Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said Monday that a team of about 20 nurses, five infectious disease experts and five trainers are preparing to assist hospitals in their response to the Ebola crisis if and only if they ask for it.
“We actually do have the legal authority to do this,” Adm. Kirby said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This is nothing more than potential support, and I stress, potential support to civilian medical authorities if and only if they ask for that.”
“They’re going to get down to Texas for some training this week so that they have all the protocols in place” and so that they’re sufficiently prepared, he said.
They will then be prepared to deploy within 72 hours, Adm. Kirby said, with the “ready” status lasting for about 30 days to go assist civilian medical authorities anywhere in the country that might need them.
The Pentagon said Sunday that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had ordered the formation of the team, to be formed by Northern Command’s Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby.
The team would not be deployed to West Africa or other locations.
In West Africa, there are about 540 troops focused on four lines of effort: command and control, logistics, engineering and training, Adm. Kirby said.
There are also two emergency treatment units in the process of being built.
“The weather has been a factor, no question about it — it’s monsoon season down there” and the rain is slowing thing down a bit, he said.
“It’s a little slower than we’d like it to go, but that’s what our troops are focused on — those unique capabilities that the military can provide,” Adm. Kirby said.