Fort Carson leaders easily pass physical test for new recruits

Sgt. Maj. Will Yarbray takes the new Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test by performing a standing long jump at the Waller Physical Fitness Center in 2017. Fort Carson CSMs took the test to experience what new soldiers go through during the recruitment process. The U.S. Army began administering the OPAT on January 3 to all new recruits before they ship to basic training. The OPAT, along with the current requirements for enlistment, will help the Army assess the person to determine which occupations are best suited for them. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Company-sized morning physical fitness formations are among the likely coronavirus casualties as Pikes Peak region military bases increase precautions.

Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson announced facility closures and a ban on large gatherings as they work to slow the spread of the virus.

"The health protection of our force is a top priority, and we will continue to ensure that our personnel have the most up-to-date information on appropriate measures to prevent potential spread of the virus," Fort Carson officials said in a statement.

Pentagon freezes troop travel to slow coronavirus spread

The post has put a halt to most gatherings of more than 50 people. That means physical training formations where Fort Carson units gather in company strength before dawn to work out are probably off. Army companies generally have between 100 and 150 soldiers, depending on the unit.

Libraries and other gathering places at Peterson and Fort Carson will be shuttered during the crisis and the bases are moving to take-out food for troops.

"Base officials have also communicated additional social distancing measures with unit leadership to limit communicable spread," Peterson officials said.

Over the weekend the Pentagon halted travel for troops and civilian workers except in emergencies. The Air Force Academy had already sent most cadets home for spring break.

Seniors at the academy are still hitting the books.

"This action is to maximize the chances of graduating our senior class on time for our Air and Space Forces, while ensuring the best possible care for the entire base populace," the school's superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, said in a statement.

Military bases face challenges that civilian workplaces don't as employers move to telecommuting during the crisis. At Peterson, Schriever Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, working from home isn't an option for most troops. Missile warning and space functions largely take place in secure facilities where government computers are used to process top-secret data. That means troops who handle the classified systems need to work on-base and so do the security forces, maintenance troops and others who keep the facilities running. To slow the spread of the virus, bases are treating the disease in the same way they treat Colorado snow storms. They are limiting staffing to essential troops and using shifting to create social separation. "The bases are also ordering troops to use common sense. "We ask that all of our personnel proactively protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including practicing good hand washing, social distancing, avoid hand shaking, wiping down commonly-used surfaces, and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick now," Fort Carson stated.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

Load comments