Pentagon To Mobilize Reserve Soldiers For Ebola Duty
Mr. Hagel. Are we at war with Ebola? Has Congress passed a Declaration of War against Ebola? If not, you have no Constitutional authority to send these reservists into harm’s way. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor
by Tom Vanden Brook
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the involuntary mobilization of 2,100 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers for duty in Ebola-ravaged West Africa, the Pentagon announced Friday.
The Army is notifying soldiers and their families about the compulsory call-up, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement. The units and their specialties are not being identified until the troops have been informed. Last month, the Pentagon announced its intent to mobilize eight reservists who had the engineering skills needed for building medical facilities.
The forces will replace troops on duty in Liberia and Senegal. Currently, more than 2,200 troops are serving in the region as part of United Assistance, the operation led by the U.S. Agency for International Development but manned mostly by troops.
The Pentagon chose to mobilize reservists and guardsmen for the Ebola mission in part because of their specialties such as civil affairs. Reserve forces often follow active-duty soldiers after the first stage of a longer-term mission. For example, reserve forces are deployed to Kosovo.
The Ebola virus has killed more than 5,100 people in West Africa, most of them in Liberia. U.S. troops have constructed a mobile hospital there to treat infected aid workers, and are setting up treatment units around the country. They are also training local health care workers on how to safely treat victims.
The mobilized reservists and guardsmen will receive training on Ebola and malaria prevention before deploying.
Troops returning from duty there are essentially quarantined for 21 days to ensure they have not contracted Ebola. This week, a group of more than 80 airmen, sailors, soldiers and marines was confined to a portion of Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.