The Marine reserves will no longer conduct monthly drills for non-essential personnel in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep the force healthy, according Marine officials.
“For more than 100 years Reserve Marines have gone in harm’s way against our nation’s threats,” Lt. Gen. David Bellon, commander of Marine Forces Reserve, said in a statement released to the Reserve’s Facebook page.
“We overcome obstacles and we win battles,” he said, “Our latest challenge with COVID-19 will be no different.”
The statement announced that all travel not considered “mission-essential” will be canceled along with any drills, training and community relations events that expose sailors and Marines in the reserves to public gatherings.
Bellon said that even though Marines will not be attending their drill during the crisis, they are still expected to maintain their physical fitness and be ready to deploy when needed.
“We are essential to the nation’s naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, and we will continue to be regardless of this current challenge” the commander said in the statement.
A source familiar with the pause told Marine Corps Times on condition of anonymity that drills will be canceled at least through April.
The statement authorizes Marine leadership in the reserves from “from commanding generals to enlisted leadership” to take steps they feel are necessary to maintain the force while protecting their Marines.
The drill cancellations are just another change in a long line of cancellations implemented by the Marine Corps to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly disease.
Operation Cold Response, which sees Marines training in frigid Norway alongside the Norwegian military, was canceled earlier this month, along with multiple air shows and public graduations at Marine Corps boot camp.
The Navy postponed non-essential reserve drills the weekend before in the hopes of slowing down the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least three Marines have tested positive for the virus: One in Virginia, one at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, and a third is under observation in Camp Pendleton, California. A Marine dependent has tested positive for the disease aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“Our nation is now facing a great challenge,” Bellon said.
“The Marine Corps will get through this just as we have over the past 245 years: with strong leadership, resilient Marines, and disciplined service,” he said.