While the current effect of COVID-19 may seem minimal on U.S. armed forces in the perspective of infection rate, wartime capability and readiness may suffer in the long-term, says Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a recent Forbes article.

Planned military exercises are being cancelled across the globe as the virus spreads, as well as deployments being delayed. Cancian warns of coronavirus spreading on naval ships which often lack doctors, “Ships with sick crews will likely get sent home, like cruise liners with sick passengers, and possibly quarantined. That reduces U.S. global presence and the ability to respond to crises.”

Furthermore, the author warns of disease spread on U.S. installations where service members live and work in close proximity. Cancian draw an analogy between the influenza of 1918, which proliferated extensively on military bases.

Photo by U.S. Army // Amber I. Smith