Army Senior Leaders hold a virtual town hall about COVID-19

By Audricia HarrisApril 7, 2020

Presenters: Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army; General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army; Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston


STAFF: Hey, good morning and welcome to our audience watch and this virtual town hall online as we livestream on DVIDS, Facebook and Twitter. This morning, we have the Honorable Ryan McCarthy, secretary of the Army, General James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, and Sergeant Major of the Army Tony Grinston.

Gentlemen, good morning and thank you for taking time for questions in this in this virtual town hall. Like the nation, the Army is confronting COVID-19 and has made adjustments so it can protect the force to ensure it can protect the nation.

This Town Hall is a chance to hear from you, our Army’s most Senior Leaders, as you answer frequently asked questions from Soldiers, Families, and DA Civilians on Army standards, policies, and programs as they relate to COVID-19. I’ll pass it off to each of you for opening comments starting with Secretary McCarthy and then we’ll get into some questions for the next 30 minutes or so. Mr. Secretary, sir.

SECRETARY OF THE ARMY RYAN MCCARTHY: Thanks Curt. Good morning everyone. Obviously, we live in extraordinary times. As I sit here flanked by teammates, we’re sitting I an empty auditorium because we’re trying to exhibit the behaviors of social distancing and ensuring we can protect the force as we manage ourselves through these extraordinary conditions.

These are truly extraordinary times that we live in and it takes measures and great people to get through that. The Army has been truly remarkable in its performance really starting with the leadership of men like General Abe Abrams and General Roger Cloutier who both in Korea and Italy respectively, who were on the front end this challenges. And both of these men and their leadership teams acted quickly and decisively and have shared their lessons learned as we’ve combatted this extraordinary event in our lives, and it’s helped the Army     gauge itself to move quickly and decisively.

None more so then the installation commanders all over the earth, how quickly they’ve moved in a decentralized nature and have really done everything they can to protect the formations and the families housed on those installations.

With over 19,000 Soldiers deployed across the 50 states and 4 territories, and thousands more in the que from our National Guard, they are on the front end providing logistical capability, medical first responders, as well as active duty units from the 101st, 4th ID, and 1st Cav that were among the first to go in New York and Washington. I know the Chief will talk about that here in a second.

But the other things to look forward to the medical research and development command led by General Mike Talley doing an amazing job 24 hours a day two 12 hour shifts 7 days a week pursuing a vaccine there 24 candidates across five different tracks that have four of which are in human testing this is the most extraordinary collaborative event in vaccination research maybe in the history of mankind and they're moving at a quick Pace the Army’s vaccine candidate in particular is moving guy at end of the primate testing this summer so a lot to look forward to but more so than anything is just the performance and resilience of our men and women helping their fellow countrymen and still meeting National objectives worldwide 191.

General James McConville: When we talk about people we talk about our Soldiers we talk about our families we’re talking about us civilians were talking about our soldiers for life, our retirees and Veterans and every one of our people has been in the fight and I just want to say how proud I am of each and every one of you this is disrupted everyone's life and everyone is doing their share the task may be washing their hands, it may be social distancing it may be sheltering in place to minimize our exposure. It maybe the medical professionals that are in New York City that stood up the Javits Center in right now or treating covid-19 patients and helping out New York City. It maybe by the medical specialist that I saw out in Washington state that put up a field Hospital in a couple days and are there to support the state as the secretary said our scientists are there working around the clock to develop a vaccination, to do high speed testing and to get some treatment that will help us defeat the virus. Our Reserve forces have stood up 15 Urban Augmentation Task Forces that are being deployed right now. Our National Guard is in every single state doing incredible things so this is a super team effort coming together to both protect the force and protect the nation at the same time will we have about a hundred ninety thousand soldiers deployed in 140 countries throughout the world so I just want to say to all of you how impressed I am with you and what you're doing and I'd like to turn it over to sergeant major for some comments.

