Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley sought to assure the nation Monday that national security and force readiness were unaffected by the decision he and top commanders made last week to work at home after isolating as a precaution against the coronavirus.
"We all have various SCIFs, special compartmented information facilities, built into our houses," Milley said in an interview with NPR, "and we all have all the same communication systems we have in the Pentagon."
Milley and several other top commanders began self-quarantining last week after being notified on Oct. 5 by Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the Coast Guard, that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Ray had earlier participated in meetings at the Pentagon.
On Oct. 6, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said in a statement that "Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings" with Ray were self-quarantining.
"There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the U.S. Armed Forces," Hoffman added. "Senior military leaders are able to remain fully mission-capable and perform their duties from an alternative work location."
Others in self-quarantine included Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday; Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown; Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John "Jay" Raymond; Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson; Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of U.S. Cyber Command; and Gen. Gary Thomas, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.
On Oct. 7, the Marine Corps announced that Thomas had also tested positive for coronavirus.
In the NPR interview, Milley said he wanted to "assure the American people that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are fully functional, even though we're functional from home."
"We can go to any level of security and so on" from home through the SCIFs," Milley said. "So we're quite able to operate and maintain our daily duties and oversee the responsibilities that we have on a daily basis."
-- Gina Harkins contributed.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.