US Troops in West Africa Subject to 21-Day Quarantine

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel signs off on new directive for military members deployed to Ebola-infected countries.
12:14 | 10/29/14

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Transcript for US Troops in West Africa Subject to 21-Day Quarantine
Hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York all US military members serving in a bowl and infected countries. Will be subjected to 21 day quarantine before or they would be free to go home. Secretary of defense struck Cagle signed off on that recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff this morning. He was asked about his decision at the Washington ideas forum. A little less than an hour ago here is that exchange. Sort out. Would one bit of news there's some people will order you signed today helps about what that what's significant says. What I scientists warning was today. Memorandum to. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In response to the memorandum. Recommendation I received from the chairman and the chiefs yesterday. Two go forward. With the policy. Essentially 21 day incubation. For our men and women who would be returning from West Africa. That. Policy was put in place. By the chief staff and army. A couple of days ago for general Williams and can it is. Associates who are now back at their base is in Italy. And what I said in response. This morning was give me within fifteen days the operational specifics of how that would work. And then none. I I believe we should review that policy. Within 45 days the fact is the military we'll have more. Americans. In you know. Library than at any other. A department. That's number one number two. RO people. Our younger cohorts. Are different. They are not volunteers. And this is also. A policy that. Was discussed in great detail by the communities. By the families. Or military men and women and did a very much wanted. A safety valve on this so that's essentially. What. The directive says. Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel there explain his decision to enforce the 21 day quarantined. For more on that directive I want to bring in ABC's Lee Martinez at the Pentagon Louis thanks for joining us give us an idea first of all are there any surprises about. Hey eagles' decision. And it was it really surprise Michelle given yesterday the president kind of hinted that this might be the case. I the president indicating that the military by its nature has more prescribe regulations and the general population and what we're talking about here is of course that. The 21 day quarantine Carrie goes beyond what the CDC says is necessary for health care workers. In the civilian population scenes debate that are I was in New York. And in New Jersey with a health care workers that were being treated there are kept in quarantine controversially. My dad has so that kind of spilled over here to the Pentagon as to whether the joint chiefs recommendation was based on science and whether it went beyond what the CDC was saying. About the president kind of ending at that yesterday kind of that gave the quick green light. Pretty much to secretary -- to do this at which it point out that this 21 day period of monitoring and was already going to be in place by the Pentagon. Wall at the joint chiefs recommended was that this go beyond. And that this monitoring take place away from other military personnel and that these military members not have contact. With their families. That's what makes this a little different. A step forward and in this practice. Monitoring for evil. Myers. And we heard from secretary Cagle there and we heard from yesterday from President Obama that the basis of the decision of the distinction between. Those who volunteered to go to West Africa and those troops who are ordered to be there. Explain that difference and why that matters to military leaders. The administration making the case that these health care workers civilian health care workers were going to goatee West Africa. That they might be deterred if they find out that when they come back from their service from the volunteer work inside Liberia and other countries. That they might be quarantined for 21 days the distinction of being made is that these are military service members who sign up for duty. And are being ordered into this area to assist with the able efforts the they are not volunteers you heard secretary hagel say. Right at the top that these are young people or courts are younger they are being they're not volunteering for this they're being sent there on the mission. So that's the distinction is being made here and also worth noting what he said there that this is a safety valve. For their families and for others were concerned about the safety the potential exposure of their loved ones while in West Africa. Winning is of course we must point out that. As military officers have been saying for the last month or so. These personnel will not treat health and will not treat Ebola patients at all they're just going there to set up the infrastructure that is needed to treat patients. We're talking ninety bullet treatment units which have to be built from scratch. The military personal going there are enablers there construction workers. What you stations. They aren't they were never gonna come into contact with infected Ebola patients to begin with. And but the military you're taking the extra step. Just a guarantee. The concerns of my imposed by now let's talk a little bit about the details of that extra step that quarantine you mentioned that the 21 day was already in effect but did troops have to complete the quarantine. In West Africa a Willoughby put into place when they arrived back to a military made. Well this mutually willing day quarantine Chile now in effect and it he's going to take place when he leave West Africa. So it's not in it occur in later it can happen at their home units now that's been thinking because. Over the weekend we saw the arrival of general Williams who headed the operation near inside Liberia he returned with about ten. His staffers to their base in Italy they were. They are now being kept apart in a separate facility away from the general population on the base. They're monitoring is occurring. As well in that facility. And the idea is that they're gonna expand this to be potentially 4000 military members that are going to be serving