Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is upbeat on the Army’s ability amid the coronavirus pandemic to continue training soldiers and remain ready after observing basic training last week at Fort Benning in Georgia.
“The operational mission at Fort Benning didn’t change. They adapted to the situation, implemented new protocols, and found a way to keep training soldiers,” Perdue said in a statement to Breitbart News. “Fort Benning continues to lead the way, even during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Fort Benning is home to the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, which develops and trains infantry and armored soldiers. It is also home to the U.S. Army’s Ranger School and the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Perdue observed basic combat and infantry training, including a live fire exercise. Training has continued under measures including coronavirus screening, monitoring, and physical distancing.
“Frankly, I think the Army is setting protocols that we can use as we begin to gradually reopen the economy,” said Perdue, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He praised the administration and Fort Benning’s commanding general, Army Maj. Gen. Gary Brito.
“Our national security is in good hands. The military is fully operational today. That’s thanks to the chain of command from the President, to Secretary Esper, to Secretary McCarthy, down to the generals on the frontline like General Brito,” Perdue said.
“By implementing new safety measures, Fort Benning has been able to continue training operations and maintain readiness. Our women and men in uniform are the very best we have to offer, and I appreciate their strong dedication to serving our nation during this unprecedented time,” he added.
— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) April 29, 2020
Perdue’s visit came about a week after the state began to reopen, and as each military service is grappling with ways to operate normally through the pandemic.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who visited the base with Perdue, emphasized the importance of in-person training. He said in a statement released by Perdue’s office:
Soldiers cannot achieve readiness purely through virtual means, and Soldiers certainly can’t telework to combat. We take our responsibility to protect our communities as seriously as our duty to defend this nation, and we will continue to use every reasonable means to meet both standards.
Army leaders have described creating “safety bubbles” to allow soldiers to continue to train, for example, by shifting classroom training to the first two weeks, where trainees can keep six feet of social distance and be screened daily. After that initial two weeks, they will continue with training with other coronavirus-free trainees as part of a “safety bubble.”
So far, the Army’s number of positive cases of coronavirus among military personnel has remained low: about 1,650 cases with at least 524 recovered.