The shame of Camp Roberts

March 27, 2011

The California Army National Guard has come to depend upon Camp Roberts, on the northern tip of San Luis Obispo County, as its primary training facility, but a new investigation reveals a facility in great disrepair amid waste on a grand scale. [Sacramento Bee]

Soldiers, many of whom are on their way to Afghanistan or Iraq, arrive at Camp Roberts to find neither air conditioning nor heat available in the barracks. In Building 4001, service members routinely find raw sewage bubbling up in the showers and toilets.

Scores of buildings on the base created as temporary structures during the urgency of World War II are still in use with jury-rigged plumbing, missing floor coverings and peeling paint. Some are falling apart.

An extensive investigation by the Sacramento Bee found that millions of dollars in building materials, appliances and other supplies sit unused or ruined in Camp Roberts warehouses. Inventory controls are so poor, according to internal Guard reports obtained by The Bee, that officials don’t know what they have or what is missing. Meanwhile, the camp routinely orders dozens of unneeded items.

The squalor at Camp Roberts stands in marked contrast to nearby Camp San Luis Obispo, which boasts a well-appointed officers club and picturesque chapel with gazebo.  Camp San Luis Obispo has been updated and expanded over the years.

Camp Roberts is by far the largest of the California Guard’s three major training camps. On average more than 1,100 soldiers train here per day. Counting salaries for 560 full-time employees, modernization and federal stimulus funds, camp officials project its annual economic footprint at $58 million.

But a June 2010 inspection report obtained by The Bee suggests that some of the shabbiness stems from a breakdown in storing and tracking millions of dollars of supplies and tools in a row of 70-year-old, rundown warehouses where appliances and office furniture rust outside on loading docks.

The report says accounting for much of the property was impossible, in part because more than half of all contents, valued at millions of dollars, were not logged. Sorely needed building materials, worth an estimated half-million dollars, had aged past their usable life span. Sheetrock and wood doors rotted outside, according to the report, and vehicles damaged in accidents were left untouched for up to a year.

Another camp report says only one warehouse worker was employed to maintain the camp’s entire inventory in buildings with jumbled shelves and leaky roofs. Even four full-time workers, the report indicated, would need more than 18 months to put the warehouses right.

Meanwhile, Camp Roberts purchased dozens of unused weed trimmers and 31 sets of 100 drill bits, the inspector indicated, “even though they have hundreds of spare bits on hand.”

“If the people of the state of California knew how their tax money is being spent but then not used,” the inspector wrote, “there would be an uproar.”










  1. bobfromsanluis says:

    Apparently, waste in the operations of the military of the US (and probably all other nations as well) has a long and troubled history. Looking at the history of Harry Truman and especially the “Truman Committee”, you can see how congress can be effective; his committee spent (in dollars of his time) $400,000 to investigate and stop fraud and abuse and is reported to have saved the country $15 billion (again, that is in actual dollars of the time). The main problem now days is the insidious relationship between the military/industrial complex and Congress where the defense contractors contribute big big campaign dollars to almost all congress members and Senators so the idea of actual investigations that could uncover the fraud, waste and abuse will most likely never be resolved. The real shame is the amount of money we spend on our military versus what we get out of having a military force that serves us well. We in the United States spend more on military expenses than all other nations of the world, COMBINED! If waste in military spending were eliminated, we could continue with all of the bases we currently operate all over the world and be as effectively reading for any potential conflicts and only spend between one third to one half of what we spend now. Cut out the fraud, waste and abuse, eliminate many of the unnecessary military bases around the world since we don’t really need to be the world’s police force and we could have as good of a military (or even better) and only be spending about twenty five percent of what is being flushed now. Military spending could be cut drastically without weakening the ability to do the job, but as long as we have the corporations in control of donations to our political leaders, nothing will ever change very much.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
    • yodaiam says:

      This story on Camp Roberts is only the tip of the iceberg!!! If they ever checked into the East Garrison side it is just as bad as main post(or was, I hear it is almost deserted now also). After seeing first hand the lazy, greedy attitudes from the top down for 22 years I gave up trying to help change things. Camp Roberts and Sacramento officals not only ignored reports through proper channels but basically found a way to freeze out any one that brought to light the “wrongs” in the system.

