Kunsan Command Team Unveils Dorm Improvement Plan

Eighth Fighter Wing Commander Col. Chris B. Hammond and Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie J. Woods, the wing’s command chief, have created a multi-year plan to improve the state of on-base living at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, they told Air Force Magazine.

“We’re here for a year, but we’re approaching things with a 10-year outlook, and that 10-year outlook includes all of our dorms and making sure that they are renovated, [and] that they are worthy of our Airmen’s ability to live,” Hammond said in a Zoom interview from the base.

The “Kunsan Dorm Master Plan” calls for the demolition of the base’s already-condemned Building 609, construction of a new dorm that’s slated to begin in 2025, and fixes to other dormitories.

“In the next five years, Kunsan has $34.1M of planned renovation projects for 11 of our dormitories that will compete for funding at the Air Force level,” the document states.

The timeline for the plan’s execution is contingent on USAF and Republic of Korea Funded Construction program funding.

A $1.3 million contract to renovate Building 522’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (or HVAC) system was awarded at the end of fiscal 2020 and work is slated for completion this month. Photos of moisture-related issues from the dormitory—whose authenticity the wing confirmed to Air Force Magazine—were published on the unofficial (though now seemingly-defunct) Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page in August, prompting wing leadership to take a closer look at dorm safety concerns and encourage the Kunsan community to bring quality of life issues directly to their chain of command.

“It was some of the end of the year fiscal year funding that our comptroller squadron and civil engineering squadron were able to identify [and] tackle there,” Hammond told Air Force Magazine. “That money had been delayed due to special measures agreements delays here in Korea, and so as a result, we were able to pull those forward and take advantage of that.”

While the Air Force didn’t fund any renovation projects for fiscal 2021, the wing intends to knock down Dormitory 609, which is already condemned, “as part of a new Dining Facility project in the 2021 ROKFC program,” the document stated.

The plan for fiscal 2022-2027 tentatively calls for the following:

  • Fiscal 2022: Renovate Building 340, pending the receipt of construction funds; design work is already complete.
  • Fiscal 2023: Renovate all of Buildings 504 and 1418.
  • Fiscal 2024: Renovate all of Buildings 617 and 1401.
  • Fiscal 2025: Build a new $53 million dormitory, which will be funded by the ROKFC and house 384 Airmen. The wing also plans to renovate all of Buildings 603 and 1431.
  • Fiscal 2026: Renovate all of Buildings 1264 and 1406.
  • Fiscal 2027: Renovate all of Buildings 535 and 1264.

The base can only renovate two dormitories a year to ensure sufficient bed space for Airmen, and tentative dorm improvements slated for fiscal 2024-2027 may occur in a different order than the document laid out, according to wing officials.

“Kunsan AB will continue to look for short-term and in-house projects while the DMP renovation and repair timeline progresses,” the document added.

The Dorm Master Plan also includes short-term solutions aimed at making Airmen’s lives more comfortable until tentative renovations are funded. These include the procurement and distribution of portable air conditioners to the wing’s “most affected Airmen,” and the distribution of dehumidifiers to each dorm resident for use in their bedrooms, the paper noted. This is especially relevant because, as Woods told Air Force Magazine, a recent health and wellness check at the base’s dorms revealed HVAC system deficiencies.

The wing has also doubled down on the Bay Orderly program to make sure common areas in these residential buildings stay tidy from day to day, it said. It’s also contracted an investigation into Kunsan’s utility problems—including a dorm engineering analysis—that will run from Nov. 8 until next May, according to the document. 

“They’re gonna be coming out taking a look at our infrastructure, taking a look at how we do things, and try to come up with better ways to really get after ensuring that we take care of our Airmen,” Woods told Air Force Magazine in a recent interview.

Once the study concludes, the wing “will have targeted projects ready to award that will permanently fix the systemic HVAC issues,” the paper states.

Woods said the renovations to dormitory 522 and the study will collectively cultivate “an environment of transparency” at the wing, where Airmen and their families can trust its leaders enough to bring quality-of-life concerns to their attention. 

The wing is also training its Airman Dorm Leaders (or ADLs) to be more tech-savvy so they can more quickly address resident Airmen’s issues.