Defense

Army resumes sending recruits to basic training after 2-week pause

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The Army on Monday resumed sending new recruits to basic training, albeit with stipulations, after a two-week pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The service is moving forward cautiously, allowing only recruits from areas considered low risk to continue on to the Army’s four training bases.

“Those who are in high risk areas will be rescheduled for future dates,” the Army said in a statement. 

Basic Combat Training and One-Station Unit Training courses also will temporarily operate at a reduced capacity “in order to protect the health and safety of new recruits, while adhering to social-distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Army on April 6 stopped sending new recruits to basic training to ensure coronavirus mitigation measures were working at training centers.

That followed a decision in March to close Army recruitment stations and switch to virtual recruiting, most of it done on social media.

The service now moves to resume the recruit pipeline even though about 50 trainees in a single Basic Combat Training battalion at Fort Jackson, S.C., have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said on Thursday that despite the outbreak at Fort Jackson he is confident with the protocols the service has established to create a “safety bubble where there is minimum exposure to other soldiers.”

The protocols include a new road map to prevent any recruit from bringing the virus into the military, starting with an initial screening in the recruit’s home state. Recruits are also screened at the military entrance processing centers and again once they are moved to initial training facilities, with a quarantine before training begins.  

“During their first two weeks at the training centers, recruits will undergo modified training curriculums and will be closely monitored with daily health assessments,” the Army statement said.

In addition, most of the classroom-based training will be moved to the first 14 days of the 10-week basic training course to help monitor the recruits for any sickness.

As of Monday morning, there are 3,438 confirmed coronavirus cases across service members — 819 of whom are in the Army.

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