What to Watch
60 MINUTES to feature How is the (American) military handling the coronavirus pandemic?
For military buffs who may be interested in how other militaries are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunday night 60 MINUTES is featuring the segment “How is the military handling the coronavirus pandemic?”
The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the U.S. military readiness to fight, forcing it to cope with a new and potent enemy. The Army was forced to suspend taking in new recruits until it overhauled basic training, major exercises were cancelled and a front-line aircraft carrier was sidelined.
The Pentagon had plans for combating a pandemic but Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the commander of the military response to coronavirus, told 60 MINUTES, “This plan did not survive contact with the enemy.”
David Martin brought 60 MINUTES cameras to witness the military’s war on coronavirus for a story to be broadcast Sun., April 26 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Martin went to basic army training at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina, where last month, 64 recruits among 940 tested positive for COVID-19.
He saw face-masked soldiers struggling to stay apart.
“Day to day our biggest problem is keeping them in that six feet,” says Lt. Col. Patrick Collins. “You tend to tell them, ‘O.K. separate. Get your six feet.’ Couple minutes later, they start clustering again.”
For two weeks, the American Army had to stop taking in new recruits because of the virus.
“I’m not aware of any time – at least, you know, in my 39 years where we stopped taking recruits. But these are different times,” says Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.
“The toughest decision that we had to make was to cancel Defender 20,” says Gen. McConville.
The Army was already sending the necessary tanks to Europe six weeks ago for Defender 20, one of the largest exercises since the Cold War.
“What would happen if we had 15,000 or 20,000 in a very close environment and…the virus broke out? How would we take care of them?” says Gen. McConville.
Nearly 800 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the virus, but more than half of them had no symptoms.
“We had so many assumptions of what a virus would do,” Gen. Hyten tells Martin,“and then when you actually see what coronavirus does, what Covid-19 does, it’s completely different.”
“Having an enemy that you don’t fully understand is always a little bit frustrating,” said Gen. O’Shaughnessy.