LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On July 1, thousands of Army National Guardsmen found out their training set for this upcoming weekend has been canceled.
This coming a week after we looked into the safety plan that was aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
It all came down to testing. Initially, there was no plan to test soldiers as they came and left training. They were only going to test soldiers who showed symptoms and that was a big concern for a lot of soldiers that we spoke to.
The training would have brought 4,300 troops from both here and out of state together. Soldiers would be living at Fort Chaffee in Fort Smith and working closely.
Last week we questioned the National Guard and the governor about the plans since many soldiers were concerned about asymptomatic cases leading to an outbreak. After our investigation, the National Guard told us there was a plan to test soldiers before they left training but at the Governor’s press conference today it was announced that a federal law blocked those tests from getting paid for and that is why they canceled training.
“We were trying to buy the kits that’s where we ran up against the constraint, figured out it was going to be a major problem for us, and we began planning for what next,” said Major General Kendall Penn from the Arkansas Army National Guard.
Instead, troops will either do virtual drills or drills at their home armories. We talked to several soldiers today and they say they are happy training was canceled and they believe this will reduce the risk of them catching the virus and possibly spreading it to their families.
Click below to see the full letter sent to soldiers.