On Monday Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that for the Pentagon and armed services a "new normal" should be expected for "an extended period of time". This after the Pentagon has now for many weeks been down to what's essentially a skeleton crew of reduced personnel working on site.
“The long-term view is: What do we do over the next 6, 12, 18 months?” Esper said in a virtual conference for a D.C. think tank event . “There will be a new normal that we will have to adapt to for an extended period of time at least until we have a vaccine that we’re confident in.”
Meanwhile this "new normal" is already greatly impacting regular ranks throughout the United States Army and other branches. A new Wall Street Journal article explores how mission protocols have shifted dramatically, in a way "where warfighting and coronavirus collide".
The Army has reportedly now been able to reorient itself away from a domestic emergency response (of doing things like set up emergency make-shift hospitals) to deploying on foreign missions once again.
"Approximately 900 troops from the Fourth Security Force Assistance Brigade, which is based in Fort Carson, Colo., are scheduled to go to Afghanistan in the fall and will be the first large group to undergo Army training for overseas deployment since the onset of the pandemic," WSJ reports.
"In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, military resources were largely devoted to building makeshift medical facilities and providing supplies to hard-hit areas in the U.S. But as demand for military medical help has receded, the military has shifted back to security operations."
But even deployed to Afghanistan and other places, the "new normal" will be immediately felt, given that to remain effective, soldiers have to first attempt to stay health, and prevent themselves from getting infected.
The WSJ continues:
A barracks that normally bunks 44 soldiers instead will hold only 12, in cots spaced 6 feet apart. When waiting in line at an assembly building, troops must stand in prespaced squares, painted red. Masks, gloves and eye protection will be required. So will temperature checks, quarantines and social distancing.
“The idea is to keep them in a bubble,” Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, said. He underscored that, “We’re looking at the long game. We’re not waiting for Covid-19 to go away.”
Like much of the rest of the US and the world, the Army has been in short supply of both coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment. It's already taken drastic steps which many generals fear could damage US defense readiness, such as temporary pauses to sending new recruits to boot camp.
And with nearly 5,000 COVID-19 cases across the military, including two deaths, also with an entire aircraft carrier crew, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, knocked out of commission by the virus, deployed personnel will have to face the difficult task of some level of 'social distancing' while carrying on already challenging foreign missions.
But we have a novel idea that would make all of the above incredibly easy: How about just ending all regime change ops and 'wars of choice', foreign occupations, and trillion dollar 'nation-building' deployments altogether? As we recently underscored: America, we have to end the wars now.