SMA: Mr. Secretary, chief I would like to start by talking about how we are so proud of everybody and what they've done to stay fit during this time. When you talk about fit discipline and a cohesive team when actually things go bad I think you can get through bad times if you have a fit discipline and cohesive team. And to me it's very clear that we have a discipline force that can follow those orders that are given to us because we can't mobilize a team that’s sick so that you got to protect the forestry protective force their discipline they did the measures that they needed to they came together and then we could actually send those forces out those places like New York and Washington so when the nation called on our soldiers our soldiers were ready and that's what it means to be protective force in order so we can protect the nation I'm very proud of everybody and what they've done and we got to stay disciplined we got to stay healthy and stay fit.

Staff: thank you gentlemen first question will take. Social distancing as you mentioned in your opening comments Mr. Secretary and she social distancing a big thing or 6 on stage big question we've seen online is how are units supposed to train while adhering to social distancing and I and other CDC guidelines

GENERAL JAMES MCCONVILLE: The force still has to be ready to fight, we still have adversaries out there to wish us harm we still have soldiers in combat, but we really comes down to is how do you train while protecting the force and you can do physical fitness just keep 6 feet apart. You can do small unit training we like to talk about a squad with 5 meters between soldiers in the wedge and but  were asking for commanders to do is recognize what the threat is where they're at, and this virus has a threat and we have to change the way we do business, and we’ve got to minimize exposure and we also need to make sure that we're taking care of her soldiers so some large collective training is not going on. We canceled major training exercises like Defender 20. We canceled combat training rotations to protect the force and we expect every commander to do that.

SERGEANT MAJOR OF THE ARMY MICHAEL GRINSTON:  It’s about having the bubble also. It’s is making sure once we don't let the virus into our little group but we do our social distancing would keep her hands clean and then we can still do our individual task and those are the only done it in the squad level. You’ve got to keep some spacing. But the most important thing is don't let the virus into your organization and then you can do the training that the leadership is asked you to do.

Staff: On a related topic Secretary Esper issued a policy on wearing and guidance of protective masks for DOD personnel. Can we get an explanation of the guidance?

SEC. MCCARTHY: I’ll start but I think we will have the Chief and SMA join in on this. The rationale behind the policy is ultimately if you cannot exhibit six-foot distance like we have here on stage, that it is encouraged to wear a protective mask. Now, recognizing that everyone may not have a mask on hand, you can use a neck gator here in the interim. I think we will be publishing some guidance for the interim. In about seven to ten days we will have several million masks on hand to distribute to the force. But this is a protective measure out of an abundance of caution so that when soldiers are in environments where they cannot be able exhibit the six-foot minimum distance for social distancing to wear protective masks. Chief, you want to add anything?

GENERAL JAMES MCCONVILLE: This is all about protecting the force. We want to protect the forces so we can protect the nation and we're putting measures -- it runs from washing your hands to social distancing to -- to wearing masks. When we do -- we're working right now to get the masks out to the troops. They have it but there is a lot of innovation going on.

I was up at the 1st Special Forces Group in Washington state, they're making their own masks and mass producing them. And our acquisition professionals expect to have the masks out in the next week and we'll be able to do that. Sergeant Major?

SERGEANT MAJOR OF THE ARMY MICHAEL GRINSTON: There's a -- there's an immediate and then I think there's more like a near term. In the immediate, (what) we're going to do,like the Secretary said, we're going to get those masks -- non-surgical masks -- if it's a medical mask, we need all of those masks to go to the medical professionals.

The second thing is don't sua sponte and then start cutting up your uniform and then throw it -- and then -- cause I want to have a camouflage and throw that on your face. Those are non-wrinkle uniforms, you don't want that.

We're going to get you the masks. You've got either aneck gator or a scarf or something else that you can use -- black (inaudible), brown, some kind of scarf -- that's fine. There's not going to be -- this is going to be it, we're going to get you the -- in the near term, we'll get you something either black or camouflage -- but on -- but until then, use common sense, (I) don't want to see any skull and crossbones on your face, maybe a brown or something that looks somewhat professional or a non-surgical mask, that's fine.