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  2. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I think it is funny how people on both sides of the aisle are blaming each other. This has gone on in both Democratic and Republican administrations. I worked in maintance at Camp Bob in the mid eighties for about six months. The place is no more delapitated looking now then it was then. It has always been run down since I got here in ’80.

    The Gov. is just slow moving as usual. When I worked there, up on the west end by the East Garrison, (I know makes no sence) there was a LOT of buildings in an area that was chained off. I would guess at least 50+ old barricks. It was posted no passing because of asbestos. It was slated for destruction but tied up in red tape. I notieced years later in the ’90’s sometime, that they finally tore it down.

    One last. The reason I quite that job was I couldn’t STAND how long it took to get things done. I was working on a building and ordered some simple industrial glue for a project that you could get down at Blakes in Paso. I thought maybe get in week or two. Told it would take six months. I thought it was a joke, till told that is how long it takes to get things on base because of all the red tape and hands the paperwork had to go through. Well that with some other things, made me realize a job there would drive me around the bend.

    If they can’t even do something as simple as I said, is it any wonder our Gov. is so screwed up!!??

    Oh and yes it is disgraceful the situation that we have for our troops training to go overseas to protect our nation.

    (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  3. inmyopinion says:

    OK, I think most dont realize that there is more going on at Camp Roberts than we know. Have you ever taken the time to notice the ginormous A/C – Heating Units that sit on the ground? Ya, lots of underground bunkers and operations going on. Have you noticed all the building and communications towers and road material coming in. We are thinking just like they want us to. That Camp Bob is a run down, useless facility that hoardes loads of junk. Way to go, now follow along with the rest. Just my own opinion. Thanks for listening.

    (0) 14 Total Votes - 7 up - 7 down
  4. Typoqueen says:

    Some of the posters are 100% spot on. I grew up on military bases and the waste was incredible.
    As tacky as this sounds, as kids we used to enjoy going to the military dumps. We would find thousands and thousands of dollars worth of new things in the dumps, still in the packages. We came home once with boxes and boxes of new military arctic jackets. These weren’t your regular jackets these were specially made for sub zero temps. There must have been a few hundred of them, brand new never used. In today’s market I would guess that each of these jackets would probably go for at least a few hundred dollars. This happened all the time and is only one example of military waste. Nothing new here. That’s not the only problem. On one of the bases we lived near one of the big military hospitals. In a ditch behind the hospital we would find not just thousands of dollars of new medical supplies but also old used medical supplies. My parents freaked out when we came home with used syringes and used surgery knives. We were lucky we didn’t get hepatitis or some other nasty thing. My father went to the base commander and it soon stopped but this is typical for the military. They feel that they don’t have to answer to anyone. That being said, I love the military and loved growing up in the military so I hope that one day these things will change but it’s been going on for a long time.

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • danika says:

      You were lucky you didn’t get arrested for theft of government property!

      (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        Arrested, by who? Danika, you only wish. Trust me, the MPs had better things to do then hassle kids who’s father might have out ranked them several times over.

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • pasoparent5 says:

      Your dumpster-diving adventures don’t sound tacky; you must’ve been quite a resourceful kid! LOL

      Another good place to salvage treasures is your local school campus after dark. Yeah–it’s risky and you should do it carefully but believe it or not, I’ve found LOADS of like-new and brand new stuff–office supplies, books, etc. Just like Camp Roberts, public schools (K-12 and universities) are extremely wasteful with our tax dollars.

