Pentagon Cancels Joint Exercise with Israel Over Coronavirus

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. (Reuters/Amanda Voisard)

The Pentagon announced on Monday the cancellation of a joint military exercise with Israel known as “Eagle Genesis” due to concerns about spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement was made by Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the Pentagon.

The training operation was to involve Army paratroops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade stationed in Vicenza, Italy.

“In close coordination with the Israeli government and out of an abundance of caution in the face of the evolving situation with COVID-19, the decision has been made to cancel the exercise. We value our strong partnership with Israel and look forward to continuing training together in the future,” an official was quoted by CNN as saying.

“The United States military looks at a wide variety of scenarios,” Gen. said, adding that “pandemic is the worst case.”

“Of course we do all kinds of planning in the department of defense,” Milley told reporters, adding that the military labs are working on a vaccine. “With respect to the vaccine, yes, the military labs are working very consistently … working in direct support with health and human services.”

However, Milley told reporters Monday that the overall impact of coronavirus on the U.S. military has been “very minimal.”

“Overseas, we have a variety of exercise operations ongoing. Right now the overall broad impact to the uniformed U.S. military is very, very minimal. That’s not to say it’s zero, but it’s very, very minimal,” he said.

Last week, the Pentagon canceled a key joint military training exercise in South Korea and is sending about 70 medical and lab personnel, doctors and nurses to help test military, dependents and contractor personnel for the coronavirus once test kits arrive from the CDC. They will also to provide clinical care and laboratory support.