GEN. MCCONVILLE: I just do -- I do want to reinforce what the Sergeant Major said about using uniforms. I -- our uniforms are treated with chemicals for -- for various reasons. And so we -- we do not want people using these uniforms and putting them close to their face.

STAFF: Thank you, gentlemen.

One of the most talked about changes online has been the Permanent Change of Station pause. And the latest guidance addresses the opportunity to defer assignments due to COVID hardships under nearly all circumstances, except those -- for those individuals attending professional military education of six months or longer.

Is there any additional guidance forthcoming and what is just the general guidance on PCS?

SECRETARY OF THE ARMY RYAN MCCARTHY: So the Department of Defense has halted the -- the PCS moves until May 11th. We are currently in conversations with the Office of the Secretary of Defense about how would we execute a PCS season as safely as possible.

So a lot of the things we're working on right now are what are the risk mitigation measures we could put in place to ensure household goods and individuals could move, you know, all around the country and worldwide, if necessary?

With respect to the specifics behind the prioritization, that'll be worked out, as well. But this also presents opportunities -- Chief, you can talk about stabilization or some of those things?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yeah, one of the things -- you know, first, for the reason we stopped the moves is quite frankly, we want to take care of our soldiers and families and -- for their health and welfare. Now, we know doing that, there are some families that had moved their -- their furnishing, they might have moved their cars, they're sitting in hotel rooms and -- and that's why we have two things going.

One is an exception of policy. If they're experiencing such a hardship or, you know, this is really putting them in -- in a -- a bad way, then what we want them to do is go ahead and request an extension -- exception to policy so they can actually move under this directive.

On the other hand is we do have the ability to compensate them for the money they're putting out during this time frame.

And over -- over the next 60 days, the other thing we've asked is -- and something I've been an advocate for -- is I'd like to see us stabilize families longer, leave them in a place longer, and there's ways we can do that, whether it's doing more online-type professional military education so they can stay and not leave the families. But if we can leave the family and -- and -- families should go -- go back to the Human Resource Command and say that they do want to stabilize. And if we can keep them there for another year or so, we -- we'd like them to do that.

Sergeant Major?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: Yes, sir. That's still a -- we definitely want to be able to stabilize our soldiers -- make sure they also go back to their chain of command. They can go to HRC, but also go back to your chain of command and say, "I'm already on that assignment," and on a case-by-case, we're going to look at that so we don't hurt the readiness of any organization. But we do want to stabilize them. You have to just go back, submit a 4187 through your current chain of command that goes to HRC and requests to stabilize where you're at right now.

STAFF: Thank you, gentlemen.

Another very popular topic online is the recent announcement that the Army is putting the ACFT on hold or suspending it for the time being. How long do we expect it to be suspended? And is the current APFT still going to be valid?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yeah, first of all, the Army Fitness Test is -- is the test that's in place, as many know. The -- the future test is going to be the Army Combat Fitness Test, and we've issued equipment -- equipment to many of the units. Not all the units have the equipment yet. And so what we will do with the import of the sergeant majors and -- and commanders is we will come to a decision in the future about how we implement the Army Combat Fitness Tests. People still have the opportunity to -- to work out right now, and we want their focus to be working on those events that are associated with the Army Combat Fitness Test because that's the test that actually get you ready for combat.

But as far as when that's actually going to be implemented, it's going to depend on that the conditions are set, and by conditions set, that means that all the units have the equipment, all units have had time to get their soldiers ready to take the tests, and -- and when those conditions are set, we'll make that decision.

Sergeant Major?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: Yes, sir. So -- so currently, the APFT is still the test that's going to keep you in good standing for the Army, meaning that if you had failed the APFT you still have a failed APFT. If you have a current APFT, that is -- that's going to carry you until the conditions are set, that we can either shift to the ACFT in the near future, but that's not made yet. But the current -- if you have a current and valid APFT, that is still what's going to keep you in good standing with the Army.