in West Africa. And what they're gonna think now is you Cagle and his SoundBite there. Talk about he wants this joint staff to come up with an idea how to implement this will be the next few weeks. Because this is going to be quite a logistical challenge because over the next six months as he's 4000 troops return back to the United States. That you have to think about high union dues are you gonna maintain separate facilities for them are you gonna do this at their home bases and he and locate them at separate locations inside the United States where you can keep it off centralized. Questions that need to be resolved but for now it's it's only impacting that small group. It initially twelve now today we find out it's 42 army soldiers who have returned to their unit in Italy and that's where they're being quarantined in a separate building. Aside from the general popular you mentioned that 4000 number how many US troops are in West Africa right now. And Hannah Powell might we see that fluctuate. As the months go on share we have 815 US military in West Africa and a I say without it appears the majority of them are in Liberia but there's also. It's good sized continued about several hundred. That are in neighboring Senegal that's because Senegal has infrastructure for an air hub. So in other words and it supplies come in by an about a personnel come in. Via air into Senegal's airports. And then they hop over into Liberia to harder to reach places where there they may not have the long runways needed. Two coming that they aircraft that are coming. So the majority of those forces there are going to be inside Liberia. We anticipate that potentially as many as 4000 will make their way. In the coming months but that could be adjusted that that's just that's the number on the hi Ian they've always told us you're depending on that they're not sure it's gonna get that high. But that's what current planning is for and it is going to be a long term mission Michelle this is gonna work out about six months at least. Where the US is getting billing seventeen Ebola treatment senators are going to be conducting weekly training for hundreds of health care workers inside. Liberia. So that's where the manpower is going. And it could add more time if the disease actually adds as well. And and that could be a very positive development that's the case. So we've got this sort of pilot program into effect right now the director will be reviewed and 45 days so there's a possibility that this quarantine. Could be lifted right it also is there any precedent before this. Right it talking about the adjustments here BK is. That they've its contingency planning in effect they want to see well we're gonna do this as a good prudent initial step. Within 45 days as we see other personal coming back maybe the disease we'll ads like I was talking about inside Liberia itself. Maybe we don't send 4000 military personal to Liberia and as a top number. So how do we make adjustments that we come on they come up with a plan for over two weeks and how they're gonna implement this stateside. I is so they're going to be adjusting their flow as as events warrant in Liberia. They're not gonna restrict themselves NT a fixed notion of how to deal with this from now on. An and of course this is also going to you impact whether. How they operate on the ground in Liberia. But now the question about how way this is the first time this has happened I believe it is the case. And and we must point out that and that the status was basically raising those the book called the low. A level of planning for people are monitoring. The Ebola monitoring that was gonna take place was. Initially the troops who returned back to the states to be on their home bases that would be quarantined me and they'd be monitored for the temperature and other Ebola symptoms. But they would be free to move around their home bases now the they have this restriction of the quarantine which takes a step further. Now let's talk a little bit of we've heard anything from military members and also. About any concerns about the lack of compensation at some of these troops serving in West Africa might receive. Well compensation issues pretty interesting Michelle Wie we get a little research on this because when you break down the numbers it doesn't seem like these troops are getting extra hazard pay for being. In a dangerous part of the world but when we talk about how much they would get if they weren't combat zone it's not really that much different. If these troops are in a combat zone let's say Iraq or Afghanistan they be getting an extra 225 dollars and then and their paycheck which coming up about seven dollars. And fifty cents extra per day. Liberia it used to be considered a dangerous. Zone of until earlier this year than it was a readjustment which countries qualify for that extra pay. So now they qualify for deployment day and it's not that much different we're talking about 150 dollars extra monthly charges Q. Five dollars so talking about 202 dollars fifty cents extra day for the deployment and I mean this goes to the notion again that. These are military service members. Doing what they're told which is that following haulers do go into you dangerous areas. And that would ever paid to get it might be commensurate that it is not really all that much concerns about them from family members. The we've heard that the over the last couple of weeks as the Dow situation evolve as new York and Bob ever growing concerns we went out she Fort Campbell. In Kentucky where an item first airborne division was preparing to deploy. We saw some of their training that they went through. All the medical explanations that were there are getting and they were pretty confident this voter said you know what we've been in war zones. This sounds like a pretty easy deal compared to being an awards. But over time that those concerns kind of grew as we talked about it. Says exposures and Alice and year to happen and I think the press is the president and now secretary hail agreement hey maybe this is an extra step that's worth taking. Yes on the left new territory for this new disease ABC's Lee Martinez at the Pentagon thank you very much for joining us thanks. You can keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news app and starring this story for those exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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