Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:18
Pentagon Rewriting Pandemic Playbook After Study Faults COVID-19 Response
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Pentagon is in the early stages of rewriting its pandemic playbook after an internal review found failings in the department's initial response to COVID-19, according to defense officials and documents viewed by POLITICO.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff is revising the plans, last updated by US Northern Command in 2013, and is building on “lessons learned” from the COVID-19 response, Spokesperson Cmdr. Hayley Sims stated.

“The US military is always planning for the future to ensure our military remains capable of protecting Americans as well as our allies and partners around the globe,” Sims said, adding, “The plan will improve the Joint Force's response to future disease outbreaks of any kind while simultaneously implementing the National Defense Strategy."

The new plan will draw on findings from the Joint Staff's “in-stride” review of the COVID-19 response, completed a few weeks ago and viewed by POLITICO, which detailed some of the military's shortcomings in responding to the pandemic and recommendations for future crises. The results of the study have not been previously reported.

In confronting COVID-19, the Pentagon failed to initially account for the “global nature” of a modern pandemic — how far and fast the virus would spread — and had difficulty distributing key medical supplies, the Joint Staff found.

The military has relied on Northern Command’s 2013 playbook, officially titled the “global campaign plan for pandemic influenza and infectious disease”, to guide its response to the coronavirus outbreak. The 2013 plan updated previous guidelines developed during the 2009 swine flu epidemic. The plan is separate from the National Security Council's 2016 guidelines, which POLITICO first reported in early March.

But the 2013 playbook left much to be desired.

“The pandemic response was a globally integrated operation”, according to the internal review. The existing plans "did not address the global" scope of the pandemic, or the responsibilities of the various military entities, including the Joint Chiefs, the combatant commands and the services, in carrying out the US domestic response.

The document recommended the Joint Staff redo the plan “to incorporate global integration insights and lessons learned on the military response to COVID-19".

Since the pandemic broke out across the nation this spring, the Pentagon has taken on responsibility for several aspects of the response, including vaccine research, setting up temporary hospitals in virus hot spots, and deploying the National Guard to help local authorities with managing test centers and other logistical tasks. But according to the Joint Staff’s review, a major problem was that the roles for these missions across DoD’s bureaucracy were not well-defined.

One challenge was finding and delivering medical supplies, according to defense officials and the documents. In the early days of the pandemic in March, DoD provided health officials with millions of masks and several thousand ventilators. The Defense Health Agency was initially tasked with coordinating the movement and allocation of these resources, the bulk of which belong to the Army.

But frictions soon emerged between DHA and the services, the review found. In response, the Joint Staff’s “J4” logistics directorate stood up a task force to bridge that gap, though the unit does not normally track these movements.

“Prioritization of materiel requirements was a significant challenge,” according to the documents.

Officials concluded that in future crises, the Joint Staff should take the lead in documenting the roles of medical and logistics communities for “managing, monitoring and reporting on specific medical supplies/equipment within an operations-centric viewpoint and lead”.

In other findings, the review concluded that the Pentagon also missed opportunities for improvement by failing to initiate a formal “in-stride” review process until late in the crisis. It urged the department to “take a deliberate breath” moving into future crises to assess and better understand the existing plans in place to help guide the response, and to provide for a joint “battle team” to provide accurate, relevant information to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“From day one of the federal response to COVID, [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper directed the tracking and compilation of lessons learned," said Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, adding, "Those observations are currently in their initial stages, and will be reviewed by offices throughout the department for thoroughness and accuracy before being briefed to leadership. Once it is finalized, we look forward to sharing the results.”

The internal review also announced coordination was further impaired by new social distance and work-from-home policies necessitated by the pandemic, according to the report, which recommended expanding access to telework.

The review also urged the Joint Staff not to lose sight of other global threats, including actions by China, Russia and Iran, during future pandemics in order to avoid being “surprised by tomorrow”.





Bottom top
South China Sea Drills Won’t Help Trump Win Re-election

TEHRAN (FNA)- China says the United States is flexing its military muscles in the South China Sea by conducting joint exercises with two aircraft carrier groups in the strategic waterway.
Iran ِDiscovers Deposit with 8 Tons of Gold Reserves

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran made a gold discovery in Sistan-Balouchestan province in the Southeastern part of the country where definite reserves of 8 tons of the precious metal have been found, provincial officials said.
Iran’s Mersad, Tabas Missile Systems Target Hypothetical Enemy Drones in Drills

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Air Defense Force and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force’s Mersad and Tabas missile systems attacked hypothetical enemy targets in joint drills on Wednesday.
Another Karabakh War Rocket Hits House at Iran’s Bordering Village

TEHRAN (FNA)- A rocket fired during clashes between the warring sides, Armenia and Azerbaijan, landed in a village house in the Northeastern bordering province of East Azarbaijan in Iran.
Karabakh Conflict: Diplomatic Efforts Underway as 2nd Truce Falls Apart

TEHRAN (FNA)- The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan arrived in Russia to discuss their countries’ dispute over the South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh, days before heading to Washington for separate meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as heavy fighting over the region is in its fourth week.
US Embassy Found Guilty of Deadly Attack against Residential Areas in Baghdad

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior commander of Hashd al-Shaabi (popular forces) said that the US embassy in Baghdad was behind the September attack against a house in the Iraqi capital which killed 5 civilians.
Rescue Officials: At Least Five Dead, 20 Wounded in Karachi Building Blast

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least five people have been killed and more than 20 wounded after an explosion in a residential building in the Southern Pakistani city of Karachi, rescue officials said.
Over 5,600 More People in Iran Infected with Coronavirus

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian health ministry announced on Wednesday that 5,616 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified across the country during the past 24 hours, adding that 312 patients have passed away during the same period.
UK Labour Accuses Johnson of 'Bargaining with People’s Lives' over Lockdown Support

TEHRAN (FNA)- Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “dividing communities” and pitting regions against each other in his approach to local lockdowns, arguing that areas put in the top level of coronavirus restrictions were likely to be stuck there for months.
Iranian FM Asks Arab Neighbors to Choose between Instability, Peace

TEHRAN (FNA)- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Iran’s neighbors in the Persian Gulf to cooperate in the establishment of peace and security in the region.
Report: Most Arrests During Protests in US Are Suburban Adults Not Extremists

TEHRAN (FNA)- Most people who were arrested during nationwide protests of racial injustice and police brutality were young suburban adults as opposed to the left-wing extremists groups that President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly targeted, an analysis from the Associated Press found.
FM Zarif: Iran Urging All States to Choose Peace, Security, Stability

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a Twitter message urged all the world countries to choose peace, security, and stability instead of remaining prisoners of the past.
NYPD to Increase Police Presence Days Before Presidential Election

TEHRAN (FNA)- The New York Police Department (NYPD) plans to increase police presence in the city in the eight days ahead of the 2020 election, officials announced on Tuesday.
IRGC, Army Destroy Aggressive Targets by Powerful Indigenous Air Defense Shields during Joint Drills

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces exercised destruction of hypothetical enemy targets in high and mid altitudes by the powerful home-made Third of Khordad and Khordad 15 air defense systems during the joint aerial wargames on Wednesday.
Breonna Taylor Grand Juror Claims Panel Was Not Given A Chance to Consider Homicide Charges Against US Cops

TEHRAN (FNA)- A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case came forward to claim that the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT's death.