COVID-19 upends DOD IG's look at CENTCOM's base defense programs

By John Liang / February 16, 2021 at 10:20 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Defense Department inspector general to terminate an evaluation of whether U.S. Central Command can properly defend itself against missiles and unmanned aircraft systems.

"The objective was to determine whether U.S. Central Command is prepared to defend critical assets within its area of responsibility against missile and unmanned aircraft system threats," a Feb. 11 DOD IG memo states. "We are terminating this evaluation because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions."

A Feb. 18, 2020 memo calling for the evaluation stated that the IG would "perform the evaluation in the United States, and the U.S. Central Command area of operations. We will coordinate with U.S. Central Command, U.S. Central Command's Service Component Headquarters, and other DOD agencies or commands," adding: "We may identify additional locations to perform fieldwork during the scoping process of our evaluation."

Last March, the defense secretary "issued travel restrictions to [outside the contiguous United States], affecting our anticipated evaluation scope and methodology," last week's memo reads. The IG's audit was subsequently suspended "with the intention to continue after returning to normal operations. The continued COVID-19 pandemic limits our ability to perform the project efficiently due to security classifications concerns."