The US military has been known for decades for fighting Washington’s regime-change wars. The warmongering lobby has led to the US military troops spending a better part of their lives serving in military trenches in Afghanistan or Syria or any other country whose dictator the deep state wanted to topple.
It is ironic, however, that today when the Coronavirus Pandemic which originated in China, is literally devastating the United States with every passing day, the US military cannot come to rescue. There are more than 5,30,000 Coronavirus cases in the United States, and one would have expected the US military to step up, but the military forces are themselves ailing with the novel Coronavirus virus.
The most prominent of all cases of the US military getting infected came from the USS Theodore Roosevelt- an aircraft carrier of the US Navy, which had compelled Captain Crozier to break the chain of command and write a letter to the Pentagon stating, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die.”
“As of today, 92% of the USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers have been tested for COVID-19, with 550 positive and 3,673 negative results,” the Navy said in a press release Saturday.
Captain Croizier had revealed how it was impossible to isolate the sick on the aircraft carrier with too many sailors living in confined spaces on the US Navy asset.
He warned on his letter dated March 30 that the Coronavirus’ spread was now “ongoing and accelerating” and stressed that decisive action was needed.
The Captain went on to write, “Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. This is a necessary risk.”
What this episode also lead to a mass of sailors cheering their Captain who was relieved of his command for demanding that his superiors take prompt action to check the spread of Coronavirus on the US Navy aircraft carrier.
Social media was flooded with users cheering the visuals of Captain Crozier leaving the vessel. But the people on the Pacific island of Guam argue that their concerns have been sidelined in the euphoria of the sailors.
Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, co-chair of the political advocacy organisation Independent Guahan said, “There’s an entire sea of people.” He added, “Hardly any of them are wearing masks. Nobody is social distancing. The captain himself exits the ship without a mask and shakes hands with [someone who was] picking him up … And now we’re hearing that this captain is positive for COVID.”
Guam now fears for a COVID-19 outbreak triggered by the sailors getting careless in a moment of jubilation. Meanwhile, the Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly had to himself resign days after sacking the USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain.
Modly publicly apologised for calling Captain Crozier’s actions “naive” and “stupid”, but then the USS Theodore Roosevelt is not the only instance of the US military encountering the novel virus.
As of now, there have been more than 1,500 infections and five deaths across the entire Defence establishment- the military forces and Defence Department civilians, dependents, and contractors.Department civilians, dependents, and contractors.
The Pentagon did not issue any instructions for a nationwide lockdown, and accordingly the response of the US military too has been restrained.
The working conditions within the US military around the world- shared barracks and military assets such as ships in which the troops love in closely confined spaces offer the perfect conditions for the spread of Coronavirus.
The ships in particular can be susceptible to such epidemics, an example of which we saw only months ago onboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess.
While the extent of role that the US military can play in the response to Coronavirus is still being debated within the United States, the top political leadership is still not clear on the approach that it must take in order to contain the spread of the Chinese virus within the military forces.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper had told reports last month, “I can’t put out a blanket policy, if you will, that we would then apply to everybody, because every situation’s different.” He had added, “Tell me, how do I do six-feet distancing in an attack submarine? Or how do I do that in a bomber with two pilots sitting side by side?”
Such a Pandemic hitting the US military was not entirely unpredictable given the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak in the Army’s Fort Riley, in Kansas that had killed more than 7,00,000 Americans that year.
But Esper decided to delegate quarantine and safety standards to the commanders. What this meant was different kinds and levels of restrictions and safety measures across different units and military assets. And then it might take only one unit to get infected and speed it further across the entire defence establishment. Not every commander would act like Captain Crozier after all.
The US healthcare system is getting overwhelmed but it seems that the Pentagon’s delay in announcing nationwide quarantine measures, coupled with lack of uniform instructions from the Defence Secretary might have also left the US military forces getting infected and impaired with the novel Wuhan virus.
With its military also getting infected, the US is staring at a very bleak future when it comes to combating the Coronavirus.