Army Leaders Detail Efforts Against Coronavirus

Army has 288 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — 100 are soldiers, 64 are civilian employees, 65 are dependents, nine are cadets and 50 are Army contractors.

Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and others briefed reporters at the Pentagon today on steps the service is taking in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. They spoke about force health protection, coronavirus testing and how the service maintains its combat effectiveness.

The Army has also reached out to retired personnel who have the qualifications to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The Army has 288 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — 100 are soldiers, 64 are civilian employees, 65 are dependents, nine are cadets and 50 are Army contractors.

McConville said that the service is rushing two field hospitals to the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.

The 531st Army Hospital from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the 9th Army Hospital from Fort Hood, Texas, received orders to deploy to New York City on March 23.


Army gauges interest in voluntary recalls of medical soldiers

The Army is gauging interest from retired officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers who would be willing to assist with the coronavirus pandemic response effort should their skills and expertise be required, according to an email sent out Wednesday afternoon and provided to Army Times.

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that’s why we’re turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,” the email reads. “When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”

The email listed a series of Army health care jobs that would be of interest: 60F, critical care officer; 60N, anesthesiologist; 66F, nurse anesthetist; 66S, critical care nurse; 66P, nurse practitioner; 66T, emergency room nurse; 68V, respiratory specialist; and 68W, medic.

The message included an email signature for Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, the Army deputy chief of staff for manpower.

An Army spokesperson said the email was part of their department’s effort to gauge “availability and capabilities” of retired career medical personnel to assist with the pandemic if needed.


Army Orders All Medical Units to Prepare for Possible Response to Virus Outbreak

The Army’s chief of Staff said Friday that the service has asked every medical unit to assess their capabilities in the event that they are needed to respond to areas hit hard by the potentially deadly novel coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Army gave two combat support hospitals (CSH) — one at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington, and the other at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — a “prepare to deploy order” as the U.S. government wrestles with how best to help communities if the spread of COVID-19 intensifies, Gen. James McConville told reporters at the Pentagon.

He said the Army has also given a “warning order to all our Role 3 hospitals,” facilities staffed and equipped to provide care to all categories of patients, to include resuscitation, initial wound surgery, specialty surgery and post-operative care.

“Every [medical] unit in the United States Army has been told to take a look at their capabilities and capacity so they can come back to us,” he added.


Army Social Media Employee Fired over COVID-19 Post on Service’s Official Instagram

On Saturday, the Army fired a social media manager over an Instagram post relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The post that appears to have been the one to bring down the wrath of higher-ups was answering a question, “Why did a man eat a bat” — seeming to refer to the theory that the virus originated from someone eating a coronavirus-infected bat in China, which hasn’t been verified.

“It wasn’t because he was thirsty,” the Army’s response said, including an emoji of a man shrugging.

The post was immediately criticized on social media for being inappropriate, with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Army veteran, calling it “simply unacceptable.”

“We do not know how #COVID19 first infected humans but racism has no place in our Armed Forces,” she tweeted. “I’ll be calling @SecArmy to find out how this happened.”

According to Military Times, the post was up “for several hours before being deleted.”

As of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University, more 320,000 people around the world have contracted the disease — and more than 13,700 people have died.


Army Employs All-Out Effort to Combat COVID-19

Army researchers are working to rapidly develop and test experimental vaccines to combat COVID-19, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.

The Army is also collaborating with the private sector and other government entities on 24 vaccine candidates, some of which are headed for human testing after having been tested on animals, he said.

McCarthy conducted a Pentagon press briefing today to discuss the Army’s efforts to prevent the spread of and find a cure for COVID-19.

The Army and other partners are working to more rapidly conduct COVID-19 testing to screen the force at a higher rate, he said. Currently, testing is at a rate of 810 samples per day and plans are to increase that to more than 16,000 per day.

The Army has nine medical treatment facilities with clinical laboratories certified to conduct testing, he noted.

In the treatment effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with state governments in 13 states — and that number will reach 18 by this evening — to provide planning and concept development and increase bed space on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.


Soldiers can apply for hardship, isolation allowance if impacted by stop-move policy

Army personnel can apply for hardship pay and isolation allowances if they’ve been impacted by the Pentagon’s halt on permanent change of station moves during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, service leaders said Thursday during a call with reporters.

