The top Marine sent a letter to all Marine commanders and senior enlisted in the Corps directing them to gather information about the virus and take the critical actions needed to prevent its spread.
“As the Nation’s naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, the Marine Corps has a special responsibility to adapt and overcome, no matter the circumstances,” Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in the letter, dated March 12.
The commandant described the current status of the pandemic as the “movement to contact” phase, where Marines should be preparing to take on the challenges that the coronavirus will pose to them.
“Information is coming in from myriad sources; guidance continues to develop; and directives cannot account for every potential circumstance,” the letter said. “As such, we’ll want to make contact with limited forces, preserve decision space and combat power and retain our ability to react to rapidly changing circumstance."
The letter instructs commanders on the ground to make force preservation and risk mitigation decisions based on new information.
As of Monday, the Marine reserves is no longer conducting monthly drills for non-essential personnel in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Navy postponed its mid March drills for reserve units after a Maine-based reservist tested positive with coronavirus, Navy Times previously reported.
The Marine Corps also has temporarily barred the public from attending boot camp graduations, while the Department of Defense has banned all travel for personnel and their family during the pandemic.
So far at least three Marines have tested positive for the virus ― one in Virginia and one at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California and a third is under observation in Camp Pendleton, California, and a Marine dependent has tested positive for the disease aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“Expect additional guidance over the next days and weeks; this situation will take some time to resolve" Berger said in the letter.
“Until it does, take decisive action to protect the force while continuing the mission of the Corps,” he added. “We must remain always ready to respond when the Nation calls on her Corps of Marines.”