March 16, 2020

How the US military's coronavirus response may screw over the reserves

By Emma Moore

The endless pursuit of lethality combined with perverse incentives for commanders means the U.S. military’s reserve component risks being left in the lurch by the government’s broad response to COVID-19.

On its face, the Defense Department appears to have gone all in on preventing the spread of the virus, initially issuing a flexible guidance that included travel restrictions for service members to Level 3 locations and a five-step action plan to prevent transmission. On Friday, after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, the DoD issued new travel restrictions banning domestic travel for DoD military and civilian personnel and their families save for cases where travel is considered “mission-essential.”

However, decision-making for the RC has been delayed, inconsistent, and largely absent. Some units have performed admirably, utilizing proactive decision-making and outside-the-box thinking to find ways to mitigate health risk while still accomplishing parts of their mission. Unfortunately, others have left their soldiers in the dark with subpar communication, a rigid adherence to pre-planned events, and over-application of “mission essential” tasks.

Read the full article in Task & Purpose.

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