STAFF: Thank you, gentlemen.

The -- the reserve component obviously is playing a big fight, the National Guard and the Army Reserves. Mr. Secretary, you mentioned 19,000 soldiers deployed, a great many of them being from the reserve component. Are they -- has it been worked out that they are -- are entitled to and have the same benefits as their active duty counterparts?

SEC. MCCARTHY: Yes, there was initially, when they were working out the paperwork with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, what they have to do is a -- a state comes forward -- New York -- and they request -- they -- they declare a public health emergency or a natural disaster, and they request federal support, and they have a -- it's a legal mechanism called Title 32 where they can put a National Guard unit under a federally-funded status, and it provides maximum latitude for the governor, in this case, to exercise all of the capabilities necessary to respond.

When they were working out the paperwork for the mission assignment initially, it didn't have the appropriate number of days to get north of 31 days, where they can have all of the benefits. The Army staff was very helpful in working this out with the Office of Management and Budget, and now it is all north of the -- the 31 days required. So all of the benefits should be provided to all of these -- these Guardsmen that are out on the front edge.

Anything you want to add, Chief?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: I just want to just kind of highlight what a fabulous job our Army National Guard and our Army Reserves are doing, and they're there in the communities doing some incredible work, and they are really making a difference.

STAFF: Grooming standards is -- is a topic that -- for both male and female. Can you clarify what the current policy is for the Army grooming standard for -- for female and male haircuts, now that the barbershops are closed? And is there any intention to implement a relaxed grooming standard?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: I'm going to let the sergeant major talk about that, talk about --


I know a little -- know a little about that because that's where the sergeant major discussion, and --

SEC MCCARTHY: I was flipping it to one of you two. I --

GEN. MCCONVILLE: But what the sergeant major will talk about is when people talk about relaxed grooming standards, you -- you have to start from what the standard is, and then we can have the discussion.

So Sergeant Major, the bearer of the standard --


GEN. MCCONVILLE: Why don't you go ahead and take that one?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: I -- I -- I think everybody just needs to know what the standard is, and I'll speak to my sergeant majors and my NCOs. Know what the standards is -- are, and maybe not go overboard and say, "Oh, I want to make it sure it's next -- extra close and high and tight." Know what the standard is. The standard is neatly groomed. When your hair -- for males, when the hair is combed it doesn't fall in the eyebrows. It's not on the ears. I know you're wanting more, but it -- it's very clear in what the regulation says, but sometimes we want to -- and we always want to overachieve on the standard, and on this one I think we just need to understand what the standards are.

I think when you read what the standards are and don't read into it and -- and just follow that guidance, I think we're going to be fine.

And I think for the females it's, you know, short, medium and long hair, different styles. There's -- there may be a little bit more flexibility. There's no need to change what those standards are. But I -- I can say that I think if we just followed those guidance of what the actual standard is, I think we're going to be just fine.

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yeah, so as the sergeant major said, what the intent is meet the standard that's in the regulation, and then if there's a problem with meeting the standard, the idea that your hair is over your ears or your hair is over your eyes, we can have that discussion and probably issue a pair of scissors to the people that have that an issue.

SEC MCCARTHY: So you would be exceeds; you, meet.

GEN. MCCONVILLE: I meet the standard. Everybody meets the standard.

STAFF: Thank you, gentlemen.

The Department of Defense a week or so ago, or about 10 days ago also issued a -- a hold on redeploying units, for the most part, with the exception of -- if Afghanistan, in some cases. How long should units who are deploying or redeploying from either a -- a -- a combat deployment or a named operation deployment or a training exercise expect to be in a holding pattern?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Well, I think -- I -- I -- I'll go and take that one as -- as, you know, each -- each unit's going to be in a different situation. I would say that, you know, the intent is to get units back from training exercises as -- as soon as the exercise is over, or if there's a change in conditions for them to come back. And when they do come back, we need to make sure that they go through the proper screening and -- and quarantine exercises to make sure that we protect them and protect their families when they come back.

