US military
© REUTERS/Mike Segar
US military personnel walk outside of coronavirus testing center in Staten Island borough of New York City
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has put forth a stop movement order halting all travel overseas for officials, but he insists the Afghanistan withdrawal will continue as planned.

Esper has told Reuters the stop movement order is in place for US troops, civilian personnel and their families, but Afghanistan movements will be an exception. The order is meant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus within the military's ranks.

The US military had already restricted the movement of soldiers overseas in areas affected by the coronavirus like Europe and Asia, as well as canceled overseas military exercises as part of a larger effort to reevaluate where personnel and equipment needed to be focused in the outbreak.

As of Wednesday morning, 227 service members have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.


Esper previously announced in a press conference this week that if the coronavirus continues spreading at its current rate then it could have an "impact on military readiness." However, he expects the military to continue to be capable of performing national missions.

The Afghanistan withdrawal is part of a peace plan between the US and the Taliban. The plan is to slowly draw down US troop presence from 13,000 to just 8,600 by the end of the summer and then to do a progress report on whether their presence is needed in the country to ensure no attacks on the US are being planned.