NTC 2020 Information
The Minnesota National Guard's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division will conduct a training rotation at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, in July 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How are you ensuring soldiers coming home don't have COVID-19?
A: Any soldier that presents COVID-19 signs or symptoms during their departure screening from Fort Irwin will receive a second COVID-19 test.
Q: How long will soldiers be held up at Fort Irwin if they test positive for COVID-19?
A: Under current FORSCOM guidance, any soldier who tests positive are isolated for a minimum of 10 days. Within that 10 day period, a soldier must be fever and symptom free for three days, and must test negative on two COVID-19 tests within 24 hours. If a soldier is still positive after 10 days, they will be not be released until they test negative on two COVID-19 tests within 24 hours.
Q: What if a soldier who passes their departure screening wants to get a second COVID-19 test?
A: Soldiers who have at risk family members, and develop signs or symptoms of COIVD-19 when they return home should be seen by their civilian medical provider. Soldiers who simply want a COVID-19 test upon returning home can access testing locations posted on the Minnesota COVID Response webpage: https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/testing-locations/index.jsp.
Q: Why is it so crucial for 1/34th ABCT to attend NTC at this time?
A: Army Forces Command is directing the 1/34 ABCT to execute an NTC rotation in preparation for their upcoming deployment. NTC provides critical training and a chance to identify room for improvement. Ensuring we complete this training over the summer will prevent us from having to add additional days prior to mobilization which would impact Soldiers during the holiday season.
Q: I heard that other NTC rotations have been cancelled or rescheduled ahead of and behind us, why are we still going forward with NTC training?
A: The rotations ahead of 1/34th ABCT were rescheduled because of the Department of Defense's stop movement order. The 1/34 ABCT is the first rotation after the stop movement order expires on June 30. All NTC rotations starting with the 1/34 ABCT and following the 1/34 ABCT will be conducted as scheduled by FORSCOM.
Q: What communication method has been used to pass changes regarding the NTC rotation to Soldiers and their families?
A: Changes are communicated through the chain-of-command from the Brigade Headquarters down to the company level. If a Soldier has any questions, they should reach out to their chain-of-command.
Q: What is the plan to reduce spread of COVID-19?
A: The 1/34th ABCT takes the health of our Soldiers seriously. Transportation, including buses and air travel, will include social distancing measures to and from NTC.
Upon arrival to Fort Irwin, Soldiers will go through a medical screening. Anyone who may be experiencing symptoms will be pulled aside to a separate designated billeting area to be tested.
Soldiers will be sent into the field, known as "the box," as soon as possible. This will ensure Soldiers are in smaller groups to reduce the likelihood of infection. The outside Observer Coach/Trainers will also stay in the box with the Soldiers they are observing rather than coming and going as they have in the past.
While in the box, increased handwashing stations and latrines will be available. Soldiers will have daily health screenings, and are able to be tested in the field if the Soldier is experiencing symptoms. If a Soldier is experiencing symptoms, the Soldier will be moved away from the group to be tested. If needed, those the Soldier has been in contact with will also be tested and/or quarantined.
Q: Are the Soldiers going to be tested for COVID-19 before NTC? After?
A: Soldiers will be tested for COVID-19 prior to leaving for NTC.
NTC is by nature an isolated environment, with little to no exposure to those outside of the training environment. Upon returning from NTC, Soldiers will receive a medical screening. Once a Soldier is medically cleared, they will return home.
Q: Are masks going to be part of the uniform?
A: Yes. Cloth masks will be issued to Soldiers and they will be required to wear them.
Q: What is the protocol for dealing with a sick person or COVID-19 positive person at NTC?
A: Soldiers who are experiencing symptoms will be separated, screened and tested. A robust medical support plan is in place to provide the necessary medical treatment. Fort Irwin is prepared to deal with any medical condition encountered during the NTC rotation, including COVID-19.
Q: How long will Soldiers be on orders?
A: 1/34 ABCT main-body Soldiers will be on orders for 31 days. Some Soldiers will serve for additional duty before or after the main rotation. All Soldiers will remain on continuous orders until they are medically released following their duty completion. Soldiers on orders for longer than 30 days will receive all entitled benefits (including BAH and BAS).
Q: My employer has a policy that states I must quarantine for 14 days if I leave the state prior to returning to work. Will I be on orders during this mandated quarantine?
A: The 1/34th ABCT is following protective guidance provided by FORSCOM. Upon the completion of NTC, all Soldiers will be medically cleared prior to being released. Soldiers will stay on orders, if required, based on medical assessments until they are cleared to return back to their civilian employer.
Military personnel are protected under Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), this includes during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have concerns we encourage Soldiers and employers to call their Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) representative 1.800.336.4590 (Option 1).
Q: My family care plan is a frontline worker and will not be able to care for our kids while I'm gone.
My family care plan is not setup to include the realities of a global pandemic.
I'm a single parent and my childcare plans have changed with the pandemic.
A: We understand that we are in challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a Soldier experiencing extenuating circumstances, reach out to your chain-of-command.