DoD Requires Face Masks in Departure From Previous Stance

 In Military

On April 5, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued new guidance for all Military and Civilians regarding the use of face masks. Previously, it was stated that they probably didn’t work anyway, but now, with over 978 military members and over 700 civilians diagnosed with Coronavirus, the DOD requires them.

The Pentagon will not issue face masks at this time, but has allowed the use of homemade ones. The Navy plans to have uniform masks, but is also allowing homemade ones until they arrive.

The issue with face masks is obvious: people with face masks are not as easily recognizable.  The Secretary’s guidance is careful to state that the lowering of a face covering may also be required.

DoD Requires face masks

Here is the guidance statement from the Secretary of Defense:

SUBJECT: Department of Defense Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of our Service members, DoD civilian employees, families, and the Nation in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. DoD supports, and will continue to implement, all measures necessary to mitigate risks to the spread of the disease, consistent with the Department’s priorities to protect our people, safeguard our national security capabilities, and support the government’s whole-of-nation response.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Military personnel, DoD civilian employees, their family members, and DoD contractors are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in public settings or where other social
distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of
social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member’s or Service family member’s personal residence on a military installation). This includes all:
• Military Personnel
• DoD Civilian Employees
• Family Members
• DoD Contractors
• All other individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities

Exceptions to this requirement may be approved by local commanders or supervisors, and then submitted up the chain of command for situational awareness. Security checkpoints
may require the lowering of face covers to verify identification.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will issue updated force health protection guidance on DoD implementation. The Military Departments will issue guidance on wear for Service members. As an interim measure, all individuals are encouraged to fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as clean T-shirts or other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth area. Medical personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators or surgical masks will not be issued for this purpose as these will be reserved for the appropriate personnel.

The Department will continue to implement force protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to our total force and their families, and the American people. The latest DoD policies can be found at

Now that the DoD requires face masks, we hope the upswing on COVID-19 cases will abate.

Featured photo via Stars and Stripes:

A parachute rigger with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Group Support Battalion sews surgical masks for medical patients at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on March 31, 2020. JOE PARRISH/U.S. ARMY


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