Washington, D.C. —Today, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper seeking information about the availability of ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) to military and civilian personnel.  To date, more than 2,500 servicemembers, dependents, and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians have tested positive for coronavirus.  

“Without essential medical supplies and personal protective equipment, the coronavirus crisis could expand rapidly from a medical risk for DOD personnel to an operational and strategic threat to our national security interests,” Chairman Lynch wrote.  “It is critical for Congress to have a complete understanding of any equipment or capability limitations the Department and military planners have identified so that supplemental appropriations can be made in forthcoming legislation to support the health and readiness of our military forces.”

Chairman Lynch previously requested information about the availability of DOD medical supplies and PPE on March 26, 2020, but the Department has not provided a response.

The Subcommittee also requested documents and communications related to the April 2, 2020, dismissal of Captain Brett Crozier, who on March 30, 2020, wrote a memorandum recommending that all 5,000 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt disembark and self-quarantine for two weeks so the ship could be sanitized.

On March 26, 2020, there were eight positive coronavirus cases onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  By April 6, 2020, that number had grown to 173

“Although it seems Captain Crozier may have operated outside his chain of command, it appears that he did what he thought was best for the health and safety of his crew and the readiness of his ship to successfully carry-out their mission,” Chairman Lynch wrote.  “I certainly do not want his removal to have a chilling effect on military leaders who have been entrusted to protect the men and women under their command in this challenging operational environment.”

Today’s letter requests that DOD provide information about the availability of medical supplies and PPE to its military and civilian personnel by April 10, 2020, and documents and communications related to the coronavirus outbreak onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt by April 17, 2020.

Click here to read the letter.