If a soldier and their family isn’t interested in moving any longer, they can also apply through Human Resources Command to remain in place.

“The Army proactively stopped movement to protect our soldiers, preserve our capability and protect our nation,” said Lt. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, the Army’s deputy chief of staff G-4. “The stop-movement allows for very few and very specific exemptions for personnel movement that are currently being adjudicated at a very high level.”

Exemptions are limited to rare cases, like extreme family hardships, Army officials said. Those exemptions would have to be approved at the Army’s vice chief of staff level, they added.


This is Fort Bragg’s FOB-style quarantine

The Army has set up remote facilities on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for paratroopers returning from overseas and entering quarantine during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, division officials said.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been returning from deployments to Kuwait and Afghanistan and entering quarantine since the weekend. So far, they’ve been put up in barracks on post, with the exception of the first night, when some paratroopers returned and had to shelter in a PAX shed near the airfield typically used before parachute jumps.

The more remote facilities include “Gyms In a Box,” internet services, mobile laundry units, catered food services through a contractor, mobile restrooms and showers. Catered food includes two hot meals and a cold one, which would be a sandwich meal for lunch.


Hundreds of soldiers returning to Fort Bragg after 9-month deployment are quarantined

Hundreds of Fort Bragg soldiers are quarantined after returning from deployment Saturday.

The 300 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team were deployed in Afghanistan for nine months and will be quarantined for at least 14 days as a precaution amid the spread of coronavirus across the country, The Fayetteville Observer reports.

U.S. Army officials told the Associated Press the quarantine is just precautionary and, as of Saturday, no one in the unit or on the base had tested positive for COVID-19.


Travel Restrictions for DoD Components in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019


Two US troops, 1 coalition member killed, as more than 15 rockets slam Iraqi base

Two U.S. service members and a troop from a coalition partner nation were killed in a rocket attack in Iraq, a Defense Department official told Military Times Wednesday.

The official said that there were also about a dozen people were injured in a volley of 18 rockets that hit Iraq’s Camp Taji base.

Shortly after the attack news reports emerged that the third person killed was a UK national. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said that the government is “aware of an incident involving UK service personnel at Camp Taji, Iraq. An investigation is underway, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Camp Taji, located just north of Baghdad, has been used as a training base for a number of years. There are as many as 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi forces and conducting counterterrorism missions.


US Army takes 40-mile shots from extended-range cannon in demo

The U.S. Army took two shots from its Extended Range Cannon Artillery system, which both reached 65 kilometers in range and hit their intended targets, in a demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on March 6, according to Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, who is in charge of long-range precision fires modernization, the Army’s top priority.

The demonstration proves the cannon is capable of firing roughly 40 miles, which is about the distance between Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, Maryland. The capability would also benefit the service should it face near-peer adversaries on the battlefield.

It is unclear whether the Army was pushing its shots out to the maximum range of capability or if the projectiles are capable of reaching farther ranges.

A long-range cannon is intended to give the service a desired level of standoff outside of the range of enemy artillery, where it can destroy those threats and open up windows of opportunity to advance on the enemy in highly contested environments.

The Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team under Army Futures Command has made the ERCA system development one of its centerpiece priorities over the past several years.


The Army Is Looking for Its Best Rangers, Snipers and Hand-to-Hand Fighters

In April, Fort Benning, Georgia, will hold four simultaneous competitions to find the best Rangers, snipers, combatives experts and mortar crews, putting competitors through a series of mentally and physically exhausting tests during Infantry Week.

“Shooting, moving, communicating — our mission is to close with and destroy the enemy in close combat,” Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the Army’s Chief of Infantry and commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School, said in a recent Army news release.

Infantry Week is designed to commemorate the formation of the U.S. Army infantry, which dates back to 1775 and the Revolutionary War, Hodne said.

“As it was in 1775, the Infantry still looks at our enemy in the ‘whites of their eyes,’” Hodne said. “So, this is a week that showcases how good our infantry is.”

From April 13-19, Benning will host the Best Ranger Competition, International Sniper Competition, All-Army Lacerda Cup Combatives Competition and Best Mortar Competition.