings.

The room configurations differ across all bases and installations. Depending on duty location and rank, a Marine can expect to have one or two roommates while potentially sharing a head with another room. As the Marine Corps matures its force, it must provide billeting commensurate with a Marine’s rank and responsibility. Current configurations of barracks will remain, with future designs moving toward NCOs having their own private space with a shared bathroom and common area.

There are over 150,000 bed spaces available in the 658 barracks the Marine Corps maintains.  Of these, about 88,000 are currently filled.  It is unproductive to pay for rooms not in use. A vehicle not driven in a year will have components breakdown due to non-use. Similarly, rooms that do not receive regular cleanings and upkeep will fall into disrepair. By assigning NCOs their own rooms, the Marine Corps can increase occupancy while acknowledging seniority within its ranks. Ultimately, this can improve the morale and quality of life for Marines to rest, reset, and recharge. All these initiatives will substantially transform how we manage our barracks.  But in order to ensure the long term health of our infrastructure we must invest in the buildings as well.

Barracks Modernization
Through the end of the 18th century, troops were customarily housed in private houses, inns, and other existing facilities, despite being a grievance listed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence (and banned by the Third Amendment). It was also considered bad for the soldiers’ morale to continuously relocate, and consequently, a movement began for constructing permanent barracks wherever troops were regularly stationed. In the 19th century such buildings, mostly of brick, appeared all over Europe.2 In modern times, iterations of the barracks spanned various shapes and sizes, and as recently as the 1990s, Marines were still residing in squad bays.

In the early 2000s, the Marine Corps increased the size of its force by tens of thousands to meet the demands of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the short-term impacts were positive, the long-term sustainment of the increased barracks inventory became insurmountable. The Marine Corps currently operates 658 barracks buildings worldwide with 112 (17 percent) of these buildings in poor or failing condition.

To mitigate these impacts, the Marine Corps will review its inventory and right-size the number of barracks it owns and operates to ensure adequate space for the current force and an adequate sustainment inventory. This will improve our financial position and allow us to maintain the remaining barracks at a higher standard. There are numerous financial levers the Marine Corps can pull to right-size the number of barracks; these funding levers include new construction, demolition, renovation, and modernization. The Marine Corps cannot build its way out of this problem; it must focus its efforts on demolition, restoration, and modernization, which it will begin in 2024 and aim to be complete by 2031.

Maintenance processes will also need to change with a smaller inventory. The Marine Corps will mirror private hotel industry practices during its barracks renovations. While private hotel companies will renovate sections or rooms as they become available, the Marine Corps waits until a certain period (e.g., 25 years) before shutting down the entire barracks, relocating Marines, and then completely renovating the building. The Marine Corps’ methodology in updating its facilities inconveniences Marines, particularly when they must move multiple times during the same enlistment because of poor construction practices. During these renovations, the Marine Corps needs to account for the readiness impacts on the current generation of Marines.

Similarly, maintenance contact teams will be contracted to work for the installation housing offices. These contact teams will be available to respond to emergent maintenance requirements, much like private hotel companies have maintenance workers who can provide immediate assistance to maintenance requests by hotel guests. This is currently being successfully modeled at MCAS Miramar.

Another area where the Marine Corps will address unsatisfactory barracks conditions is specifically at Camp Pendleton, CA. Hearing the complaints from Marines living in barracks about the lack of air conditioning, particularly at Camp Horno (which literally means Oven in Spanish), the Marine Corps is developing a comprehensive plan to install new air conditioning units in the area. While this is expensive and difficult due to the original design of the buildings, it is a necessary improvement following the increasing heat waves occurring in Southern California. Notably, the Marine Corps reallocated funds to begin the renovations in the summer of 2023.

Fixing Fixtures, Furniture and Amenities
Our current accommodations, including furniture and amenities, are inadequate to recruit and retain the best talent. Rooms do not need to to mirror the $3,000 apartment out in town but are more closely aligned with dormitories of colleges and universities. When LCpl Puller makes it back to his barracks room after a long day at the motor pool, he needs a space to reset and recharge and an area to foster comradery with friends.

Some of these expectations are assured in the Marine Corps’ Unaccompanied Housing Guarantees and Resident Responsibilities, which requires Marines receive safe, secure housing that meets health, environmental, and safety standards; has functional fixtures, furnishings, appliances, and utilities; have access to common areas and amenities; and fast maintenance and repair when something breaks. Published in June 2023, this document establishes the standard every Marine can expect from their command for their rooms. New oversight from civilian managers will assist in this oversight and enforce standards during check-in and check-out procedures. Until this structure is established, it is critical that leadership advocate on behalf of their Marines to ensure barracks receive the attention necessary to resolve room issues quickly, including room fixtures.

Fixtures and furniture in Marines’ barracks are old, worn down, or broken. Currently, the Marine Corps’ 32-year lifecycle timeline has been insufficient to provide Marines with quality and reliable furniture and fixtures and impacts only 2,600 (or 3 percent) of Marines living in the barracks seeing new furniture each year. Updating the refresh cycle to a 10-year investment will outfit the barracks with more current fixtures and furniture and impact 8,700 (or 10 percent) Marines annually. The furniture ordering process will also be overhauled, centralizing the funding and standardizing furniture packages—to include washers and dryers—for different barracks types to leverage more buying power.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps must understand what its current force looks for in a barracks room. This may include kitchenettes, improved connectivity for gaming, or better recreation rooms to gather with friends. Thoughtful investments in amenities and recreation rooms can mirror amenities provided by private apartments out in town but should reflect what the current generation of Marines want. A well-intentioned billiards room will become a wasted space if the real desire is a recreational room with multiple gaming stations.

Barracks for the 21st Century
What was LCpl Puller’s reaction after he opened his door? Was it disappointment about the condition of the room or pride in a clean and well-furnished home as a Marine joining his unit? His response hinges on the actions the Marine Corps does or does not take to improve its buildings. The glaring shortfalls in the current barracks inventory are evident and changes must be made. The undercurrent of these changes is mindfulness for Marines’ mental health, well-being, and readiness.

During a period of budget uncertainty, these solutions will be done at a tempo that allows for the prudent use of taxpayer dollars. Although immediate solutions are preferable, a recent Government Accountability Office report published in September 2023 “found that oversight and funding has been lacking for years” [and] “It will take years to address the chronic neglect and underfunding.”3 The Marine Corps cannot overcompensate with significant sums of money that cannot be spent smartly and risk investing in the wrong initiatives because it must spend money now.

The Marine Corps already shows a willingness to reallocate fiscal resources to tackle immediate challenges like barracks air conditioning in Camp Pendleton or updating 75-year-old barracks in Quantico. During his confirmation hearing, then Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Eric Smith told Congress: “Taking care of Marines is a warfighting function. Otherwise, they cannot focus on the mission at hand. Barracks, chow halls and gyms are a key to retaining Marines, and investments in quality-of-life initiatives are truly warfighting needs.”

By improving the barracks through professionalizing management, modernizing infrastructure, and providing better amenities, the Marine Corps will provide its warfighters with a home appropriate to the professionalism and readiness we demand.

The individual Marine is the foundation of the Marine Corps being the most ready when the Nation is least ready. The Marine Corps must provide the necessary conditions to be ready—a ready home creates a ready Marine, which enables a ready force.


1. Gen Eric Smith, A CMC Guidance to the Force, (Washington, DC: 2023).

2. Britannica, c.v., “barracks,”

3. Karen Jowers, “‘Move Decisively’ to Fix Troops’ Barracks, Lawmakers Tell Austin,” Military Times, September 29, 2023,