As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads and continues to spur panic throughout the world, the U.S. military is implementing more drastic preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of its members.
During the last couple of days, the U.S. Navy and Air Force have made the decision that they will conduct boot camp and officer graduation ceremonies without the attendance of guests, starting this Friday.
In Great Lakes, Illinois, up to 1,000 sailors graduate every week from Navy Boot Camp. Similarly, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Air Force Basic Military Training graduation attracts up to 7,000 guests weekly.
The Navy and Air Force recognize the disappointment and frustration for the guests that planned to attend these graduations. Yet, both branches iterated how important it is to ensure the safety of all military personnel and guests.
Gen. Andrea Tullos, 2nd Air Force commander, stated the following: “We realize families want to show support to their loved one and they will be disappointed they can’t participate in the graduation events, but we have a responsibility to protect not only our airmen but those citizens they will come into contact with as they travel to their follow-on training locations.”
Navy Recruit Training Command spokesperson, Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Martin said that the Naval Training Command “will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical experts to decide when it is appropriate to resume guest attendance at graduation ceremonies.”
To serve as a stop-gap, the Navy and Air Force will live stream all graduations on their respective Facebook pages.
Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, commander of the 59th Medical Wing at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, explained: “This is a prudent decision to protect our people and the community in which we live and work, infectious diseases don’t respect the fence line and these actions make sense to protect us and our neighbors.”
The Air Force Academy has taken additional steps by restricting official travel outside of the U.S. and banning leisure travel to locations categorized by the CDC as being on a Level 2 alert or above.
All branches of the military have implemented rigorous screening procedures for new personnel arriving at boot camp each week.
As COVID-19 spreads, it is paramount that the U.S. military maintains its posture and strength.
A Pentagon spokesperson stated that “our assessment at this point is we have not yet seen any dramatic reduction in readiness of our forces with regard to COVID.”
This is a dynamic and fluid situation. The U.S. military is taking preventative action now in an effort to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
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