As far as for combat operations right now is, you know, some -- some troops are staying longer, and -- and I just want to go out to the families of those troops, that they are doing incredibly important work.

Some have had to stay longer than what -- maybe their nine months was going to be, and what I can say is they are really making a difference. And as soon as their mission is complete, we will get them back and get them with you.

But, again, they are really making a difference. What they're doing is very, very important. And we are just extremely proud of them and proud of the families who are supporting them while they are deployed.

STAFF: Sir, you mentioned quarantine. When they do come back, is there a set period of time for their quarantine? Is it still the two weeks or has it been (added on to ?)?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: It is 14 days. That seems to be the safe figure with no symptoms of 14 days.

What we're trying to do right now is get more testing out. And I think what you're going to see over the next couple months, we're going to be in a much more robust position to do more testing, which is going to help us manage the force better under these conditions.

STAFF: Another question we have is related to the PME, particularly the enlisted side, whether it be SLC or MLC. A lot -- we know that USMA has gone to virtual schooling, we know that the War College has done that a little bit. From the NCOES side, is there a plan to go virtual there or suspend any of that particular schooling (inaudible)?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: Absolutely.

And not the United States Military Academy, but the United States Sergeants Major Academy has gone to virtual. They're doing it. Even though they PCS there, they're using to keep up with their studies.

And we've also found that we could actually still do BLC. We did a couple virtual BLCs where we (did) a VTC from Italy up to Germany out of 7th ATC. So BLC, the Basic Leader Course, and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy are still going on virtually.

We have actually suspended the select, train, and educate, promote policy for ALC and SLC -- the Advanced Leaders Course, and the Senior Leaders Course. So those sergeants that are eligible, in good standing with all the qualifications, meet the cutoff score, they will be promoted to staff sergeant and those staff sergeants that are eligible, that need to be promoted, they will get promoted to sergeant first class.

There's two ways that you can make up the PME, the Professional Military Education. They can actually go back and take the class once we move the stop-move, or your unit can go in and say, "I've done all the critical tasks, I've been in a squad leader position," and I can ask to be promoted without the course.

So there are two ways: an exception in policy to get promoted without the course for ALC and SLC, or you can go back and actually do the course.

STAFF: Thank you.

And following up on that, Sergeant Major, the promotion boards (inaudible), particularly the local, are they still ongoing? How have they been affected by this situation in your conversation with the NCOS?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: Yeah, absolutely.

And we've -- so promotion boards are still going; we can do them virtually. I mean, we were -- you know, I'll echo what the chief has said, we have learned some things that we can do and -- all across, where it's a virtual board, where it's a virtual reenlistment, we've seen those too. So you can still submit the package for the board, the (inaudible) side of the board, so the sergeant major could have you do a virtual board. You can do board packets. And that's all within the authorities of the battalion commander at the appropriate level.

So boards are still happening, soldiers are still reenlisting. We're just finding great and new creative ways to do this.

And I agree with the chief: This is going to really show what we can do in the future if we have to.

STAFF: News yesterday indicated that -- or news from TRADOC yesterday was that they plan to make some adjustments to initial infantry training, particularly on the (inaudible) end and obviously as they organize the first couple weeks of basic training. How exactly is basic training and the shipment of recruits being affected by COVID-19?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Now, this gets back to all about how do we take care of soldiers as they come in the Army?

You know, their parents are sending us their sons and daughters, and what we want to do is make sure that we're providing an extremely safe environment.

So what we've done is, we're pausing for 14 days, and that allow, really, for the situation in the country to settle down. It's also allowing us to get all the testing capability into our initial entry, military training sites. And so we're doing that right now as we speak.

And so as the soldiers come into initial military training, they will be segregated, they will be screened, we'll make sure that they go into this protective bubble, they'll be doing physical fitness and then we'll be -- you know, we'll have the testing in place to make sure there's no issues with any exposure to COVID-19. And then they will go through the normal training that they've done.

