Thursday, March 26, 2020
Marines, Sailors, Civilians, Contractors, and Family Members
I am writing to provide an update on the evolving COVID-19 situation. Initially, thank you for all of your hard work and professionalism to date. Your actions help to keep our forces safe and allow us to continue to carry out our critical missions. I wish to thank everyone for their diligent work in retrograding the multiple Marines out of Africa, as well as retrograding the main body of the Cold Response exercise force out of Norway. Bravo Zulu. I also want to reiterate to you my number one priority is the health of the force. On that front, we remain strong.
Earlier this week the Chairman of the Joint Staff issued two directives to the force. (1) a stop movement order for all DoD uniformed and civilian personnel and their sponsored family members for 60 days; and (2) a shift to a minimum of Health Protection Condition Level CHARLIE (HPCON C). The stop movement order will impact all Relief in Place activities and the Transfers of Authority of our allocated forces until the stop movement is lifted. It will also have impacts on PCS moves. I encourage you to work with your chain of command to identify and address issues that may arise from these orders, and raise issues to my staff as needed.
For our allocated forces, SPMAGTF-CR-AF, MRF-E, and GDP, you have my continued gratitude for your commitment to the mission in these dynamic and challenging times. I appreciate you leaning into available training opportunities to make sure we remain appropriately postured and ready. Our support to the mission is enduring. We must maintain a readiness mindset in that we may be called to action on short notice. I am aware of the strain that certain policies have put on the quality of life. The policies are well intended and meant to ensure the continued health of the force. Your leadership as well as the staff here at Marine Forces Europe and Africa are working hard to find solutions to ensure that you can receive mail and hygiene items, and are otherwise taking steps to keep morale high.
For those of you that reside in Germany, would like to comment upon a few updates to German policies since my last letter. All gatherings in public places of more than two people are prohibited. This will be strictly enforced and penalized with fines up to 25,000 EUR and/or imprisonment. Of course, families or people who live together can continue to gather and go out in public, but social interactions are prohibited. Military personnel and those with SOFA status are still able to enter Germany, but if there is not an immediate need to join a service member or family in the EU, it is encouraged that family members should not travel at this time. Dependents should carry the following: Service member's orders, SOFA stamp, passport, CAC/ID, and printout of NOTAM B0289/20. For everyone else stationed in the EUCOM or AFRICOM AOR outside of Germany, it is imperative that you continue to monitor and follow the travel and health restrictions emplaced by the country you reside in. Ensure that you work with your chain of command to stay informed as policies continue to change rapidly. USAG-Stuttgart COVlD-19 updates can be found here: https://home.army.mil/stuttgart/index.php/Directorates-Support/public-affairs/coronavirus-covid-19.
In an additional step to protect the health of the force I recently signed a memorandum entitled "Command Guidance for Force Health Protection and Coronavirus Disease 2019." Amongst other things it clearly states that those in quarantine or isolation must remain in their quarters for 14 days, subject to limited exceptions (medical appointments; walking a pet; bona fide emergencies). These restrictions are enacted, when necessary, to protect the well being of all. I understand the stress that current policies and restrictions place upon you and your families. I appreciate the work that you have done and the sacrifices all have made to support our Corps. These are unique and trying times that we, collectively, will get through. Please continue to support one another. My staff stands ready to assist you in any way possible. Feel free to reach out to our Cross Functional Team with questions or concerns at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued patience and perseverance.
Thank you and Semper Fidelis,
MajGen Patrick J. Hermesmann, USMC
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe/Africa