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Pentagon Extends Military Travel Ban Until June 30 Due to COVID-19; Matthew Donovan, Mark Esper Quoted

Mark Esper
Mark Esper

The Pentagon announced an extension of its ban on most military and domestic travel, including permanent change of station moves from May 11 to June 30 as COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the nation, the Pentagon reported on Saturday. The order will take effect on April 20.

“Understanding we are approaching our major permanent change of station season, the department will actively provide support options to assist our people,“ said Matthew Donovan, undersecretary for personnel and readiness. “The new guidance … allows travelers who are in the middle of temporary duty travel or permanent change of station moves to continue on to their home stations or new duty stations. It also exempts travel for medical reasons.“

Donovan noted that there will be increased flexibility for exemptions in the new order as the military enters its busy summer PCS season. He added that military deployments and redeployments, largely halted in the initial stop-movement order that took effect March 13, will now move forward on a case-by-case basis, pending the discretion of relevant commanders.

Waivers will continue to be granted for travel deemed necessary because of personal hardship, humanitarian and mission-related reasons, and those who are pending retirement or military separation will be allowed to travel.

Donovan noted that the military services would be allowed to determine which moves should be given the highest priority. He added that PCS and travel waivers were being granted regularly under the standing guidance and the U.S. Transportation Command has noted that military moves are taking place at about 30 percent of the typical rate.

The order could be further extended past June 30 if conditions change. Mark Esper, U.S. secretary of defense and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient noted that the department will formally review the travel ban every 15 days in conjunction with White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and make a determination.

Esper's memo noted that all military installations and the Department of Defense agencies had to defer all but mission-essential travel. Exceptions would have to be approved by a general or flag officer, or a member of the senior executive service.

“These exceptions are to be done on a case by case basis, shall be limited in number, and shall be coordinated between the gaining and losing organizations,“ Esper stated. “Individuals pending retirement or separation within the next 60 days are exempt.“

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Written by Sarah Sybert

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