Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It wasn’t the welcome home that U.S. soldiers expected when they returned from war zones in the Middle East this past week. When their planes landed at Fort Bliss, Texas, they were herded into buses, denied water and the use of bathrooms, then quarantined in packed barracks, with little food or access to the outdoors.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) continued his pressure campaign on executive branch agencies to release guidance and response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 19, this time directing questions to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. In a letter, Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, requested the Defense Department issue guidance for uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel and to clarify their options for paid leave and telework options during the pandemic.
The U.S. government declared defense companies and their suppliers part of the country’s “critical infrastructure sector,” a designation that will allow employees to continue reporting to work even if local and state governments order citizens to stay home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
An advocacy group is complaining about the lack of strict orders from the Navy and Air Force to end in-person worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, but officials from those services say the decision to do so rests with local commanders and not their chiefs of chaplains. The Navy and Air Force stances are in contrast to the Army, which closed all chapels in the United States and Europe this past weekend, according to a memo signed by the Navy chief of chaplains and provided to Military Times.
The National Defense Industrial Association is calling on the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the defense industrial base. In March 19 letters, retired USAF Gen. Hawk Carlisle, NDIA's chief executive, said contractors are working without protections for loss of pay due to delays and without help if their supply chain is affected.
House Veterans Affairs Committee members are demanding daily and weekly updates from the Department of Veterans Affairs on its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, along with the answers to 49 questions. In a bipartisan letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie released March 18, 27 lawmakers said they are concerned about staying up-to-date as the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increases across the country.
To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.
The Precision Strike Missile’s rocket booster is so powerful that short-range shots actually put more stress on the weapon than letting it loose to fly its full distance, Lockheed Martin told Breaking Defense.
The consortium manager will oversee up to $12 billion worth of projects over the next decade.
A U.S. naval officer who is facing involuntary discharge because of a policy restricting transgender people from military service has filed a lawsuit that aims to force defense officials to allow her to continue serving. The federal lawsuit, filed March 17, is the first legal challenge to the policy since rules went into effect in April 2019 stripping transgender troops of rights they secured under the Obama administration to serve openly and to have their medical transitions covered in their health benefits, lawyers said.
The Defense Department’s mandatory and voluntary work-from-home push this week to protect the workforce from the COVID-19 virus is straining IT systems, even as the government is asking employees to make modifications to limit their consumption of network resources.