COVID-19: US freezes overseas troop movements

Coronavirus: US freezes overseas troop movements in COVID-19 lockdown

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered a 60-day freeze on moves by US troops and civilian defense employees overseas in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The move stopped the deployment or redeployment of some 90,000 US service members for the next two months. It also freezes in place the families of service members who travelled overseas with their deployments.

"This measure is taken to aid in further prevention of the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), to protect US personnel and preserve the operational readiness of our global force," the Pentagon said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said Esper's order "is not expected to impact" the drawdown of some 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan targeted to be completed within 135 days of the February 29 peace pact with the Taliban.

As of Wednesday morning, the Pentagon said there were 435 current and recovered COVID-19 cases among military personnel, civilians, contractors and their families. One Defense Department contractor died from the disease.

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