Moving out: Fort Leonard Wood shipping trained Soldiers while mitigating health risks
By Brian HillJune 8, 2020
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood’s primary mission of providing initial entry and advanced individual training to turn civilians into Soldiers continues with enhanced COVID-19 risk-mitigation measures.Since introducing the two-plus-eight modified Basic Combat Training here, nearly 2,000 of the Army’s newest Soldiers have moved on to either AIT on another installation or their first unit of assignment at nearly 30 locations around the world.“This is fantastic work by so many of our teammates,” said Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, at a recent virtual town hall. “The logistics readiness center, along with training units and staff here and on the gaining ends are doing tremendous work. Successful movement increases readiness for units around the world.”Just like with the modifications to BCT, the ability to safely move Soldiers from one installation to another has required some tweaks to normal movement operations.In the recent past, commercial travel options were utilized – to include flights leaving St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. However, in an effort to maintain social distancing and enhanced sanitation measures, government-chartered aircraft and buses were also used.According to Lt. Col. William Earl, MSCoE operations, plans and training deputy and officer in charge of the movement cell, this allows the Army to “maintain the bubble” while getting Soldiers where they need to be.Earl added that overseas assignment moves are worked closely with each Army Service Component Command and U.S. Transportation Command, a Department of Defense-level unified command headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.“This really drives home the point that every Soldier we train, graduate and ship matters,” he said.In addition to social distancing and greater disinfectant procedures, each Soldier leaving Fort Leonard Wood is screened for COVID-19 symptoms.Capt. Daniel Alberts, Company B, 43rd Adjutant General Battalion (Reception), commander, said personnel from General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital perform temperature checks two hours prior to departure.“A memorandum for record is completed annotating the Soldier’s temperature,” he said. “That memo will travel with them and upon arrival to their destination, (they) will be temperature checked again. If, at any point the Soldier’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees, the Soldier will not be allowed to travel and will be sent to the quarantine barracks for two weeks. If, upon arrival to their destination, a Soldier has a temperature of 100.4 or above, they will be placed in quarantine at their new duty station.”Additionally, Alberts said escort cadre and bus drivers are also checked for a temperature above 100.4. Protective masks and social distancing are maintained throughout the whole process, and once a movement is complete, the staging area is sanitized and prepared for the next movement.“Under these measures, Soldiers (are) successfully shipping to their follow-on duty station,” he said.Alberts added that of those successfully shipped so far, there have been zero issues.“Fort Leonard Wood’s successful implementation of safety and risk-mitigation measures for all movements are critical for the protection of our force,” Earl said.