On Monday, the Army will temporarily halt the movement of soldiers to basic combat training because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command said.
“This conditions-based pause allows leaders to further focus on setting conditions to restart movement in a safer manner,” Army Gen. Paul E. Funk II said.
This is not a pause in training for the 54,000 soldiers who are currently at Army training centers, he added.
In addition to Funk, Army Maj. Gen. Frank M. Muth, commander of the Army Recruiting Command; Army Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training; and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Edward W. Mitchell, also with the Center for Initial Military Training, spoke at a Pentagon news conference today regarding the impact of COVID-19 on recruiting and accessions.
Regarding soldiers who are now training, drill sergeants have been strictly enforcing social distance-enabled training, Funk said. Also, trainees are regularly screened for COVID-19 as they continue to train.
During the pause, commanders will ensure they are following the correct and most current procedures and capabilities to screen and test recruits, he said.
For each new basic combat training cycle, there will be a two-week monitoring period before trainees start their normal, eight-week period of instruction, Funk said.
The command has applied lessons learned from U.S. forces in Italy and Korea, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he mentioned.
“We are still training every day to fight and win our nation’s wars as our nation expects us to do,” Funk said.
Leaders also talked about the precautions being taken before trainees go to training bases.
Muth noted that all recruiters are now doing virtual recruiting over social media instead of having face-to-face contact.
Hibbard said the prospective trainees are screened for COVID-19 at all military entrance processing stations as well as when they arrive at the training base reception battalion. From there, they are moved into the two-week controlled monitoring.
Monitoring, he added, means asking the soldiers questions about their health and taking their temperatures.
After the 14 days, collective training starts but will be with social distancing.
Defense.gov (April 2020) Army Orders Pause in Shipment of Trainees to Initial Military Training