26 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Defence ‘adapting’ to pandemic toll

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The United States Department of Defence is having to adapt its operations in the midst of the pandemic, top officials say.

Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten said he expects the virus to potentially sideline some weapons systems after the outbreak took the aircraft carrier, Theodore Roosevelt (pictured), out of action.

“It’s not a good idea to think that the Teddy Roosevelt is a one-of-a-kind issue,” General Hyten said.

“The Pentagon is working to isolate service members for 14 days before they deploy, but it is still figuring out how to adjust protocols for combat.”

There were 416 positive cases on board the Roosevelt, a significant portion of the US military’s total cases.

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus has revived debate over whether there should be a military draft or a universal service obligation.

The release of a two-year report on the subject attracted little notice last month as the COVID-19 crisis dominated the news, with the biggest headlines focused on its recommendation that young women be required to register for a hypothetical future draft.

Now some say the events of the past few weeks have transformed the debate.

Political Science Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Charli Carpenter said that in a past crisis of this magnitude, young men had been called up and trained virtually overnight to perform numerous skilled jobs in the armed forces or in the Public Service.

“Young women have been mobilised as well — into the military, the medical corps or factory work,” Professor Carpenter said.

She suggested that in the current crisis young people could have been trained intensely and quickly to fight the virus, building hospitals and distributing food.

Washington, 13 April 2020

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