Army Chief of Staff says some soldiers will continue to train amid COVID-19 pandemic

"What we don’t want people doing is having large formations"

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the United States, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said on Friday that small groups of soldiers can still continue training, while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

“We want small amounts — if you take the squad, a lot of times when squads are training, it’s a five meter distance the way they move and maneuver, so they can continue to train and have that social distance,” McConville told reporters during a briefing on Friday.

“What we don’t want people doing is having large formations. What we don’t want people doing is putting large amount of soldiers maybe into an auditorium for training where there’s a much greater chance to spread.” 

Though the Army has had to adjust large-scale training exercises, such as Defender-Europe 2020, leaders have maintained that the global pandemic won't result in them taking their foot off the gas to maintain readiness

McConville added that while soldiers can still train in the field, it should also be taken into consideration what the soldier's mission is. If a soldier has a “critical mission” coming up, such as a combat mission, they need to continue to train to prepare for that. 

“If they have other soldiers if the mission isn’t so essential,” McConville said. “You can take the proper measures to account for that.”

Haley Britzky

Haley Britzkyis the Army reporter for Task & Purpose, covering the daily happenings in the Army and how they impact soldiers and their families, as well as broader national security issues. Originally from Texas, Haley previously worked at Axios before joining Task & Purpose in January 2019. Contact the author here.

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