Fired skipper gets rousing sendoff; Military expands medical help; Army plans battalion-sized ‘safety bubbles’; Open Skies flights, visualized; And a bit more.
“Cap-tain Cro-zier!” Hours after the acting Navy secretary fired the commanding officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt for “poor judgement,” the skipper got a rousing sendoff from hundreds of sailors still aboard the COVID-striken aircraft carrier. Videos posted to social media show sailors packed into the hangar deck of the carrier, which has offloaded more than 1,000 of their shipmates into isolation accommodations on Guam. They applaud and chant as Capt. Brett Crozier walks down the brow alone and onto the darkened pier.
On Thursday, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of command, saying that the captain used “extremely poor judgement in the midst of a crisis” by sending a four-page letter asking for urgent help to more than 30 Navy leaders in and outside of his command.
Modly said Crozier sent his plea even though the Navy was already helping him find shore accommodations on Guam. “And that’s what’s frustrating about it: it created the perception that the Navy’s not on the job, and the government’s not on the job,” the acting secretary said at his late-afternoon press conference.
114 Roosevelt sailors have tested positive for COVID-19, a number that is expected ultimately to rise “into the hundreds,” Modly said. Read on, here.
Some Guam locals and leaders are worried. "I am disturbed by the reckless double-standard of potentially placing potentially exposed military personnel in local hotels," writes local Senator Sabina Flores Perez in a letter to Guam Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero.
Terms of quarantine: The U.S. military’s top officer on Guam, Rear Adm. John Menoni, told reporters on Thursday that the Roosevelt sailors “must remain in quarantine in their assigned rooms for the duration of the mandatory 14-day quarantine...Military leadership will be present throughout to make sure sailors adhere to quarantine and remain in their rooms. This will be entirely a military-run operation with no direct contact between the TR sailors and their hotel staffs.”
There were 82 known cases among Guam’s roughly 170,000 people on Thursday, NPR reports, here.
Reports: U.S. freezes exports of protective gear. CNN: “The Trump administration will no longer ship personal protective equipment to allies overseas as the United States grapples with critical shortages of supplies and coronavirus cases continue to soar.” CNN cites a congressional source, who said Congress was told about the freeze a week ago. Politico first reported the freeze on Wednesday.
Got a 3D printer? You can download designs for protective gear from the National Institutes of Health. Much more natsec & coronavirus news below the fold…
From Defense One
Aircraft Carrier Captain Fired For ‘Poor Judgement’ In Sending Coronavirus Letter // Kevin Baron and Bradley Peniston: Acting Secretary Modly’s Thursday decision to sack the skipper of Theodore Roosevelt was quickly criticized as retaliation for embarrassing Navy leaders.
Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Business unusual; Boeing’s latest tanker woes; Raytheon-UTC merger to close; and more.
Exclusive: US Army Wants To Train Hundreds of Soldiers in Coronavirus ‘Safety Bubbles’ // Katie Bo Williams: Entire companies and battalions could be isolated in the field for a month, Secretary McCarthy said in an interview.
US Navy Speeds Weapon Buys To Keep Small Suppliers Afloat Amid Coronavirus // Marcus Weisgerber: The service has already accelerated deals for anti-air missiles and submarine-hunting planes.
Let Them Work From Home // Susanna V. Blume: The coronavirus is the push the Pentagon needs to become a 21st century workplace.
The COVID-19 Models Probably Don't Say What You Think They Say // Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic: If they accurately predict the future, we've done something wrong.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1933, the USS Akron, one of the Navy’s two flying aircraft carriers, crashed at sea during a storm, killing 73 of the 76 aboard the rigid airship.
The U.S. military is expanding medical assistance in New York, Louisiana and Dallas. The new effort involves "medical support to include COVID-19 positive patients at the Javits Federal Medical Station (FMS) in New York City, the Morial FMS in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Kay Bailey Hutchinson FMS in Dallas, Texas," the Defense Department announced this morning, adding all the efforts were requested by FEMA.
The idea behind the expansion: To “unburden the local hospital and ambulance systems in these areas, allowing them to focus on the more serious COVID-19 cases.” What’s more, “This decision was risk-informed and made to ensure that DoD can continue to provide these local communities the type of medical care they most need.”
Admittance changes: “Additionally, screening for care on the USNS Comfort will be modified and will now occur pier-side in an effort to reduce the backlog at some of the nearby New York hospitals,” the Pentagon said in its announcement. “The screening effort for the USNS Comfort will no longer require a negative test, but each patient will still be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire.”
