By Brig. Gen. Milford H. "Beags" Beagle Jr. Fort Jackson Commanding General
LDRSHIP. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honesty, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Separately, each of these words have meaning, but together they are foundational, essential elements of the inherent trust associated to Soldiers.The Army Values are simple at first glance, not complicated to understand, and serve as an easily understood pneumonic that codifies individual and team consistency; consistency that enables the inherent trust exchange required for individuals, teams, and units to achieve success in the most dire of circumstances, armed conflict.
The enemy we face in a pandemic, as I have outlined many times before, is an insidious and ruthless virus — COVID-19. The virus cares not about age, gender, race, religion, national origin, rank, or station in life. In fact, the virus—our enemy, thrives and spreads because human beings are social creatures, opportunistically preying on our fallible nature and propensity to fail as a matter of ignorance or arrogance. I want to take a moment to recalibrate Team Jackson so that we are each and all able to protect others and ourselves now, over the course of the next eight weeks, and going forward. Factual information and education are our armaments to triumph over ignorance.
I expect people will gather over the holidays. In fact, we are planning for Victory Block Leave, accounting for this inevitability, and implementing controls for the training population and those most closely associated with them. Despite the best advice and recommendations otherwise, each of these gatherings of individuals will include one “someone” who is either unfortunately ignorant or willfully arrogant to the public health measures that must be adhered to that are proven to protect self and others from COVID-19 infection. Accept this fact … there are no safe spaces or safe gatherings free from the threat of COVID. Practice public health hygiene despite the pressures to do otherwise. It is your Duty, responsibility, Respect for self and others, and Personal Courage that will be factors in thwarting the threat. Do not let misplaced or false Loyalty to influence you otherwise. Encourage others to do the same and reduce the opportunities for ignorance in the face of facts.
Nevertheless, there will still be the enemy’s enabler of arrogance furtively harboring in our midst. This is where I am asking Team Jackson to exercise Honesty and, more importantly, Integrity, in the time of COVID. For our workforce and military members, exercising Integrity requires each individual who finds himself or herself potentially exposed to COVID-19 to promptly acknowledge the risk to themselves and others. Immediately informing social and professional circles of the exposure is a responsibility that also requires the immediate action of isolation, seeking medical advice and care, and simultaneously ceasing social and professional interaction with others. Protecting the Force – You are part of the FORCE! – protects the MISSION.
Even though you, and all of those in your social and professional circles, exercise every precaution and countermeasure to defeat COVID-19, the virus may still get through those active defenses. There is no need for embarrassment or feeling ashamed for being exposed and/or contracting COVID … it is a virus and it is relentless in moving from person to person. Commit to having the Personal Courage to do the right thing by seeking medical assistance (Moncrief Army Health Clinic COVID Public Health Nurse: (803) 351-6394) and exercise Integrity by reporting to leaders and supervisors who are each, genuinely concerned about individual, team, and community welfare.
In closing, I will ask that you exercise the tenants of the Army Values with the WILL—which is a determination to do the right thing despite contrary conditions of behaviors of others—to help all of Team Jackson to defeat the continuous and preventable spread of a simple virus. COVID-19 has wreaked so much havoc on our community, our nation, and our world. To coin an old three-word phrase from the old Army: BE the example of correct behavior and protocols, KNOW when and where the vulnerabilities exist, and DO the right thing immediately if and when the danger affects you and others.