VICENZA, Italy (May 4, 2020) – As the host nation begins to enter its COVID-19 transition phase and slowly reopen the country, U.S. Army Garrison Italy Garrison Commander Dan Vogel outlined the recovery plan for post operations and services during the weekly COVID-19 town hall meeting on May 1.
“Our greatest concern is the risk involved in spreading the infection as we bring additional base operations and services back online. History of past pandemics has shown us a second wave of infections may occur if we move too quickly in too little time,” said Vogel.
At the heart of the garrison recovery plan is a uniform process where directors, managers, and officers-in-charge make recommendations for reopening their respective services. Recommendations will be reviewed by working groups that are part of Task Force Recovery.
“Task Force Recovery created a template to present which we call a ‘baseball card’. This template requires the provider to describe how they intend to operate their service, identify mitigation measures that will require meeting all safety protocols, and resources required to restore any service,” Vogel explained.
Every Thursday, the recommendations to reopen services will be reviewed by the senior responsible officer for USAG Italy, U.S. Army Africa Commander Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier. He will make the decision to reopen or keep the service closed.
“We need to make the right decisions to protect the force, stop the spread, and maintain readiness,” Vogel said.
A risk assessment is at the heart of the garrison recovery plan, as well as at other garrisons throughout Europe. Base operations and services restoration have been categorized at low, medium, or high risk depending on the risk of infection.
“Low risk services may be relatively easy to reopen. The decision to reopen a medium risk operation will be decided by the SRO. High risk operations will require approval from US Army Europe. This process is not much different than decisions made for PCS travel, travel restrictions, and school closures,” Vogel explained.
While a new Veneto Region ordinance on May 3 relaxed protective measures and more decrees are expected if infection rates remain low, restoring base operations and services here won’t be fast, warned Vogel.
“Garrisons throughout Europe…not just here….will take one additional precaution: following any host nation decree, we will trail that decision by a minimum of 72 hours. It could be up to 14 days to allow for a full period of incubation to pass. Don’t expect change to be immediate,” he said.
While many in Vicenza and Camp Darby military communities have experienced stress and frustration over the past two months, leadership is hopeful the Recovery Task Force process will ultimately improve services and make USAG Italy a better workplace for federal and Italian professionals.
“How we operate in the near future will be fundamentally different than the period before COVID-19. I am are asking our Directorates, Tenant Units and organizations to find new and innovative ways to deliver services in an environment where COVID-19 exists. We are focusing on increasing our technology capabilities to provide more services in a virtual manner. We embraced and will continue to support a culture of telework and flexible work schedules. We are reconfiguring common areas to limit crowds and eliminate lines. We are pursuing software applications to support online appointment scheduling. We are also looking at ways and means to make the community more resilient into the future,” Vogel said.
The Recovery Task Force Town Hall where Vogel explained the process in more detail can be found online.