Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wrong Mission, Wrong Place, Wrong Time

As the first American troops begin their battle against Ebola in West Africa, a number of current and former service members are expressing grave misgivings about the mission.  In From the Cold solicited the thoughts of several commanders and senior enlisted leaders, both active duty and retired.

Virtually all of them voiced concerns about sending troops into countries like Liberia, where the deadly disease has already claimed hundreds of lives.  Many of those contacted said they were worried about military personnel working near the so-called "hot zone" without proper training, preparation and equipment. Their comments are listed below; all requested anonymity because of their active-duty status, or current employment as a civil service or defense contractor.

We weren't trained for such an environment....just not sure this is the right thing to do.   However military personnel have been involved with humanitarian missions before and will in the future.  Sanitation....sanitation...sanitation.  How do you really prepare for this mission?    I pray for the safety of our airmen! 
- I don't believe we have ever had the Military Deploy in such an environment.  It would appear the Surgeon General's Office should take the LEAD on this MISSION and form a TEAM from the highly qualified Public Health Service Corps and Related Organizations in our Nation's Medical Field.  How about the WHO and CDC helping with this Nightmare?
-I personally do not think there is enough time to spin up our troops to a necessary level of protection.  Look at the professionals who have trained many years and are still infected.  I do not think there is a miracle "gg" shot that will protect.  My take, keep them out!
My naivety leads me to believe, hope, pray that the troops will get advance training prior to deployment.  If it were only  100 troops i’d know they were Sierra Hotel, the cream of the crop,  and know for certain they were trained and equipped to meet the exigency.  But 3000, I gotta say I think from experience there will be a lot of back-fills for the late, lame and lazy not to mention the down right scared.  All the hyperbole in the movies and media doesn’t help — hell our government doesn’t help when they acknowledge they have contingency plans for a "Zombie Apocalypse”.   But professionals have been fighting this epidemic for a long time and yes , there has been causalities but not to the extant that we should teeter on whether as soldiers we should not follow orders.  You know I am not a fan of the Obama in general and especially political generals but I still have faith we have some very solid O-6’s who will do the right thing mission-wise.  Sorry but some of those same O-6’s cross lines that set you and yours off from time to time — but we do not have enough choir boys to fill every billet. Sometimes it takes a risk-taker to stand up and take the risk of saying — "hell no we won’t go"  without proper training, equipment and security.  
It’s a one way ticket.  From my perspective SF gets zero training in how to handle people in this type of environment.  They are not physically or mentally prepared for this.  I remember before deploying to Romania in 2003 where AIDS is prevalent I asked for boxes of surgical gloves and CPR masks.  People could not get it in their heads there was the potential of a silent killer and unfortunately today we are no better off.  Remember; time, distance, and shielding was the only answer we use to get for an NBC attack.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to work in this environment and I am sure as hell glad I am not one of those poor souls going.  Again, it’s a one way ticket.

-Terms … time & training:
Time:  45 days minimum because we would have to build a course to prepare our folks.  15 days research; 5 days writing and course prep; 30 days of phase in/out training.  Probably broken into a 360 stair step approach.  Enlisted and officers in the same room going through the same training/discussions.  I would contact the university of Nebraska medical center (UNMC) and ask the lead doctor on one of the current Ebola cases for an interview to get the skinny on prevention, signs of detection, case studies, videos, and any other thing I could get my hands on for the course build.  I would then contract someone from the CDC or again a major teaching university such as UNMC to teach my folks what they needed to survive … kind of a zero to sixty crash course in Ebola 101 to PhD!  This would have to include simulations as what to do if someone throws up on me, spits on me, bleeds on me, slings any body fluid on me and yes this would be in any situation.  The major question everyone should be asking is how it is spread, and what to do in case of infection.  I am also pretty sure I would call up the Chaplin corps and get as many sermons or prayers as possible because when all else fails I would need as much faith as possible!  Then before going I would also include the families … my gut tells me I would plan on a 50% to 80% infection rate.  As far as cost … you’d better conceal sequestration and have Obama endorse a no limit spending measure as far as equipment is concerned. As the old saying goes:  Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

These observations came from men and women with well over a century of combined military leadership experience, in a variety of career fields/MOS's/ratings.  They are not given to exaggeration or hyperbole, and their concerns are shared by many more in the ranks.  To be fair, there are some units in the armed forces that are well-prepared for such a mission, namely the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick.  But as one of our respondents noted, many of the support troops providing security, logistics and engineering support will be drawn from the ranks of line units, and those personnel are poorly prepared for the Ebola mission.  

Pray for their safety.     


Vigilis said...

Let is not forget that there has already been an equally curious precedent for Obama's insertion of servicemen and women into 'humanitarian' harms way.

During Operation Tomodachi, the 2011 Fukushima relief mission, crew of nuclear carrier USS Ronald Reagan confronted radiation levels far in excess of the Japanese government's estimates, according to a report in The Asia-Pacific Journal.

How did that one end? So far, Reagan sailors and marines have been medically removed from duty and there is a $1 billion lawsuit against TEPCO.

Article: "US Navy Knew that “Major Radiation Hits” from Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan"

That is not all, either. As one mighy expect, onboard nuclear technicians routinely monitor radiation levels. "On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says."

Pathetic ROE in "war" zones is not the only manner in which a military can be abused by such decisions.

Pray for their morale, too. This CnC is either woefully incompetent or malevolent.

Old NFO said...

Concur, and I'm hearing the same thing at my work... Seabees ESPECIALLY are not happy...

James said...

If there is but one suspected infection what then? How would you quarantine 3000? Where? What about the in and out circulation of personel?

What about all the equipment used for this mission? Can any of it come back?

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Nate,
I also throw this out there...what will happen if one of the islamic groups grab a group of service members and then whack their head off in a "you-tube" video. If Obama and crew don't think the terrorist groups don't swap Intel and expertise? I can see ISIS buying some captured servicemen from their oil money from the islamic groups in the area..then taking them to syria and cutting their heads off. That would be a propaganda coup of enormous benefit.