In an online meeting held April 24, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Bryan Logan gave an update on what is happening on post during the COVID-19.
Three things stood out during the event, organized by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and held on the application Zoom.
First, all permanent change of station moves for individual soldiers and their families have been halted after the Army issued a stop movement order in March. He said the order is in place until June 30.
Second, the Army is dealing with COVID-19 in much the same way as those in the civilian world, with some differences. And third, training hasn't stopped.
Logan said the Army does not fall under executive orders issued by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, since Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are federal installations.
“And the reason why is No. 1, we have to maintain our mission of readiness as the nation’s first responders. We are still deploying soldier around Afghanistan and Kuwait and around the world in support of current combat operations,” Logan said. “That mission has not decreased. In fact, we have several National Guard Units that have come to Fort Stewart here in the last month that are preparing for their deployment overseas in the next 30 days.”
Logan added that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Combat Team Brigade is going back out into the field on post for more training.
“You’ll be hearing the big guns starting to shoot and the live operations starting back in the next seven days,” he said. “They will continue their preparations for their deployment this Fall.”
Logan said the Army is operating under a General Order No. 1, which has many of the same elements as Kemp’s order and CDC guidelines.
“Our restaurants much like yours are, take-out only and we do not plan on opening that up,” Logan said. “We will re-address that after the first week in May. All our recreational programs have been closed. All nonessential stores are closed as well. Now we are looking at opening our barber shop here next week. We are placing acrylic shield between the chairs. Our commissary and PX remain open but they require hand washing and wearing masks prior to entering those. That is mandatory and we are looking to do the same for our barber shop.”
Logan said Fort Stewart has minimized the amount of traffic coming on post. Passes are only being issued for family support or childcare and only certain approved food deliveries and parcel deliveries.
As for the number of those on Fort Stewart who may have COVID-19, Logan said the Army is reporting those numbers to the state but otherwise keeping that information confidential.
“We are no longer allowed to comment on Army COVID cases,” Logan said. “We report those numbers to the Georgia Public Health Department. If you ever look at their website you will see that there is no separate identification for military installations. Those numbers are wrapped up into the counties. The other reason and the most important is that we are protective of our statuses. Equipment status, personnel status, those are things we don’t want the bad guys to know about. We don’t want that to get out in the news. We see that as classified information.”
As for interaction between soldiers and civilian businesses, Logan said everyone should be following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, and soldiers should be following the protocols as outlined in General Order #1.
“The commanding General has specific authority in which he can enforce on active duty service members,” the colonel said. “Failure to comply by those orders can result in punishment…restriction of duty, loss of pay, loss of rank and in some circumstances jail time. In General Order No. 1 our soldiers are not authorized to travel outside a 50-mile radius.”
Under the order, which will remain in effect through May, barber shops, dine-in restaurants and bars are all off limits to soldiers.
Logan added that unless a solider lives in Savannah they are only allowed to travel to Savannah for essentials such as car repairs and groceries. He said soldiers are encouraged to wear masks and must wear mask when they enter post facilities like the commissary.
Logan said that information is being posted to social media on Facebook. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, garrison representatives are doing a live stream to keep everyone up to date.
Monday and Friday the live stream is at 2 p.m. On Wednesday it is at 6 p.m.
To keep up with the information visit: https://www.facebook.com/FortStewartHunterArmyAirfield/