Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | May 29, 2020

Leaders Describe Lessons Learned From COVID-19 Risk Mitigation

By xxxDAVID VERGUN, DOD NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Some practices adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic have benefitted the troops and may be continued after the pandemic abates, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.

During a visit yesterday to Marine Corp Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Esper said at a virtual Pentagon town hall meeting today, he learned that measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing had prevented COVID-19 cases and other respiratory tract illnesses, as well — leading to a decrease in sick call numbers overall.

That resulted in a higher number of recruits being available for training, so many of these measures will likely continue even after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. ''Some good will come of this,'' he said.

Esper was joined by Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón ''CZ'' Colón-López at the town hall meeting. They answered questions about COVID-19 from service members, Defense Department civilians and family members around the globe.

''We're not going to get back to a normal the way it was,'' the secretary said. ''It will be a new normal. Lessons learned that we adopt from this will be a new normal in many ways. But we will get there. We've made a lot of great progress in the last four or five months.''

Milley said many valuable lessons are being learned. For example, virtual and simulation training is being made more available, and the training has been demonstrated to be as effective in many cases as live training.

Another lesson learned, he said, is how to overcome challenges working in close quarters, such as in tanks, submarines or aircraft. To meet the challenge, the services have quarantined personnel before they are put together in close quarters; once together, they take additional precautionary measures.

Colón-López said many of the lessons learned come from feedback on things that are working and things that aren't. He encouraged everyone to keep feedback and comments coming through the chain of command.

The SEAC also noted that an important lesson learned is that anyone experiencing depression or other mental health issues should seek help. The military, he said, has a legion of chaplains and mental health providers who are ready to assist.

''Seek help. Do not just stay silent out of pride just because you're too strong. These are hard times. Not just for the Department of Defense but for the nation,'' Colón-López said.

Esper said it's especially important to reach out to friends, particularly those in tough situations. He added that those in the chain of command should be looking out for their people, and he said he's confident that's being done. ''This is a time to double-down and re-energize your social networks,'' he said.

''We all want to get back to normal,'' he continued. ''We all face these unique situations, and we're all anxious to get on with things as best we can, as well, but it's all about protecting the force, our people.''

Esper noted that the department is transitioning to a conditions-based, phased approach to personnel, movement and travel. Guidance that was published this week will lessen the burden on DOD personnel and their families while ensuring continued operations in a safe manner, he said.

The department is providing commanders with additional guidance as they look to change health condition levels at installations, he said. ''These measures will allow commanders to make risk-based decisions as they begin to return to normal operations in-line with local missions, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance, and in consultation with their medical leadership. We are not going to open up the Pentagon or other installations unless we are confident that it is safe place to work. That is our commitment to the force. We will get through this and we will get through this stronger than ever before.''

Milley offered a final piece of advice: ''Keep your eye on the mission, continue to take care of yourselves. Continue to take care of your families.''
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
304,840
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Nation Observes 80th Anniversary of Attack on Pearl Harbor
A graphic created for the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Dec. 7, 2021 - WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 7, 1941, 80 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, an island in the then-U.S. territory of Hawaii.  Some events leading up to the attack provide context to what happened that day.Spotlight:...

Timor-Leste, U.S. Begin Bilateral Exercise CARAT Timor-Lesteral Exercise CARAT Timor-Leste
Aviation Electronic's Technician 2nd Class Labaron Johnson, from Conroe, Texas, assigned to the “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, gives a tour to members of the Timor-Leste Defense Force of an MH-60S Sea Hawk from the flight deck aboard Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise. In its 27th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partnered navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. Charleston, part of Destroyer Squadron
Dec. 7, 2021 - PORT HERA, Timor-Leste -- Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) and U.S. military are partnering in the 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime exercise, virtually, on land, and in the territorial...

3DMEB and the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade begin Annual Command Post Exercise Yama Sakura 81
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III., commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force visits Exercise Yama Sakura 79 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 12, 2020. YS 79 allows Marines, and their Japanese counterparts to maintain their interoperability, and readiness to respond to any crisis or contingency in the Indo-Pacific region.
Dec. 7, 2021 - OKINAWA, Japan -- The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade are taking part in Yama Sakura 81, an annual command post exercise, Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, 2021 at...

Indo-Pacom, Southcom Leaders Discuss Allied Security at National Forum
In this file photo, Adm. John Aquilino delivers remarks during the change of command ceremony for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, where he assumed command. Aquilino, who was previously the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, acknowledged Indo-Pacom's critical role in providing regional peace and security.
Dec. 7, 2021 - WASHINGTON -- Advancing U.S. security through partnerships and alliances with other nations was the topic discussed by two combatant command leaders at Saturday's Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan...

Korea Defense Veterans Association hosts annual education conference for Junior Service Members
Retired Maj. Gen. Lee Seo Young, Korea Defense Veterans Association Korean chapter president, educates the audience on the history of the Republic of Korea and United States alliance during the 2021 KDVA Alliance Education Conference Nov. 24, 2021 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The KDVA’s mission includes honoring both ROK and US sacrifices that were made in order to preserve the welfare of the Republic of Korea.
Dec. 7, 2021 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) hosted their 3rd annual luncheon at Osan Air Base, Nov. 24, 2021. This education conference was established in 2018 to help educate junior...