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Tobin Harshaw

How the Military Can Be Ready for the Next Pandemic

Q&A with Michele Flournoy on the Trump administration’s inept leadership of national defense. 

Buried with honors, and social distancing. 

Buried with honors, and social distancing. 

Photographer: Elizabeth Fraser/U.S. Army via Getty Images

There is an old saw in military circles that armies train to fight the last war. Many in the Pentagon in recent years were intent on avoiding that trap, hence the trillions spent on fifth-generation aircraft, new fleets of aircraft carriers and ballistic submarines, and scanning the skies for Romulans. But nobody was really prepared to face an enemy 0.06 microns long.

In a sense, the coronavirus epidemic may be a chance to train for that last war. The failures (many) and successes (not as many) of government officials provide stark lessons for responding to a potential reflare of Covid-19 cases this fall, and whatever biological nightmares are further around the corner.