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Coping with Covid-19: Army training during the pandemic

Captain Jonathan Argyle, observer-coach-trainer with the US Army's Mission Command Training Program, speaks with a Japanese service member and interpreter to co-ordinate training during Yama Sakura, a joint bilateral military exercise with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force that was held in December 2021. (US Department of Defense)

Strict lockdowns and travel bans intended at halting or at least slowing down the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic have altered how armies train soldiers and conduct international exercises during the past two years. An increased reliance on measures like video teleconferencing and virtual learning is now part of the military training fabric and will likely linger in the coming years.

Although increased vaccination rates are prompting countries to move towards return to ‘normality' in many settings, the virus remains a threat both to wider populations and armies specifically. It may be too soon to assess the full impact of the pandemic in military terms or its lessons for the future.

However, such issues are a growing focus area. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US-based think-tank, oversees an ongoing project looking at the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country's military. Mark Cancian, senior adviser in the CSIS International Security Program, said the armed forces adapted relatively quickly even though basic training was paused for about two weeks while a range of protocols were put in place.

“They had to do that, because you can't just take a pause on the global scene,” he told Janes . “Events keep moving along.”

Enduring changes

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