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Chief: Training Continues With ‘Strict’ Safety Measures

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U.S. Army
Monday, April 20, 2020

The Army will “manage the risk” as it tries to balance training, readiness and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, senior leaders said.

“We are training soldiers, and we are going to continue to train soldiers in a safe environment with very, very strict measures that we talk about,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said during a press briefing April 16.

Soldiers are training 6 feet apart while wearing masks or gaiters, McConville said, stressing that “this type of training [will] continue to happen.”

“We need to make sure that our Army is ready to go to war,” McConville said. “We're going to make sure that our soldiers are ready, and we have an obligation to do that, so they will continue to train.”

The Army has implemented several safety measures, including social distancing, screening and COVID-19 testing, as part of a larger effort to stop the spread of the virus among soldiers.

“Ideally we'd like to test everyone,” McConville said. “The more you can test it, the more you're going to feel comfortable with what the status of the force is.”

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle said the Army has enough test kits right now, but more may be needed as testing ramps up.

At least 35 installations now have large capacity testing capabilities, up from nine medical centers initially, Dingle said, but testing is just one component of the COVID-19 response.

“There's a whole other series of variables that we need to look at to make sure we understand the environment that we're going to be living and operating in,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, deputy Army chief of staff for operations.

Four components are being examined at every installation, including conditions in the local community, testing capability, treatment availability, and monitoring and tracing response, Flynn said.

“Those four are a baseline of what we're trying to understand at each installation, so it informs decisions that the chief and secretary make for large-scale training, PCS-ing, schooling, opening commissaries, all of that,” Flynn said.

“I think the country is probably doing the same thing at every one of the cities as well,” he said. “And we're just trying to stay in stride with all those efforts that are going on.”