Army Prepared for Post-COVID-19 World

Army Prepared for Post-COVID-19 World

Photo by: U.S. Army

A new report looking at the long-range military implications of the COVID-19 pandemic finds the Army well prepared because of changes in operational doctrine and training.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments says the Army’s evolving Multi-Domain Operations concept is a way to maintain a form of social distancing through its emphasis on “dis-aggregated, distributed units with varying degrees of connectivity conducting operations across the battlespace.”

“These changes were motivated by adversary strategies and capabilities which threaten the current U.S. operating model, namely, responding to threats by assembling large concentrations of forces nearby and conducting uncontested operations,” the report notes. “An unintended but worthy side-effect in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is that reducing the density of large gatherings of soldiers, surface ships, or aircraft that can be exploited by the threat achieves many of the aims of social distancing.” 

Army advances in training, particularly in the use of simulated training environments, also prepare for a post-pandemic environment.

“It should come as no surprise that most of the methods by which the military currently trains and maintains readiness are in direct opposition to the social distancing practices required to stop the spread of the virus. Whether aboard ships and submarines, operating aircraft, or training new recruits in boot camp, military training and readiness activities often require gathering individuals close together in tightly confined spaces,” the report says of most current training. 

The future looks better for maintaining a healthy force. “At the operational and tactical unit level, military leaders are implementing a variety of measures to maintain readiness while mitigating the risk of an outbreak. In addition to encouraging teleworking when possible and implementing distancing measures at work, many units have shifted to multiple independent sections to minimize the spread within an entire unit,” the report says.

More could be done, the report suggests. “Depending on the size, type, and mission of a given military organization, some have chosen to execute 2-shift operations, disinfecting all surfaces in between and separating the shifts by one hour so that no members come in contact with anyone from the previous shift. Other units have continued to operate and train with half manpower while the other half works remotely, switching roles after two weeks.”

Read the full report here.