And then even when they move from these bases, we're again putting them in a protective bubble, allowing them to move on to their follow-on assignments and training, and by doing this, we think we're going to be able to take care of all these young men and women that are coming into the military, in the best way.


I'd like to just -- you know, just remember, the Army's still open. We're still doing active recruiting, the recruiting stations may be closed but we're doing virtual recruiting. So if anybody wants -- that's out there that's ready to join the Army, we're still open for business, we're still bringing those in. We're just finding new and creative ways to do our virtual recruiting.

And we're pausing on the accessions coming in, but we're still doing the accessions training, basic training (is) still going. And the Army is still open for business.

STAFF: So we made an initial decision to pause for two weeks. Do we think we're going to be able to turn it back on in two weeks or are we going to have to reassess that?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Oh, we do. We feel very comfortable with the -- in our procedures that we have in place. And what we've also done, which we've never done in the past, is if a soldier is unable to ship -- they've gone through the entire process and they're ready to ship and they come from an area that we're not shipping from, we will basically put them on the payroll and -- and allow them to be compensated, basically reporting at the recruiting station, they can, you know, continue the -- work out and get fit, and then we'll bring them in the Army when the conditions allow them to be shipped.

And, again, this is a -- a good time to join the Army.  You get to be part of something bigger than yourself, you get to be part of one of the most respected teams in the country and you (get to really make a difference. So as the sergeant major said, the Army's open, we're still hiring, we're asking soldiers that may be leaving, going to a very difficult situation, if they're -- if they'd like to stay and they meet the standards, then they can stay.

I don't know if you want to say anything on that, Sergeant Major.


If they want to extend, we've got a 12-month extension. They could say, I don't feel like it's a good time to get out of the Army, if you meet all the standards to stay in the Army, just go back and see your retention NCO, see your chain of command and they'll go ahead and do that extension paperwork.

SEC. MCCARTHY: It's important to also emphasize that General Muth and Sergeant Major Gavia have been performing so well. Their command is performing so well with recruiting that they have margin in their objective for the year. So they -- even with this down month, taking this tactical pause to set the -- the conditions, we believe that we're still in very good shape -- you know, touch wood as I say that but -- they've -- they've found a way to really manage every soldier from hotspots in the country, to defer their timing and to bring them in as safely as possible. Really remarkable job by USAREC.

STAFF: Sir, speaking of USAREC, the new virtual recruiting programs and tactics that are obviously in place because of this, one of the questions is, how long are the recruiting stations going to be closed? And, two, how -- how are those tactics and those programs going, given the current recruiting environment?

SEC. MCCARTHY: Well, they'll be reopened when the conditions are such to be safe enough to get back into the office.

But I think it's important, to the points that the chief and the SMA have made repeatedly, we're finding different ways and they're also becoming very effective. It may change the business model over time, of how we recruit people. Less of the brick-and-mortar, more of the virtual. And then ultimately when they go to sign a contract, they meet face-to-face.

We've learned a lot from this -- this next generation, and they, they're -- they spend a lot of their time in the virtual space. And that's how we found means to communicate with them.

Chief, anything you want to add?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: I think it's -- I think the secretary's said exactly right, is, you know, out of every crisis is opportunity, and opportunity to learn. And so we want to do is take a look at the way we've been doing business, which in some ways has been industrial age. And we want to move into the information age, and we're finding is where those information technologies are most effective. And -- and we're going to take advantage of that, we're going to learn from that and we're going to grow.

STAFF: Another hot topic on -- on folks for families, are obviously -- the Child Development Centers, just like everything else, are affected on some of the installations. Why are come CDCs closing on some posts and then they're open on others? What's the variance there?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Well, I'll take that.

I mean, what we've done is, again, we're looking at protecting the soldiers and their families. And I looked at the number, I think we had -- we have about 200, and maybe 40 or 50 that are still open. There are some closed, I know that's very difficult on -- on the families that use them.

