An Abundance of Hysteria

Sorry for another Ebola post.

I read an article from the AP about DOD’s designation of five bases in the United States for troops who come to West Africa to serve out their 21-day quarantine.  Seriously unnecessary, since they’re not coming in contact with any Ebola patients.  At all.  No, they’re not even coming close.  The rationale for the plan has been somewhat offensive, since one of the justifications is that some of the troops are younger, and inexperienced, and can’t be trusted to to take proper precautions while there or to self-monitor upon return.  Please, give them some credit.  Isn’t the military about discipline?

What got me going was this final paragraph:

That policy goes beyond precautions recommended by the Obama administration for civilians,

Officials have said the difference reflect the facts that troops are in West Africa in greater numbers, for longer periods of time and are not there by choice. They also said they took into account concerns among family members and the communities from which the troops are deploying.

To borrow a phase that’s been kicking around the office, “out of an abundance of hysteria…”  Again, sorry, the troops are not here longer than the civilians.  CDC has been here, on rotations, since July, if not earlier.  We also have the U.S. Public Health Service (ok, not really civilian) who will be here just as long.  People from the National Institutes of Health (who are working with medical personnel) have also been here since July.

You also have the 100 or so Foreign Service Officers who have been here since Ebola broke out in Guinea 11 months ago.  U.S. presence here did not begin with Operation United Assistance.  For the Department of Defense to treat its soldiers in a different way than the civilians either betrays a lack of trust in their judgment, or is simply due to an abundance of hysteria.   If it’s the latter, it only feeds the insanity in the U.S., complicating efforts to let science guide the response, both there and here.

Done with the rant for now.  Thanks for listening.