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Rohrabacher: Use of U.S. Troops in Ebola Fight Misguided

Sep 26, 2014

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Wednesday criticized President Obama’s decision to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Africa in an effort to combat the deadly Ebola virus. The California Republican said the deployment misuses the country’s trained fighting forces and illustrates the president’s confused understanding of the military’s purpose.

“The virus is unquestionably horrifying, and Americans are always at their best when mounting relief efforts in disasters, epidemics and the like,” said Rohrabacher, “but our troops are trained strictly to fight the armed enemies of our country. This diverts them from their true role and exposes them needlessly to infection.”

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected that Ebola could infect more than a million people in West Africa by January. Already the World Health Organization has reported 5,800 cases and 2,800 deaths in the affected areas. The CDC has put the respective numbers at more than twice those figures.

“Our soldiers might expect to take a bullet for their country,” said the congressman, “but taking a virus that could isolate them and prevent their returning home while treated – and in worst cases kill them – is the proverbial bridge too far.” 

Rohrabacher noted that Obama has repeatedly pledged that American troops will not be sent into another ground war in the Middle East, this while launching multiple airstrikes on Iraq and Syria in an ambiguous strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State.

“The naivete is striking,” he said. “It’s the age-old fantasy of turning swords into ploughshares, the last iteration of which was called ‘nation-building.’ That is not what an effective military is called on or trained to do.

“Imagine you’re a young American who volunteered to be placed in war zones to defend our national interest, and you hear your president telling you, ‘Oh don’t worry, I won’t send you to fight in an actual war. Instead, I’ll deploy you to the front lines of disease control.’

“That’s not exactly the certain trumpet our fighting forces want to hear,” said Rohrabacher.