Scads of regular meetings, events, and award ceremonies on Warren AFB and for Guard members have been disrupted by Covid restrictions. The usual flow and rhythm of military and Base life has been unsettled while dealing with the pandemic.
In his report to the AFA group about happenings at Warren AFB, Vice Wing Commander Deane Konowicz, mentioned that base leadership is continuing to discuss positive ways to try to get the base back to as close to normal as possible. Konowicz also mentioned that there are approximately 400 new airmen at the base that have never experienced the Air Force, and Warren AFB in a normal way, as it was prior to the Spring of 2020.
That hit home with those of us in attendance at the meeting. We have all made adjustments from ‘normal’ in our lives during this time, but these young airman have never really known ‘normal’ military life.
Also during this period of time many experienced airmen have separated or retired, leaving a hole in institutional knowledge and memory.
Multiply the 400 here at Warren across our U.S military in the country and the world, and there may be a real, permanent shift in how some military events, traditions, and ceremonies are conducted for the long term. Does this also lead to evolution in temporary duty assignments and permanent changes of station, too?
The civilian world is dealing with similar questions, and is transforming as needed. But the military structure tends to be less easily adaptable, unless forced by outside circumstances-like a pandemic. Alterations in course are difficult and often take some time to accomplish. Pandemic restrictions and adjustments have quickened the pace of change, some of which will become permanent.
Much can be learned from dealing with these unexpected circumstances. Some of the necessary modifications will become positive policy and efficiencies for the future. But will we also lose some of the beneficial elements of military culture in post pandemic life?
That’s the question military leaders are beginning to grapple with. As restrictions continue over time, what was normal pre-pandemic may be viewed as unusual in the not too distant future.
And with the ups and downs in Covid cases from place to place, who knows when we may get back to life as it was prior to the outbreak of the disease.