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Milley: COVID-19 Will Have Lasting Impact on Military

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DoD
Thursday, April 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting effects on the military and how it operates in the future, the nation’s top military officer said.

“Is it back to business as usual? No, I don’t see that,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said. “I don’t see how, with the effect this has had on the economy, the fact that you’re sitting here all 6 feet apart, people wearing masks, the shutdown, for all intents and purposes, of major metropolitan areas.”

The pandemic has also impacted the rest of the world, including some countries that “are very fragile, that are in various states of civil war, or they have violence internal to their societies,” Milley said during a press briefing April 14.

“There’s significant stress as a result of this COVID-19 virus on the internal politics in other countries, on their economies, on resources. There is an increased probability or at least a risk of instability, significant instability, in some countries,” Milley said. 

“We’ve got to take a hard look at how we, as a military, as a Department of Defense, conduct operations in the future and what we need to do to apply those lessons learned and implement them so we can continue to be effective in a post-COVID world,” he added.

The military is already studying lessons learned from the pandemic, including how it employs ships, submarines and brigades, which require large numbers of troops to be in close quarters. There also are plans for a larger, interagency review. 

“Think about all the supplies, masks, gloves, ventilators and all of these supplies,” Milley said. “There are a lot of lessons and implications, not just for the military but also for the broader whole-of-government that we need to seriously think through in the coming months and then implement those as time goes on.”