Elsberry: Obama needs to reassess military priorities

Jade Elsberry

When you take a look at our military, you most likely envision them fighting for our country. They’re in uniform, maybe holding an M-16, fighting the enemy. Now try to imagine them trying to fight an epidemic.

This week, President Barack Obama decided that he would be sending 3,000 troops overseas to help stop the spreading Ebola virus. Ebola is passed along through direct contact of the bodily fluids from sick patients, which makes doctors and nurses very susceptible to this virus. So far, the outbreak has killed 2,200 people in five West African countries, according to Fox News Channel.

Maybe we should take a closer look at what helping out West Africa will really entail.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has called an emergency meeting Sept. 25 to discuss the virus that could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation.” The emergency meeting is with the Security Council, which is responsible for the international peace and security.

The Department of Defense has now asked Congress for $500 million to fund this endeavor. Keep in mind that this money could be used for other current issues the United States is facing such as trying to send troops home from Afghanistan. The Islamic State group is another problem that Obama seems to be putting off and not being forthright about how he wants to handle that matter. Also, America is still in debt from our ongoing war with Afghanistan, so donating that much money to someone else’s country may not even be feasible.

The $500 million is said to help with building 17 health care facilities, each of which will contain 100 beds, train 500 health care workers per week and provide at home health care kits to thousands of homes — 50,000 will be delivered to Liberia this week. Also in Liberia, a military command center will be set up.

Experts have noted that even 3,000 troops will not make a dent with all the help that they need. This means that this affair will be ongoing and that we will continue to send more troops over. The United Nations has stated that it will take about $1 billion to contain the Ebola outbreak. Concerns are also being raised that our military, which is already stretched thin, is being pulled away from crucial counterterrorism operations.

“This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it’s a potential threat to global security if these countries break down; if their economies break down and people panic,” Obama said, according to Fox News.

There’s no doubt that this Ebola outbreak is an emergency that should be taken care of and maybe even with our help. The confusing factor is why he is more concerned about another countries welfare more so than our own.

Obama has stated that he will not send troops into a combat mission on the ground to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq. He’s ignored other issues the past few years that most would consider needed immediate attention. Perhaps, if interest were shown in the United States and its security then we would feel more prepared and willing to help another nation.

With the costs, manpower and troop-vulnerability to this Ebola virus, the president should think of a new game plan.