1st Lt. Katherine Rhea, deputy chief of Army hearing at Moncrief Army Health Clinic, instructs a trainee with 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment in the proper way to insert an ear plug. Both Soldiers are wearing protective face coverings in accordance with Army and Fort Jackson policy to help contain COVID-19. Fort Jackson leaders announced April 28 the post would begin transitioning to ‘steady state’ operations. (Photo by Ms. Tori Evans)
By Robert Timmons Fort Jackson Public Affairs
Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan announced April 30 the installation’s plans to move toward “steady state” operations in near the future. There is no specific date set to reach this goal.
Steady state does not mean returning to normal, Beagle said.
“It’s a steady state; it’s different,” he said. “We may get to normal at some point, but this will be our bridge to get us headed back to normal at some point in time.”
The post uses the term steady state operations instead of reopening because “we never closed,” Beagle said. “We never stopped doing what we are doing. The Army and Fort Jackson never closed for business.”
There have been six graduations since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“In reality that’s 5,155 Soldiers who have completed basic training,” Gan added. They are not all here anymore as we “have shipped 3,355 to their (Advanced Individual Training) locations.”
“We were slowed, but we never stopped,” Beagle said. “We never stopped training. We have never stopped working. We just changed how we do our business.”
The return to steady state will be done under altered conditions to allow for training Soldiers at the normal scale; protect the entire work force; “and reduce the risk to the maximize extent possible” to the Fort Jackson community.
“Steady state is not normal,” Beagle said. “As Fort Jackson gets better at this steady state and we get further things implemented we will be able to reduce some of our measures without increasing risk to our population on Fort Jackson and in the community.”
Priority number one during the post’s response to COVID-19 has been to protect the force and the Fort Jackson community and it will remain so, Beagle and Gan said.
Beagle cautioned against thinking the process will be instantaneous – it will take time.
“It is not a light switch that we can turn on or off; nor a lever where we can throttle up or throttle back,” he said. “We want to gradually work our way from where we currently are back to where we were, but it will more than likely be an altered state.
Measures can be turned up and turned down depending on what is deemed necessary.
“Fort Jackson will take appropriate measures as needed,” Gan added.
Installation changes will only be made after meeting certain criteria. The Fort Jackson and Midlands communities will then have ample time to prepare for those changes.
We owe you “at least a 96-hour advanced notice of the changes we are going to make,” Beagle said.
Any return to normal “won’t be fast by any means, and it won’t be immediate,” Gan said. “How we get there is more important than when we get there. We have to be safe, and we have to do it the right way.”
The next Virtual Town Hall on Special Topics will be held at 3:30 p.m. May 7 on the Fort Jackson Commanding General’s Facebook page.