As Americans across the nation make changes to their daily lifestyles due to COVID-19, training units on Fort Leonard Wood have also made adjustments while they continue to conduct the critical mission of maintaining the Army’s readiness to defend the nation.
“I get asked a lot, ‘Why are we still training?’” 3rd Chemical Brigade Commander Col. Adam Hilburgh said. “The Army’s mission is to fight and win our nation’s wars, and in order to do that we need to maintain readiness, and one of the ways we do that for the Army is to provide trained, disciplined, quality Soldiers to the force, and we do that continuously.”
But, while training America’s sons and daughters, Fort Leonard Wood’s three training brigades — the 3rd Chemical Brigade, 1st Engineer Brigade and the 14th Military Police Brigade – have implemented prudent precautionary measures and mitigation protocols to protect everyone.
According to the three brigade commanders, some of the new procedures in place include: trainees being screened before arriving at the Military Entrance Processing Station; while processing at MEPS; and again when they arrive here at reception. Other measures include no company- or platoon-sized formations; more frequent and thorough cleaning of areas after every use; and spacing out bunks in the barracks. In addition, trainees march and perform physical training in small groups with appropriate distance.
Additional hand-washing stations have also been placed across post and at entrances of dining facilities. To maintain optimal social distancing, meal times have been staggered so fewer trainees are in each DFAC at any given time, and to-go meals are prepared to avoid large gatherings.
For those in training, adjustments are being made to limit physical contact between students and instructors, even implementing virtual training whenever possible.
“We have looked at every training event and made necessary adjustments to reduce risk,” Hilburgh said.
Initial entry training units — basic combat training and advanced initial training — will experience these reduction measures during the time that is historically the busiest season. The importance of Fort Leonard Wood’s training mission is magnified in light of the surplus of recruits the Army had this year, after a decrease in recruiting in years prior, officials said.
Leaders across post continue to adhere to the guidance outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19.
“Our personnel are proactively taking the actions recommended to protect themselves and those around them,” said Col. Kip Korth, 1st Engineer Brigade commander.
Protecting the whole force is a priority leaders continue to reiterate, Korth added.
“The biggest thing is taking care of our people — military, civilians, family members and trainees,” Korth said. “We have to ensure their safety while we are executing our training mission. It takes a complete team-of-teams effort in order to do this and we have no fear of this challenge.”
Leaders continue to emphasize their commitment to safety through information, as well.
“Over the last few weeks, our team has been focused on keeping our leaders, Soldiers civilians and families informed of the latest changes which have been appropriate, but rapid and consistent,” said Col. Robert Arnold, 14th Military Police Brigade commander. “Our leaders fully support this effort as this is the right thing to do and the very best way to accomplish our mission while taking care of our people.”
For more information visit Fort Leonard Wood’s COVID-19 website at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/coronavirus.