As the weeks now turn into months, the novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has continued to spread at a rapid pace through communities, with the military being no different. Several steps had already been taken to prevent the spread of the virus, but the question remains for a number of those who have just signed up, how does COVID-19 affect basic training?

Pentagon Guidance

Service members and their families have already received word from the pentagon concerning guidelines to follow to prevent the spread of the disease. Similar to those issued to the general public, these guidelines include:

  1. Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time with good hand soap. If you are unable to find soap, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol is a good substitute until you can properly wash.
  2. Do not touch any areas of your face, specifically your eyes, nose, and mouth, if you have not washed your hands.
  3. All surfaces should be cleaned properly and often.
  4. Keep away from any individuals who may be sick.

How is the Military Responding to the Virus?

On March 9, the Department of Defense released three specific objectives that they intend on carrying out throughout this pandemic. Most importantly, they will do everything they can to keep service members and their families safe. At the same time, they plan to continue to carry out all DoD missions while also giving full support to the government and their plans.

Besides, each branch of the military has put “pandemic procedures” in place that allow for the swift determination of any military member who shows symptoms. They are placed in isolation and looked after by military medical personnel, who re-evaluate their condition daily.

All recruits and trainees are also screened for any possible symptoms and placed in isolation as needed. Their training is then postponed until they are completely recovered.

How Does COVID-19 Affect Basic Training?

On March 17, the Army cleared 1,200 trainees for basic training. Before that, all trainees had been kept as isolated as possible to limit any spread of the coronavirus.

In that time, a plan was put into place concerning how recruits would be transferred to their training centers.

First, all recruits are subject to a screening that will specifically look for the virus at one of 65 centers across the country. Upon completion, recruits will be taken to one of four main training centers where they will undergo a second screening and then be briefed on any updates and how to best protect themselves.

In the most recent update, all graduation and family day activities have been canceled until further notice. Also, any form of travel in private vehicles with family members is not being permitted. This was all done to prevent the spread of the virus when trainees travel to their next post.

It is expected that recruits will not be permitted to take their first leave, which they generally use to visit family members, after completion of AIT. Instead, they will be transported directly to their first duty station, as isolated as possible.

All travel, aside from that which is deemed essential, has been prohibited to both domestic and international locations. However, the Army has cleared the transport of recruits, as this type of travel is considered to be “mission essential.”

These guidelines are currently set in place until May 11, although there is always the possibility that they will be extended depending upon the current situation.