POTUS45 continues to say unhelpfully false and misleading things about the pandemic. The United States has always trailed several countries in COVID tests per capita, including South Korea and Germany, where mass testing has been part of an effective response to the virus. But Trump once again falsely claimed that the U.S. is leading per capita, NPR reports.
U.S. plane and train passengers are not being tested for COVID, CNN reports; it is not clear why Trump said on Thursday that they are.
The dominant trend for American leadership: “Trump sows uncertainty and seeks to cast blame in coronavirus crisis,” the Washington Post reports, rolling up the three weeks since POTUS declared a national emergency over COVID-19.
Way back in early February, the U.S. Army warned (slide here) that the coronavirus could kill 150,000 Americans, The Daily Beast reported Thursday. In short, “An unclassified briefing document on the novel coronavirus prepared on Feb. 3 by U.S. Army-North projected that ‘between 80,000 and 150,000 could die.’ It framed the projection as a ‘Black Swan’ analysis, meaning an outlier event of extreme consequence but often understood as an unlikely one.” Read on, here.
Learn how the White House’s National Security Council gradually came to terms with the coronavirus in this Politico feature (that’s mostly about Trump’s deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger) published Thursday evening.
Guns out in Manila. Philippine President Duterte warned lockdown violators could be shot. Said Duterte in a Wednesday evening televised address to the country: “My orders to the police and military ... if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead. Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you.” More at Reuters.
Russia has ordered most people to stop working for the duration of April as part of its effort to contain the spread of the virus. The Associated Press has that story from Moscow, here.
Review over 190 countries’ economic responses to the various coronavirus-led disruptions in this report Thursday from Quartz.
Bonus trivia: 72 years ago today, President Truman signed the Economic Cooperation Act (aka the “Marshall Plan”) to rebuild 16 countries across Western Europe after the devastation of WWII.
How is the pandemic affecting America’s food supply? Reuters reports today there is some good news: "Food firms say panic purchasing is subsiding as households have stocked up and are adjusting to lockdown routines."
The not-great news: "The logistics to get food from the field to the plate, however, are being increasingly affected and point to longer-term problems." As well, "there are signs [China] is scooping up foreign agricultural supplies as it emerges from its coronavirus shutdown and rebuilds its massive pork industry after a devastating pig disease epidemic." Read on, here.
If Congress was in the game of granting wishes, the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command has a big one: Turn Guam into a well-armed garrison at a cost of $1.6 billion. Defense News obtained a copy of INDO-PACOM’s $20 billion wish list (spread over six years) recently sent to Congress, and it’s part of a reportedly new strategy referred to as “Regain the Advantage.”
The idea is “to persuade potential adversaries that any preemptive military action will be extremely costly and likely fail by projecting credible combat power at the time of crisis, and provides the President and Secretary of Defense with several flexible deterrent options to include full OPLAN [operation plan] execution, if it becomes necessary,” Adm. Phil Davidson of INDO-PACOM writes of the plan. Much more to all that, here.
Also: The U.S. Navy is buying three MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling tankers from Boeing for about $85 million. Recall that "In 2018, Boeing beat Lockheed Martin and General Atomics to land the $805 million contract to build the first four MQ-25As," U.S. Naval Institute News reported Thursday off a Pentagon contract announcement.
Don’t expect revolution in Iran from the coronavirus, warns Kenneth Pollack of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in Foreign Policy this week.
One big reason: “There has never been a successful revolution in Iran without mass demonstrations. The spread and fear of COVID-19 have effectively eliminated the potential for large-scale protests.” Read on, here.
Apropos of nothing: Get a better picture of the Open Skies Treaty in a robust data-visualization project from Alexander Graef and Alexander Graef of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg in Germany.
One curious takeaway (emphasis preserved): “the Open Skies treaty, despite its 34 member states, consists of two camps: NATO members on the one hand, and Russia-Belarus plus some non-aligned states on the other. Moreover, European member states conduct most overflights. Thus, even if the United States left the treaty, Europe could still derive benefits from overflying Russia-Belarus.” Read on, here.
And finally this week: Like the new James Bond movie, the “Top Gun” sequel won’t be coming out in the summer — and is now slated for a Winter release, The Aviationist reported Thursday. The Tom Cruise flick was planned for a June 24 release in North America; now it’s looking at a Dec. 23 date, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Also postponed: A film called “The Tomorrow War,” starring Chris Pratt; “Mulan”; a new movie in the “Fast and Furious” franchise — and quite a few more rolled up here.