Army stops paying storage costs for deployed soldiers as it works on new policy
Stars and Stripes December 28, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Army is replacing a years-old policy that allowed soldiers who are sent on deployment to store personal items — such as vehicles — at no cost while they’re gone, the service said.
The decision was made by Army personnel officials in recent months and the move took effect on the first day of fiscal 2024.
“Effective 1 October, 2023 … activities are therefore no longer authorized to fund [household goods] or [privately owned vehicles] storage requests for deploying soldiers,” Army Sustainment Command wrote in a memo outlining the change. “There is no authority to grant exception to this policy, however, unit commanders may use their designated motor pool or a designated fenced area to store [vehicles] for soldiers on [temporary deployments] at no additional cost.”
“Although [regulations] establish that a service member … may store special storage of [household goods] and [private vehicles] if authorized/approved, the Army has no written policy authorizing or approving these entitlements,” it continued.
The impetuses for the change, officials said, were budget constraints and a determination that there’s no Army policy that “explicitly authorizes” such storage benefits for soldiers sent on contingency operations, which are deployments in which soldiers may have to engage in combat.
Army personnel officials indicated to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, however, that a new policy for storage benefits is coming.
“Army Sustainment Command discontinued the use of operational funds to store vehicles privately owned by soldiers deploying on non-contingency operations due to policy and funding constraints [or issues],” said Sgt. Pablo Saez, an Army spokesman. “We understand the burden this could potentially place on soldiers, and [the Army] is drafting policy that would enable such storage.”
Costs associated with moving and storing personal items can be high. The Pentagon’s joint travel regulations note that they include “shipment, drayage, packing, crating, unpacking and uncrating.”
News of the change drew frustration from some in social media channels.
“Once again our soldiers are being asked to pay the burden of being deployed,” one critic wrote.
“I can’t imagine why recruiting and retention are hurting,” another said.
Neither the Army nor the Air Force or Navy met their recruiting targets for fiscal 2023. All three were a few thousand recruits short of their goal and are working to overcome modern recruiting challenges — such as a smaller pool of qualified candidates and low interest in military service among younger Americans.
According to recent Pentagon data, just 23% of Americans between 17 and 24 qualify physically and academically for military service.
Recently, the Army has had trouble even storing some of its own stuff. In October, a report by the Defense Department inspector general said almost $2 billion worth of the Army’s land combat equipment had been deteriorating due to improper storage.
Among those items were gas turbine engines worth more than $89 million, which the report said were stored for long periods outside when they should have been put away indoors.