FORT HOOD — The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way military units conduct their day-to-day activities. Leaders have had to incorporate the recommended practices and procedures to keep their Soldiers, Families and communities safe.
For Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s Commander, Capt. Jamie Abel, sustaining essential operations during the pandemic was something that weighed heavily on her mind since returning from Poland in April. Approximately 70 of the sustainers of HHC, 13th ESC, deployed in support of DEFENDER- Europe 20 in early February, but the exercise was affected by the pandemic.
Ensuring mission-critical tasks are accomplished is important, but mitigating the health risks to Soldiers and the surrounding populations was something that had to be carefully planned by Abel and 1st Sgt. Terrance Porter.
In order to provide a better understanding of how operations have changed and how Soldiers are being protected while accomplishing these tasks, Abel sat down to answer a few questions on the matter.
Q: As HHC’s commander, how has your approach changed with the adjustments to operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
A: Our number one priority remains COVID-19 prevention, but most importantly, we have shifted our focus on Family support then realigning our training objectives. HHC has taken advantage of our time to work on our communications approach. We are creating more ways to reach all levels of our company since incorporating social distancing best practices. First sergeant and I have personally checked on our troops in quarantine and are maintaining the new COVID-19 protective measures in all areas.
Q: What steps do you take to mitigate the risks for yourself and Soldiers during mission essential tasks?
A: We have published the COVID-19 standards verbally and through visual means so Soldiers are aware of how to protect themselves and others. We understand the issues of the short supply of personal protective equipment, but have displayed ways for our Soldiers to meet the PPE requirements with items they already have. This allows us to shift our energy to maintaining our health and fitness.
Q: What is important for Soldiers and Families to know during these times of changed operations?