With India sitting on the cusp of stage 3 — community transmission — of the coronavirus pandemic, the armed forces face three major challenges. To control the spread of the virus among its personnel in order to maintain operational preparedness.
To prevent the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir from using Covid-19 as a biological weapon to target the military and the population, and exploit the situation to step up insurgency. And to assist the government in fighting the scourge if the pandemic reaches stage 3 and 4.
Threat to personnel
Military is known for its high standards of hygiene and sanitation, and health care. However, its living and functional environment also creates serious vulnerabilities. Troops live in barracks with common toilets and bathing areas. They dine in community messes. Functionally, during training and operations, they operate in close proximity to each other.
Hence, the military simply cannot afford to allow Covid-19 to penetrate its environment as it is difficult to practice social distancing there. History is replete with examples where contagious diseases have caused more casualties than actual fighting.
The military, thus, has no option but to cocoon itself. Apart from isolating the cantonments, military stations, air and naval bases, decongestion of barracks must take place, and part of the troops must be moved to tented camps or prefabricated shelters. Soldiers and families living in civilian areas must be moved inside the military stations into temporary accommodations.
Those going on leave should be stopped and those already on leave should either get extension or be put under quarantine on return.