Recruits with Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, participate in a Marine Corps Martial Arts training session at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, April 5, 2021. Recruits were taught basic self-defense to prepare them for close combat encounters. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Zachary T. Beatty)

DoD OIG: Lax COVID-19 Precautions in Basic Training Could Negatively Affect Mission

Basic training is the initial period of training for new military recruits. During basic training, recruits obtain instruction that teaches military principles while preparing them for their careers. Disease outbreaks, such as COVID‑19, can occur while recruits live in close quarters during training.

Each Military Service develops and executes its own basic training program at training centers across the United States. To determine whether the Military Services followed guidance and implemented procedures to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID‑19, the Defense Department Office of Inspector General selected six basic training centers to review: the Army’s largest basic training center and all of the basic training centers for the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. The six basic training centers selected for review were:

  • U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, South Carolina;
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depots, Parris Island, South Carolina, and San Diego, California;
  • Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois; and
  • Air Force Basic Training Center Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland, Texas and Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Finding

Despite the challenges with the global pandemic, the DoD and Military Services established procedures to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID‑19. However, OIG determined that the Military Services did not fully implement the procedures at six basic training centers. Specifically, the training personnel at the six locations reported that they had challenges with:

  • implementing DoD and Military Service-specific guidance issued to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID‑19;
  • the screening and testing of training personnel;
  • practicing preventive measures, such as wearing face masks, washing hands, cleaning common areas, and enforcing social distancing (6-feet); and
  • maintaining the quality of recruit training due to basic training modifications.

As a result, the potential for positive COVID‑19 cases among recruits and training personnel may increase. From January through August 2020, [REDACTED] of 99,106 recruits and [REDACTED] of 6,007 training personnel at the six basic training centers tested positive for COVID‑19. Any positive COVID‑19 case could impact the life and safety of military personnel and their families, as well as the DoD’s ability to accomplish its mission.

Recommendations

OIG recommended that the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Marine Corps Training and Education Command, Naval Education and Training Command, Naval Service Training Command, and Air Education and Training Command develop procedures to ensure compliance with the implementation of COVID‑19 guidance at basic training centers.

OIG recommended that the Marine Corps Training and Education Command and Air Education and Training Command develop procedures to ensure compliance with requirements for the screening and testing of recruits and training personnel. We recommend that the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command develop procedures to ensure compliance with the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

OIG recommended that the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, Naval Education and Training Command, Naval Service Training Command, and Air Education and Training Command develop procedures to ensure compliance with proper use of cleaning supplies necessary for basic training.

OIG recommended that the Naval Education and Training Command, Naval Service Training Command, and Air Education and Training Command assess manpower requirements for training personnel to ensure compliance with COVID‑19 procedures and take appropriate action.

Management Actions Taken

In response to the draft report, the Military Services’ training commands provided documentation that outlined actions taken during the audit that addressed several recommendations made in a draft of this report. If the documentation showed that the Military Services’ training commands took action before the issuance of a draft of this report, December 7, 2020, we considered those actions as actions taken during the audit. Specifically, the Army developed procedures to ensure compliance with the screening and testing of recruits and training personnel and the use of cleaning supplies necessary for basic training. In addition, the Army and Marine Corps identified additional training personnel requirements needed to support COVID‑19 procedures. The Navy developed screening and testing procedures for recruits and training personnel. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force used lessons learned to ensure compliance with the use of personal protective equipment.

Read the Defense Department Office of Inspector General report

(Visited 77 times, 6 visits today)

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Leave a Reply

Latest from Coronavirus

Go to Top
X