Defense Secretary Mark Esper extended orders barring military travel starting Monday and lasting through June 30. The travel ban was issued in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus among the military.
Travel restrictions affecting both domestic and overseas military and Department of Defense travel were originally announced in March, with initial overseas travel restrictions set to last 60 days. Matthew Donovan, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness said during a Pentagon press briefing Saturday that Esper would be extending the order.
The order applies to all DoD service members both domestically and abroad. DoD civilian personnel and dependents both military and civilian personnel must also stop government-funded travel for the prescribed period of time, carrying over the policies implemented in mid-March.
“Continuing these travel restrictions is necessary because of the global nature of the Department of Defense enterprise. We have service members stationed in all 50 states with innumerous foreign nations across the globe,” Donovan stated. “While many areas in the United States may be on a positive trajectory, some areas and many nations are not.”
Donovan said the Pentagon will continue to monitor conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and reassess its policies every 15 days “to determine if conditions allow travel to resume earlier than June 30.”
When asked whether the Pentagon may have to extend the stop movement order beyond June, Donovan answered, “Well, never say never.”
Donovan faced another question about how the Pentagon will help military members who have signed leases and prepared to move as part of planned Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.
“You know, we’re making sure that the services understand all their authorities for paying. There are situations where it’s at no fault of the member that they don’t have to pay,” Donovan said. “There are other, under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, there’s, you know, a lot of times clauses have been put in those things for military orders are exempted and this is a valid military order.”
He added that the Pentagon will have a “hands-on” effort to figure deal with move cases.
Donovan also announced during the extended travel restrictions period, that the Pentagon would allow service members to continue to accrue leave beyond the normal carryover limit of 60 days, for up to 120 days of leave.
“I signed a department-wide authorization for service members to accrue and retain an additional leave balance of up to 120 days, which is twice the normal carryover limit of 60 days,” he said, adding that members may use any leave beyond their normal 60 balance through September 30, 2023 before it expires.