      Haven’t been caught once…

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        Awhile back they moved what I believe was the continuation classrooms for the LMUSD on Traffic way. They were tossing out computers, printers, dictionaries etc. I guess that they tried to sell some of it but who wants computers and printers that they can’t get the software for or that they can’t get into so they ended up throwing them away. They could have kept and used the stuff but rather than move it they just purchased new stuff and tossed out the older equipment (it didn’t look that old to me). You’re right pasoparent. We could save so much money if someone would step up to the plate stop this ridiculous govt. waste and the schools are another good example of that.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  5. wlb says:

    This really cracks me up. This stuff has been going on for decades, and it takes a story written by a newspaper 250 miles away to get the locals attention. Then just for a little extra bs for the bs meter, we will go ahead and complain about current presidents, former presedents, and government programs that have nothing to do with the problem at hand. I hate to say it but some of you sound just like the politicians you complain about.

    (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
  6. ApathyWillKillYou says:

    I guess none of the posters here have never served in the military.

    Camp Robers may be a blatant example of inefficiency and waste but that’s what the military does!

    Did you know that up until a few years ago if you got INJURED in COMBAT in Iraq and had to go to a military hospital then your meals were DEDUCTED from your pay!

    Did you know that Haliburton (Cheney’s former company and the same ones that may be responsible for the Gulf oil spill) were contracted out to feed our troops in Iraq with allegations of spoiled food!

    Our troops are clamoring for body armor and other much needed suppies while places like Camp Roberts squandor and waste! And Camp Roberts is just one little cog in the green machine!

    (12) 18 Total Votes - 15 up - 3 down
  7. R.Hodin says:

    sounds like it’s about ready to be drowned in a bathtub

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  8. rallyraid says:

    I have an idea…how about rounding up a few hundred local “free aid” recipients and busing them to the camp where they can work off their “aid” in service of those who protect our country. Its programs like social services has using my tax dollars pay to put crackheads in decent hotels to live because they cant find work, yet those who offer their lives for this country get to live in squaller that just don’t make sense.

    (37) 43 Total Votes - 40 up - 3 down
    • racket says:

      I am all for a program as you suggest, and I too am outraged.

      The bugaboo I see is that the same bunch of morons that cannot run the camp, and cannot clean up the crackheads are going to have a bonanza of inefficiency if put together.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
    • yodaiam says:

      I don’t know if it is still going on but there was a program there at Camp Roberts involving just what you mentioned. There were scores of young criminals in the California Youth Authority that worked the grounds and did clean up.
      Again I will say there is no reason for what has happened at Camp Bob over all these years but laziness and greed that starts at the top and goes all the way down the chain. If the people involved in this and other messes spent half the time really working as they do trying to dodge their work and responsibilities I guarantee it wouldn’t be like this.
      It is not all political, it is the lack of work ethic!!!

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  9. danika says:

    We are appalled every time we drive north on the 101 and see the rundown Camp. It looks more like a POW encampment than an Army training facility. I’d much rather waste taxpayers money sprucing up the Camp than throw it at other pet projects of this Administration. If CR is going to be used, then improvements are a must; otherwise, close it down

    (18) 30 Total Votes - 24 up - 6 down
    • willnose says:

      Hey danika –

      Still blaming OBAMA for everything gone wrong with the country before he ever took office?
      Get a grip and look at how long this mess has been going on at Camp Roberts, and everything else broken and neglected in our country!

      Perhaps OBAMA will use some of the money his administration made from the bailout profits (yes – PROFITS!!) to take care of what the real war-mongers and profiteers of the last administration have neglected most – OUR TROOPS and taxpayer money!

      (-6) 34 Total Votes - 14 up - 20 down
      • mkaney says:

        Uhh I hate to break it to you but there are no profits from the bailouts. They just shoveled the money into the companies through another route, and then the companies used that money to pay back on bailouts and TARP. That’s not to blame Obama or Bush, because in case you haven’t noticed the Republicans and Democrats have similar overall agendas.

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • danika says:

        I grew up here. I have driven passed CR for 49 years. It once was respectible but no longer. As far as Obama goes…well, his approval rating (or lack thereof) speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

        The administration should invest in the restoration of CR. This would be AFTER he took office. Would no doubt help to boost his approval rating too!!!

        (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down

Comments are closed.