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US Army promises to protect its new cadets at West Point from pandemic

New York, USThe coronavirus pandemic has shut down businesses, schools and many other activities the world over. But the elite West Point Military Academy in upstate New York made clear Friday the business of national security was still very much operational as the school welcomed its new incoming class of cadets.

Inviting the media to look on, West Point was busy hosting firing, obstacle courses and other activities for their new class. Commanders at West Point made clear the pandemic has forced them to both scale back and carry on in compliance with social distancing norms. But according to U.S. Colonel Alan Boyer, West Point's director of military instruction, the school has been able to complete 80 percent of its usual cadet instruction.

"We've put in a number of measures of how we're training, how we're cohorting. And you'll see that today as you get out and about. We're maintaining firebreaks at the platoon level. So I said if we were to have a COVID incident, we could easily go in, isolate, quarantine those folks, treat them, clean them and get the platoon back to training. 

So the first thing we've done is, is implement those measures along with our MPI, or wear masks or social distancing in order to allow us to protect our people," he explained to Reuters. "First and foremost, the number one thing that we want to do out here is protect our people." Speaking in June in West Point, President Donald Trump told West Point's last graduating class their job will be to defend "America's vital interests" and not fight "endless wars" in faraway lands. 

In his commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Trump told more than 1,000 graduating cadets, arrayed in a social-distancing pattern, that the job of the American soldier is not to rebuild foreign nations but "defend, and defend strongly, our nation from foreign enemies."

As president, Trump has pulled troops from Syria and pushed U.S. allies worldwide to pay more for the commitment of American forces to defend them.

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