Stephen Mariano, USAWCF ’06
Greetings from Italy and the NATO Defense College. In terms of being here during the COVID-19 crisis, it took a little while for everyone to realize that the virus wouldn’t stay in the north where it originally appeared in Italy. The regional governments and communities in places like Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Piemonte, and the Veneto took action with social distancing and self-isolation but it wasn’t enough. Our US Army teammates up in Vicenza were much closer to the Italian epicenter and we were watching their reactions closely, closing gyms and day care centers and eventually schools. Being further south here in Rome, we were a few days behind the northern provinces but eventually enacted all the protocols in accordance with the Italian policies, or in some cases we took action a little before they were mandated. We closed the gym, the coffee bar, the mess, had the building sanitized, and moved to only essential personnel at the College. Am proud to say that we are operating the Senior Course with only about 5% of our faculty and staff in the building on any given day. Big kudos to our computer information services and education technology teams for pushing the course online and getting the faculty and staff enabled for telework so quickly. We had two people test positive but they’ve since tested negative and, thanks to everyone’s diligence in following the protocols, we’ve made an impressive contribution to stopping the spread of the virus. We use an Italian website in our morning updates for watching the trends; it shows the curve, not only the eventual flattening that started a few days ago but now also indicates the downward trend that we hope sustains right down to zero! Even though we’re still under relatively severe movement restrictions and asked to only go outside for groceries and trips to the pharmacy, based on the downward trends, we are thinking about how to bring people back to the College. The health of our faculty, staff, and course members are paramount to our continuing the mission, so we want to ensure we’re ready to get back to “normal” activities in an appropriate way that gives everyone peace of mind that they are safe. Surely, there will be a new normal after this pandemic. It’s unprecedented in our lifetimes. COLs Chris Stangle, USAWCF ’20, Jim Huber, RES ’15, and Lance Varney, RES’16 are also here.
COL (Ret) Stephen J. Mariano, Ph.D.
Army War College Fellow 2006
NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy