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Army Pauses Shipment of New Trainees to Basic

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U.S. Army/Patrick Albright
Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Recruits who were getting ready to ship to basic training will have to stay put for now as the Army implements a two-week shipping delay, a “tactical pause” aimed at minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The pause went into effect April 6. On the same day, Gen. Paul Funk, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, said during a news briefing that there were 54,000 trainees and 46,000 permanent party personnel across the Army’s training base. Of those, 102 people had tested positive for the coronavirus; 12 have recovered.

The two-week delay is being implemented during the slowest shipping months for new recruits, and it is modeled on the proven “security bubble approach” used by U.S. commanders in South Korea and Italy, Funk said.

“We’ve applied the security bubble approach throughout the training base and conducted multiple movement rehearsals for several of our training centers,” Funk said. “The COVID-19 virus is a new condition in our training environment. Commanders and leaders are trained to accept risks and mitigate those risks.”

Testing for the virus takes place before, during and after recruits ship out, said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commander of Army Recruiting Command. He said recruiters contact recruits via phone or video calls 14 days before their ship date to see how they’re feeling, and ascertain their wellness with a series of questions.

The recruits are contacted again 72 hours, 48 hours and 24 hours before their ship date, and they are screened again when they arrive at the military entrance processing stations. The same screening is repeated once they are in place at the reception battalion, where they are monitored over a couple of days and kept in place for two weeks before moving on to basic training.

During those two weeks, recruits are kept in platoon-sized elements at a social distance, do physical readiness training and receive most of the academics and classroom training they would have had throughout basic, said Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Army Center for Initial Military Training.

Soldiers already in basic and advanced individual training will continue training under the screening and monitoring guidelines established in March and will proceed to their next assignments upon graduation. This tactical pause will allow commands to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and are operating effectively at training installations, the Army said in a news release.

“We’ve already begun protecting those currently in our ranks with social-distanced-enabled training, reduced movement of our soldiers and trainees, and increased screening of those moving across our commands,” Funk said in the release. “The decision to pause the shipment of trainees to [basic training] for two weeks will allow leaders to focus on setting conditions so movement can be conducted in a safer manner in the future.”