What others say: Military key to stopping Ebola

  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014 3:23pm
  • Opinion

President Barack Obama is sending more than 3,000 active duty troops to West Africa. He signed an executive order authorizing the Pentagon to call up reserves and the National Guard to help fight the Ebola virus.

At first glance, this appears to be a head scratcher. How are men and women who carry machine guns supposed to fight a microscopic bug?

But this may be one of the smartest actions the federal government has taken. The best way to keep the story of Ebola in the United States to a single incident at a Dallas hospital is to stop the virus at its source. Czars and travel bans will be of little help if the epidemic explodes in Africa.

Troopers are not doctors, and they won’t be treating people. Their purpose is to create a health-care infrastructure in three countries that essentially have none. That’s why infections have spread so quickly.

The military’s first task is to build a 25-bed field hospital for infected health-care workers. Navy Seabees will also build 17 treatment centers with 100 beds each. Specialists are training local professionals how to handle Ebola patients and testing blood samples to confirm infections.

When this crisis began, Liberia’s only lab, housed in a collection of World War II-era buildings, could barely test 40 specimens a day. U.S. workers have upgraded that lab and added three more.

Reserves would fill any gaps active-duty personnel cannot in such areas as technical engineering and communications systems, according to USA TODAY. Logisticians, comptrollers and religious specialists may also be needed.

Sending in the troops is the humanitarian thing to do and part of our nation long tradition. More than 4,400 people have died already. Children have been orphaned. Without U.S. involvement, it will only get worse.

But sending troops is also self-defense.

Consider the hysteria in this country after one man died and two nurses who treated him were infected. There is no epidemic in this country, yet politicians and many in the media are acting as if there was. If Ebola were actually to establish a foothold, our economy and lives would come to a standstill.

No one wants that. But a czar can’t stop it. Nor can a flight ban. The only way to prevent that is to quell the virus where it began. The U.S. military has a role to play.

— Arizona Republic,

Oct. 20

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