According to the latest official data, some 1,087 US troops have contracted the novel coronavirus, but the Pentagon recently said that it would allow commanders to withhold information about new infection cases. The move was justified as necessary in order to prevent American adversaries from potentially exploiting this knowledge.
Over 1,000 US servicemen, both in uniform and civilians, have contracted the coronavirus, with 97 military bases on American soil alone having been affected by the outbreak, Newsweek reported, citing an obtained “sensitive” official document that was allegedly not meant to be released.
The virus has reportedly spread across several US military branches, with the Pentagon deciding to cut its foreign operations’ personnel numbers and to bring some of the troops home quicker than previously expected. At the same time, replacements for the withdrawn troops as well as new future deployments have been put on hold for now due to the outbreak, Newsweek claims.
The report comes as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General John Hyten announced that the coronavirus pandemic had not impaired the US ability to carry out operations abroad. “Right now we have no impact to our ability to conduct operations in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Middle East, wherever we need to go”, he clarified on 30 March.
The Department of Defence previously provided information about 1,087 servicemen having been infected with COVID-19, but did not clarify how many bases have been affected. A Pentagon spokesperson later said that military commanders had been given the freedom not to reveal the number of COVID-19 cases amongst their ranks if they believe that it could pose a threat to their capabilities to carry out missions or endanger the troops.
The Pentagon justified the move by claiming that this information could potentially give adversaries of the US a hint about which American forces are currently the most vulnerable.