This is going to become a problem for the Pentagon, whether it’s on Navy destroyers, submarines, and aircraft carriers or the 800+ bases.
“The Space Command will be one more operation trying to get in line while we don’t have masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, ICUs, or even tests.”
The Pentagon has ordered all its commands, bases, and personnel to stop reporting statistics on COVID-19 infections and deaths in the US military, citing “operational security concerns.”
EUCOMM in Stuttgart, Germany, released a statement that “DoD will release numbers through their official platforms.” This comes after:
- Infections in the military increased by 60% during the week of March 22 to 28, surpassing the rate of increase in the general US population.
- NATO war games on European/Russian borders were canceled because Germany and Norway pulled out for fear of spreading COVID-19.
- The Pentagon announced a 60-day freeze on all overseas troop movements.
- Th irty-six sailors on the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now docked in Guam, tested positive for the virus in the South Pacific.
- Navy officials said they expect the number of infections to grow as they continue to test the 5000 sailors on board.
- The US Marine Corps stopped accepting new recruits at its Pa r ris Island , South Carolina, boot camp.
- The USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to treat non-COVID-19 patients so that local medical staff could focus on COVID-19 patients and shore-based hospitals could free up their ICUs and ventilators.
- The USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles for the same purpose.
- The Veterans Administration said it was “ready for coronavirus” as it asked staff at its Miami Hospital to reuse one protective mask for a week at a time.
- Already overwhelmed Veterans Administration hospitals were ordered to begin caring for the general population as well as veterans.
These are just some examples of how COVID-19 is reverberating across US forces, and military and VA hospitals. Meanwhile, the US, with a population of 327 million, has twice the infections of China, with a population of 1.386 billion. It has the highest number of infections in the world and, day after day, the highest number of new infections. That’s all according to WorldoMeter s on March 3 1 .
Also on March 31, it was reported that infections have risen from 36 to 100 on the previously mentioned nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and that the captain is pleading with US Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.
Last week I spoke to Bruce Gagnon, co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, about COVID-19 and NATO, and this week we spoke about developments in the US military since.
Ann Garrison: Bruce, what have you noted about the Pentagon’s response to COVID-19 since last week when Germany and Norway forced it to shut down the NATO war games—DEFENDER-Europe 20 and Cold Response—on European borders with Russia.
Bruce Gagnon: Well, I’ve been reading Stars and Stripes , a military publication whose audience is military personnel around the globe. And it’s fascinating to see the stories about a dramatic escalation of the virus at US bases in, for example, Italy and Germany. There was an article that really moved me about soldiers stuck in Kuwait. Several hundred of them were sent there temporarily, but now they’re stuck there and one of them has a wife and newborn baby back home. They’re of course being told to stay home and self-isolate, and this GI is really worried about his family. So you can just imagine that it’s not gonna take too long for these GIs who are worried about their families to start clamoring to come home. They’re also terrified about their own condition being stuck in some place around the world at some base where the virus is spreading and there’s been no preparation to respond. This is going to be a real problem for the Pentagon.
I was watching a video of a colonel who was trying to reassure the troops on his base in Vicenza, Italy, that everything was going to be all right. And there were comments in the scroll bar next to it. I was reading them, and GIs were saying they wanted to go home, wanted to get the hell out of there.
So this is going to become a problem for the Pentagon, whether it’s on these Navy destroyers, submarines, and aircraft carriers or these 800+ bases. It’s going to get worse, and I don’t think they’re going to have enough equipment to handle it. It’s a real, real bad situation.
AG: Especially for the Navy.
BG: Yeah, you know how cramped the living quarters on those ships are. There’s not much you can do about that on, for example, a submarine, a destroyer, or an aircraft carrier. I was never in the Navy. I was in the Air Force, but I’ve seen a lot of pictures over the years of the way people live on ships, and there isn’t much room. That’s going to become a real problem if the virus begins to spread rapidly.
So what’s the alternative? You go into some port of call and pretty soon it’s going to be like the cruise ships, the local people don’t want you coming into their country. Are they really going to want all those sailors getting off those ships? Where are they going to go stay? In a local hotel? Oh my God.
AG: There was also news that the Space Command has been shut down.
BG: Yeah, a main part of that report was about one of the people who was going to be sworn in as a high-level officer. He couldn’t reach the top commander’s location to be sworn in.
But beyond that, it’s a money thing. They really wanted to pump $15 billion or more initially into Space Force, but right now they’ve got serious problems about money because there are so many demands on the federal budget. There’s just no money for it. The Space Command will be one more operation trying to get in line while we don’t have masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, ICUs, or even tests. The Pentagon can’t even afford to build the new submarines or new aircraft carriers that they say they want. So they can’t put the new generation of nuclear missiles on the new nuclear submarines because they can’t build them.
“The Pentagon can’t even afford to build the new submarines or new aircraft carriers that they say they want.”
Here in Maine where we have the General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works Shipyard, they have these Zumwalt destroyers that have already cost $7 billion each. The destroyers that preceded them cost $1.5 billion, but then they built three of these Zumwalt stealth destroyers for $7 billion each. And now they can’t afford to buy the ammunition for the high-tech gun systems that they’d planned for the ship because they’re too costly. According to Defense News, the fancy gun rounds cost $800,000—or more—each, making the rounds prohibitively expensive. So they’ve built $7 billion destroyers with no ammunition on them.
The whole operation is unsustainable. The whole system is unsustainable, and it’s all about corruption. It’s about corruption and corporate profits, and none of it makes any sense.
Obama forced these three $7 billion Zumwalt destroyers on the Navy, which didn’t even want them. Why’d he do that? Well, as it turns out, the largest stockholders in General Dynamics are the Crown family in Chicago who, back when Obama was in the Illinois State Senate, fell in love with him and decided they wanted to make him President. So they funded his campaigns and ran interference for him within the national Zionist community and the military industrial complex. When Obama first ran for president, he got more donations from the military industrial complex than John McCain, the openly extreme warhawk. It’s pretty clear that he owed the Crown family a lot for making him president. And his reward to them was these three Zumwalt destroyers.
“The whole system is unsustainable, and it’s all about corruption. It’s about corruption and corporate profits.”
This is the game that’s played today. None of it makes a damn bit of sense. None of it has anything to do with real needs whatsoever. And this pandemic is bringing it all out in the open, all around us. There was no money for the masks, gloves, ventilators, ICUs, hospitals, and everything needed to prepare for a pandemic like this, but we spent $21 billion on three Zumwalt destroyers and trillions more on all our other weapons of mass destruction.
I’m blown away by Cuba, little Cuba, sending doctors and supplies around the world to different countries, doing what it calls medical diplomacy. And the United States, so far as I know, hasn’t helped one country yet. But we’re begging South Korea to send us masks and ventilators and other equipment.
The whole US BS exceptionalism story is deflating in a big way right now all around the world.
AG: The US has always deployed the myth of American exceptionalism to justify its empire of bases, lethal weapons, and innumerable wars and “interventions.”
BG: Absolutely. And it’s being exposed. American exceptionalism has always been a Hollywood/Madison Avenue public relations scam, and now it’s like a bad movie being shown all over the world and getting terrible reviews.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the VictoireIngabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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