Pentagon halting troop movement for 60 days

Cheryl Sanders
March 26, 2020

A two-month freeze on overseas deployments for US military personnel and their families has been ordered to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The measure is by far the Defense Department's most sweeping to date and will affect forces around the world. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered all troops to remain where they are for the next 60 days.

In a statement, the DOD said that the marine's "work space has been cleaned by a Pentagon response team and a thorough contact investigation is underway to mitigate risk and preserve the health of the workforce at the Pentagon".

The drawdown of some 3,400 troops, leaving about 8,600 in Afghanistan, "is scheduled to be complete within 135 days following the signed agreement", the memo stated. The statement said Esper's order "is not expected to impact" the drawdown of some 4,000 USA troops in Afghanistan targeted to be completed within 135 days of the February 29 peace pact with the Taliban.

A full withdrawal of all USA and coalition forces would occur within 14 months of the deal getting signed, if the Taliban holds up its end of the deal.

The Pentagon said Thursday cases of the novel coronavirus have quadrupled in the US military since last week, with more than 280 service members now infected around the world.

The Department of Defense has reported up to 453 cases of Covid-19 among service personnel, contractors and civilians, as of Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, the US military announced it is elevating its health threat level to "Charlie", meaning only essential personnel will be allowed onto military bases.

"Our curve is not flattening", Friedrichs said during a Pentagon news briefing.

"We are not maxing our capacity in our labs around the world", Joint Staff Surgeon Brig.

The U.S. military reports a 65 percent spike in coronavirus cases; Jennifer Griffin has the details. On Tuesday, Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said people should expect the outbreak to last at least three months in the United States. The drawndown of troops from Afghanistan will not be affected by a 60-day freeze on US military personnel deployments that has just been announced.

So far, the military has said that it was preparing to deploy field hospitals to Seattle and NY, and has put additional units on prepare-to-deploy orders.

A graphic provided by Statista shows the global spread of the new coronavirus.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working in NY to see how it can increase bed capacity and the Corps has said it is looking at converting more than 10,000 NY rooms, potentially in hotels and college dorms.

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