As part of the Army’s effort to limit the spread of the novel form of coronavirus making headlines this month, the service has decided to cancel all basic combat training and advanced individual training graduations starting Friday.
The decision came down Thursday afternoon from the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, according to a statement from command spokeswoman Megan Reed.
Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training, Warrant Officer Basic Course and Basic Officers Leader Course will continue training, but all graduation ceremonies and associated events across Initial Military Training will be cancelled.
“The health and safety of our Army family is our main priority, and our leadership will continue to take decisive measures to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases, and adhere to the guidance outlined by the Center for Disease Control, and the Defense Health Agency," the CIMT statement reads.
The command did not have a timeline for how long the temporary measure will be enforced, Reed said, adding that CIMT is following CDC and larger Army guidance in their decision.
U.S. European Command said Wednesday that it will also reduce U.S. participation in an exercise spanning nearly a dozen European countries, which originally involved 20,000 U.S. troops brought from the mainland United States to the continent. U.S. officials haven’t yet said how many, or which, personnel will no longer participate.
The commander of U.S. Army Europe began practicing self-quarantine earlier this week after he was potentially exposed to the virus during a conference, and Pentagon officials say they’ve begun “social distancing” measures to combat the spread of the illness.
The measure is in line with recommendations from Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon and a medical doctor, who advised simple precautions like keeping distance between people, wiping down work-spaces and covering mouths when coughing.
“No one is seriously ill at this point and everyone has been diagnosed is being appropriately treated, getting the care that they need,” Friedrichs said Monday in a Pentagon statement. “So we have implemented a number of measures in order to make sure that people are appropriately identified and treated.”
Although relatively few service members have actually tested positive for the virus, thousands of troops are located in regions that have been the worst hit, including Italy and South Korea.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.