About 30,000 Troops Waiting to PCS as DOD Implements COVID-19 Safeguards

U.S. Transportation Command has about 30,000 service members and their families lined up and scheduled to move to another installation as part of a permanent change of station, and the Pentagon is requiring movers to meet new guidelines aimed at protecting troops and families from COVID-19.

Since the first restriction of movement order came out in mid-March, TRANSCOM has conducted about 12,500 shipments of household goods for service members who PCS, which is about 30 percent of the command’s typical volume, said Rick Marsh, the command’s director of defense personal property program. While the order blocks most movement within the military, service members can receive waivers to move.

The current restriction extends through June 30, and Marsh said the 30,000 cases represent troops who have been granted waivers and have a PCS date set.

To keep these families safe, Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized new protocols requiring movers to abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for protection against the new coronavirus. This includes requiring face masks, social distancing as much as possible, regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, and movers must provide proof that they have been screened for the virus. Personnel are allowed to directly question movers about their health protection steps, according to a DOD news release.

If a family does not feel comfortable with a moving crew, they can report that to their chain of command and local transportation office to have the move rescheduled, Marsh said.

The Air Force, and all other services, are required to verify with all of their service members that moving companies are complying with the measures, according to the release.

TRANSCOM on April 30 awarded a $7.2 billion contract to New Jersey-based American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier Group to oversee all household goods movement. The contract means the one company will oversee subcontractors who will carry out the moves, with the goal of more oversight and accountability of those who transport the personal property of service members.

TRANSCOM and the company are taking nine months to integrate information technology systems, with the first move expected in February 2021, according to a command news release. The company will oversee all moves, both domestic and international, in mid-2022.