President Obama issued an executive order on Thursday which authorized the Pentagon to call upon reserve troops in order to combat the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that has ravaged the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. He also opened the door to an Ebola “czar” to coordinate the response because, according to him, an additional official may be helpful as his advisers work to deal with terrorism and the upcoming flu season.
“I hereby determine that it is necessary to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of Operation United Assistance, which is providing support to civilian-led humanitarian assistance and consequence management support related to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa,” stated the executive order, which was delivered to Congress on Thursday.
While President Obama said that he had no “philosophical objection” to preventing people from West Africa from entering the United States, he said that he would continue to listen to experts who say that a flat-out travel ban is not the best way to go.”
The Pentagon says that the executive order enables the military to begin planning for reservists or the National Guard in its overall response, but that it has no immediate plans to deploy those troops in West Africa. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the order “doesn’t mean that we are deploying these forces, but it gives us the option to do so if we need to.”
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