COVID-19 has a lot of people adjusting the way they view things, at least for the time being. A deadly pandemic has a way of focusing the mind in odd ways. That’s probably why we have a pile of anti-gun governors who aren’t shutting down gun stores despite every indication before this that they’d jump at a chance like that.
One group that most of us wouldn’t expect to do much shifting over the pandemic is the Department of Defense. After all, they have their rules and procedures and they’re not interested in changing them.
However, there’s one big change the DOD just mandated.
MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF MANAGEMENT OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
UNDER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
CHIEF OF THE NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR OF COST ASSESSMENT AND PROGRAM EVALUATION
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONAL TEST AND EVALUATION
CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS
DIRECTOR OF NET ASSESSMENT
DIRECTORS OF DEFENSE AGENCIES
DIRECTORS OF DOD FIELD ACTIVITIES
SUBJECT: Department of Defense Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings
The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the
health and wellbeing of our Service members, DoD civilian employees, families, and the Nation
in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. DoD supports, and will
continue to implement, all measures necessary to mitigate risks to the spread of the disease,
consistent with the Department’s priorities to protect our people, safeguard our national security
capabilities, and support the government’s whole-of-nation response.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face
coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,
especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Military personnel, DoD
civilian employees, their family members, and DoD contractors are strongly encouraged to
follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in public settings or where other social
distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property,
installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of
social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member’s or
Service family member’s personal residence on a military installation). This includes all:
• Military Personnel
• DoD Civilian Employees
• Family Members
• DoD Contractors
• All other individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities
Exceptions to this requirement may be approved by local commanders or supervisors,
and then submitted up the chain of command for situational awareness. Security checkpoints
may require the lowering of face covers to verify identification.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will issue updated force
health protection guidance on DoD implementation. The Military Departments will issue
guidance on wear for Service members. As an interim measure, all individuals are encouraged to
fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as clean T-shirts or
other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth area. Medical personal protective
equipment such as N95 respirators or surgical masks will not be issued for this purpose as these
will be reserved for the appropriate personnel.
The Department will continue to implement force protective measures to mitigate the
spread of COVID-19 to our total force and their families, and the American people. The latest
DoD policies can be found at https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus.
This comes as a significant departure from the days when we were told not to worry about a mask because they didn’t help, all in an effort to prevent people from hoarding the masks apparently. Now, they’re being required.
The directive comes as several states have issued similar declarations.
Where this is interesting is that masks are something of a security risk in many ways. After all, if you can’t see someone’s face, it becomes far more difficult to identify them. This could lead to all kinds of rather obvious problems.
That means someone at the DOD is either worried about repercussions of not doing it–which is possible–or they’re recognizing this as clearly the bigger threat right now that potential terrorism on our military bases.
Just something to keep in mind.