But it's -- it's really managing risk. We have Child Development Centers open for mission-essential personnel and -- and first responders that actually need that, and then at the same time, some are closed and then it's really come down to protecting the -- the people that are taking care of -- of our kids, making sure the kids are safe too. And what we want to do is provide a safe environment.

And Sergeant Major, do you have anything you want to add on that?


Even though some of the CDCs closed, I'd ask, if you're -- if you're struggling with, you know, how to get to work and how to take care of my children, communicate with your chain of command. And sometimes we -- we do want to be mission-focused, and I applaud all those folks. I would just ask those that are having trouble, where your CDC is closed, don't try to go at this alone.

There's a lot of people that are out there to help you, and go back and say, I've -- I've got -- I'm torn. My spouse, in their civilian job, they'd be mission-critical -- I heard this one yesterday -- my spouse is mission-critical, but then my Army job says I'm mission-critical too. Go to your chain of command and explain that to them, and don't try to take that hardship on your own. And I'm certain that we'll make the right choices.

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yeah, I just want to reinforce what the sergeant major said. That's -- we have an obligation during tough times to take care of our families, and they are a priority. It's about people first. And so we should be able to work our way through those -- those type of challenges.

STAFF: One final question, gentlemen.

I know there's been questions about the testing capability that the Army has. Could we get an elaboration on -- on exactly the testing capabilities we have at our MTFs, either CONUS, OCONUS and deployed?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yeah, it's -- you know, what we've done is -- is we're in the process of really ramping that capability up. We have -- we have nine labs that we can test that but there's new machines coming onboard, one called the BIOFIRE that we're sending downrange and to all of our critical sites where you can test on the spot.

We -- we've got these GENEX, both 4 and 16, that are coming online. They're going to, you know, give us increased throughput. And then there's this large machine, it's called a -- a Panther Fusion machine that really is going to give us the capability that we need.

What you really want is a -- a lot of throughput, you know? A throughput capability so you can do a lot of testing and that's how you safeguard the force. And all those machines are coming in, they're -- they're probably not -- they didn't come as quick as we'd like them.

And another test we're looking at, which -- which we think is really important -- the testing machines that I talk about -- talked about, they -- they tell you whether you have it or not. What I'm interested in, as the chief and the secretary and sergeant major, is have you had it?

You know, we may have had soldiers that already had it that had no symptoms and we won't know. So there's testing that's coming out -- not here yet but it will show whether you've actually had the virus. And that will help us manage risk in the force.

SEC. MCCARTHY: The only -- only thing I'd add to the chief's point is that the -- the U.S. government put in place essentially a nationwide prioritization. So many of the machines that were in the U.S. government's inventory went to New York and went to New Jersey and some of these hardest hit areas in the country.

But the -- to the points the chief made, there's a tremendous amount of capability flowing into the Department of the Army over the next three weeks and we'll have this at all of our installations in a very robust capacity across the -- the force.

STAFF: Well, gentlemen, that's all the questions that we have. Thank you for your time. I'll turn it over to the three of you for any final comments.

SEC. MCCARTHY: (Inaudible) last word?

GEN. MCCONVILLE: Yes, Sergeant Major?

SGT. MAJ. GRINSTON: Okay. So I'd just like to say, you know, life kind of just threw us a curveball and that's just kind of the way life is. You -- you -- it's not always a fastball right down the middle. This is a little bit of a curveball.

You know, we've got the greatest Army in the world and we're just going to have to adjust. You're going to adjust your goals, reestablish new goals, you -- you know, reconnect with your family, find some things that motivate you through this time of need or crisis, you know?

And I just -- a good friend of mine told my -- told me one time, he said "this uniform around the world means two things." Right now, depending on where you're at, this -- this uniform means hope -- it means hope that when the United States Army, Active, Guard or Reserve show up, that my situation in the United States is going to get better. But this still means fear around the world, too. It means if you mess with the United States Army that this -- this uniform will come and we have to be ready to strike fear in our adversaries.

STAFF: Thank you. Thank you, gentlemen.