PCS Travel to Restart Soon to Some Locations

PCS Travel to Restart Soon to Some Locations

Photo by: Stephenie Wade

The Pentagon has lifted an order restricting almost all travel for service members and their families, replacing it with a new conditions-based plan to better match cities and states as the U.S. military slowly recovers from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial stop-movement order, which was put in place in early March and then extended through June 30, affected everything from permanent change-of-station moves to temporary duty assignments.

This new May 22 memo signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper allows commanders to implement a more tailored approach based on local conditions, Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said during a May 26 press briefing.

The COVID-19 virus still presents a risk to service members, the memo states, but “improving conditions warrant a transition in our approach to domestic and overseas personnel travel to a conditions-based, phased approach.”

Donovan and his team will “continuously assess each U.S. state or territory and nations that host greater than 1,000 permanently assigned DoD personnel” using guidelines set by the White House, Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They will track the removal of shelter-in-place orders or other travel restrictions, a 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19 symptoms, and a 14-day downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases or positive tests.

In turn, the service secretaries and combatant commanders will assess the conditions of each DoD installation, facility or location under their purview for the removal of local travel restrictions; the availability of essential services such as schools, child care and moving services; capacity at the medical treatment facility; testing capability; the capacity to isolate personnel returning from high exposure locations; and other factors.

Some areas could meet these criteria and “go green immediately,” Donovan said, adding that his office will regularly publish updates so commanders can see which parts of the country or overseas locations are safest.

“This conditions-based, phased approach prioritizes the safety and security of our personnel, their families and our communities, while balancing the need to advance service members’ career opportunities, unit rotational deployments, and other imperatives,” Esper wrote in the memo.

Read the full memo here: