The Army Reserve’s return to collective training in a COVID world

By Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal | U.S. Army Reserve Command | Nov. 15, 2020

While the threat of the pandemic is not over, neither are the threats to our Nation.

To remain ready, the Army Reserve must resume collective training while maintaining the critical balance between risk to mission and risk to force, said Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew J. Lombardo, Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Reserve.

“Our adversaries have not taken pause with contesting us,” said Lombardo, “therefore we do not have the time to take pause.”
Doing so will require us to leverage all of our resources, said Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command.

"Before the pandemic's impacts, the Army Reserve made significant progress in its readiness to support large scale combat operations,” said Daniels. “That progress cannot stop.”

That means adhering to CDC guidelines while conducting readiness training.

“As we continue to operate in COVID-19 conditions, we must remain vigilant in the fight to maintain the force's health and alert for a virus surge,” said Daniels.
This requires direct and deliberate measures at every level, said Lombardo.

“Leadership at all levels will and are taking necessary steps to protect the force,” said Lombardo. “We're implementing control measures at all levels to decrease risk so Soldiers can resume training safely.”

This includes medical screenings, utilization of sanitizer and face masks, and social distancing with units being broken down into smaller groups known as cohorts.

“At the local level, units are contacting individual Soldiers at home prior to training and screening them to make sure no one comes in that could infect others,” said Lombardo.
“Those Soldiers are then screened again and receive temperature checks when they arrive to training,” continued Lombardo. “We are also keeping Soldiers and training groups separate from each other in order to mitigate risk to an acceptable level and make sure Soldiers get home safe.”

These measures have already proven to be effective in larger scale events such as Operation Ready Warrior, which was the Army Reserve’s first collective small-scale training exercise since the start of COVID-19. Nearly 2,000 Soldiers from 40 states participated in the exercise which took place at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and Fort Hunter Liggett, California. Only four Soldiers tested positive. Those who did test positive were isolated, closely monitored and fully recovered prior to returning home.

Daniels said by using these lessons learned, we will collectively find innovative ways to keep our formations ready. “We serve in unprecedented times,” said Daniels. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our Nation physically, mentally, and economically – which means we have some tough decisions ahead.”

Many of those decisions are being held by the leaders at ground level, said Daniels. It requires the ability to prioritize and the freedom to make the right decisions for your mission and environment.

“There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for this,” said Daniels. “Commanders need to assess the conditions in their local and regional areas and make every effort to phase back into normal operations.” Regardless of the challenges, Daniels said the focus remains on building strong, cohesive and trained teams.

“Rest assured, your Army Reserve has met, overcome and continues to thrive in the face of each obstacle,” said Daniels. “As we continue to transform and adjust to new missions and a dynamic operational environment, we must focus on building powerful teams of teams, to build fully capable units to fight and win our Nation's wars.”