The U.S. military is charting its own course during pandemic

And there's no room for Trump's false bravado in that mission:

Defense Department restrictions barring troops, their families and civilian workers from nearly all official travel will not be lifted May 11 when the initial orders were set to expire, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

The worldwide travel halt has stopped thousands of military moves and has forced some deployed units to remain overseas longer than expected. Esper did not announce immediately how long he expected the stop-movement order to last. But a new target date to end the restrictions meant to help thwart the coronavirus spread could be announced this week, he said.

I've had some feedback from active duty folks who say mid-June is the likely new target. Understand, this is not something the DoD would do unless they were very concerned. PCS moves (Permanent Change of Station) are not about service members going where they want; they are mission-critical re-assignments to keep the myriad of units at capable staffing levels. And freezing deployed units in place (wherever they are) is an expensive and often dangerous nightmare. It's a stark contrast to Trump's push to "get back in business," and we should look at this military stance as a bellwether on the COVID 19 threat level. And in case you were wondering about the ship Captain Crozier sacrificed his career over:

The military has learned a great deal about the virus from its largest outbreak, aboard the now-sidelined nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Milley said. That outbreak has seen 589 sailors test positive for the virus in the weeks since the first case was reported March 14.

But among those cases, only 213 coronavirus-infected sailors have displayed any symptoms of the disease, Milley said. Four of the ship’s sailors are now hospitalized and one died Monday of complications of the virus, Navy officials said.

The military has tested about 93% of the Roosevelt’s nearly 5,000 crew members, the Navy said.

There are only 11 Nimitz class aircraft carriers in the U.S. fleet, but usually only about half of those are deployed while the others undergo maintenance. Taking even one out of commission for non-mechanical reasons is a crisis. But if COVID 19 gets loose on other supercarriers, our entire strategic formula would be altered.

**Update: Captain Crozier may be getting his ship back:

The Navy is looking into whether it can reinstate Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed from command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he pleaded for more help fighting a novel coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, Defense Department officials said on Wednesday.

Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, has indicated that he may reinstate Captain Crozier, who is viewed as a hero by his crew for putting their lives above his career, officials said.

But Admiral Gilday’s decision could be upended by President Trump, who has not been shy about intervening in military personnel cases. Only five months ago, Mr. Trump fired Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer for opposing the president’s intervention in support of a member of the Navy SEALs accused of murdering a wounded captive with a hunting knife during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.

Admiral Gilday and Gen. Mark A. Milley (pictured above), the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had both cautioned Mr. Modly not to fire Captain Crozier until after an investigation into the case has been completed. Mr. Modly, believing Mr. Trump wanted the captain dismissed, ignored them, officials said.

I'd love to see this, but it an extremely high-exposure issue. Of course that's Trump's fault for being the epitome of a REMF, but he'd never admit that.



It's been extended to June 30th

As I said, this is some serious business:

The decision was made by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley “after careful consideration and assessment,” said Donovan, who would not rule out an extension beyond that date.

“Never say never,” he said when asked if the ban could extend beyond June 30.

He added that the decisions will be reviewed every 15 days and could even result in the travel ban being lifted earlier. And it is possible, he said, that those who do move could be placed in 14-day quarantines. Many decisions like that will be pushed down to installation commanders, said Donovan, because they best know the coronavirus situation in their localities. Also, host nation restrictions will come into play as well, he said.

The move comes as upwards of 100,000 troops, along with families, are gearing up for the annual Permanent Change of Station season.

Keep in mind, most active duty folks do *not* live in base housing, they rent or buy in the local real estate market. And many of those 100,000 are going to be paying for two houses or apartments until they can complete their moves. And before you say it, no, you don't move to a new posting and then start house-hunting.