What should be the role of the military in pandemics?


America’s Best and Brightest

by Mustang

I recently read a post at War on the Rocks authored by retired Lieutenant General David W. Barno, U. S. Army and Dr. Nora Bensahel.  In their article, they argue that at the end of the present “pandemic,” the American people will come to the realization that the Department of Defense didn’t save them from the virus.  They criticize the Defense Department for focusing too much on external threats to our security, and not enough on protecting Americans from this “deadly and life-changing threat.”  One can follow the link (above) to read the article and form their own conclusions.

I hate to be the one to say this, but our best and brightest are in reality mediocre and somewhat dim.

Here are my conclusions:

  1. The COVID-19 event is not unprecedented.  We may be “early” into the infection, but perhaps now is an appropriate time for some reality.  In 2019-2020, the seasonal influenza infected fifteen million people.  Of those, 650,000 died.  This statistic reflects a mortality rate of .0433 percent.  This is the annual average for deaths due to influenza.  So far in 2019-2020, there have been 683,000 cases of infection, of which 32,144 have died.  The mortality rate (so far) is .04706%.  This would certainly matter to someone who was infected with COVID-19 and “at risk,” but statistically, COVID-19 would seem less than unprecedented.
  2. Among “at risk” persons (world-wide), the chances of dying from COVID-19 in age groups 50-59 is 1.3%, 60-69 3.6%, 70-79 8%, and above the age of 80, 14.8%.  There are 7.8 billion people in the world.  Three million of these are 80 or more years of age.  Globally, 450,000 people in the highest “at risk” category could (not necessarily will) die from COVID-19.  Hardly the worst of our plagues.  One third of the entire population of Europe died from the black plague over a couple of hundred years.

I do agree with General Barno and Dr. Bensahel that the infection has had and will continue to have a deleterious impact on the US economy, but this is not the fault of the disease.  It is the fault of a government of reactionaries who have made things worse for the American people, not better.

But what floors me (and this may be the result of my lack of medical training) is that Barno and Bensahel argue that we ought to somehow prepare for nation-wide medical emergencies from unknown diseases.  We can do that, they argue, by “investing in ways to help prevent another public health emergency.”

Admittedly, I have a negative reaction to such phrases as “investing in ways …”.  What that means, as a practical matter, is increased taxes that Congress can waste at their leisure.  The authors emphasize, “At a minimum, that will involve expensive measures to revamp emergency pandemic preparedness and to stockpile costly but critical medical equipment, such as ventilators and mobile hospitals.  It will probably also include initiatives to provide free diagnostic testing and guaranteed paid sick leave during pandemics …”

So, my question for those who may be in the know, how is this accomplished?  What I recall from my days on active duty (decades ago) was that we stockpiled MOPP-4 suits so that we’d have them when or if we had to respond to NBC emergencies.

Note: MOPP stands for Mission Oriented Protective Posture, the numerical designation “4” represents total protection.  NBC means nuclear, biological, and chemical agents.  Well, so we suddenly needed our protective gear for operations in Iraq and pulled them out of depot storage.  What we found is that 80% of this high dollar equipment had dry rotted while in storage.  They weren’t worth a plug nickel.  Is this what we have in mind for critical ventilators and tentage for mobile hospitals?  Really?

Where does Barno and Bensahel suggest?  Why, shrinking the defense budget, of course.  I’m think that General Barno must be one of those Obama Era flag officers who learned early how to become a “yes man.”  When we run out of medical people, when there aren’t sufficient numbers of first responders to domestic emergencies, who do we turn to in order to save a panicked society from itself?

I’ll only point out that it is a United States Navy Ship sitting in New York Harbor at the present time taking care of New Yorkers because Governor Cuomo closed sixteen hospitals and cut Medicaid entitlements to his citizens and sanctuary city beneficiaries.

Now you know my opinions … what are yours?

19 Responses to “What should be the role of the military in pandemics?”

  1. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    “What should be the role of the military in pandemics?”
    Quarantine the media.
    Quarantine might be a euphemism.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. peter3nj Says:

    Off Topic:
    Watching MSDNC interviewing that pimple on he nation’s ass Nanacy Pelosi. This human waste has all the answers as she buries Trump once more.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mustang.Koji Says:

    Don’t get me started, sir… 🙂

    I am of the strong belief this #ChineseVirus is a bioweapon that either leaked out of that biolab in Wuhan. That’s why Xi and China have been lying to the world. So now, we’re under attack.

    I hear you on rotted bio suits from the Vietnam War. Do we do it again? Make as many ventilators as we can? If they never get used, what happens to the silicone or plastic parts three decades from now? Oh, I forgot. Some will be made by GM and therefore will likely get recalled.

    But this unprecedented $2T stimulus pkg with Pelosi pork does have needed benefit for elderly/seniors and hourly workers. On the other hand, when Dem FDR tried to get us out of the Depression, his New Deal was enacted. Like now, it may have helped those starving and in need, but it prolonged the Depression until WWII started… a war he helped start.

    I support my President 100% as you know. He is caught in between a rock and a hard spot due to the stupidity of many Dems (like those supporting Waters, Pelosi or Feinstein): in spite of the social distancing guidelones he issued, these buddoons still get together in groups of over three dozen requiring police to arrive by the dozen to break them up (thereby also in danger), a dumb woman who just walked around inside a discount store in Stockton just touching everything even asked not to, etc. While I “feel” this pandemic will take its toll (I may be one), evidence tends to support hysteria is being manufactured by FakeNews and Democrats… So if our President doesn’t take “action” and say 100k people die from this “flu”, it gives Pelosi another chance to take down our President: it was all his fault for not making MOPP-4 suits.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mustang Says:

      I think the issues are far more serious than Dem’s giving the proverbial shaft to Trump. They’ll do that no matter what he does, or even how effective he is in doing it. The problem with stimulus packages … as I see it … is that they are bonds purchased by China who make their interest from American taxpayers so that in the long run, all the American people end up with is pain with no gain. Barno may be right to say that NOW is the time to begin talking about and planning for the next medical emergency, but he’s wrong … very wrong … to intimate that all we need to do is throw money at it.

      Idea: military medical corps have what we call “field hospitals.” They are fully contained, state of the art facilities, manned and operated by top quality physicians and surgeons and nurses. It is a practical concept that could be merged with county and local fire department/emergency medical management agencies, which if “practiced” often enough, could be one appropriate response to pandemic diseases and mass casualties. But what Barno is concentrating on is “guaranteed sick leave.” There is no utopia quite like socialism, is there?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Mustang.Koji Says:

        No, sir, there isn’t… and sorry for the typos. I did it on my dang phone that is a blut to these old eyes of mine.

        Why don’t they deploy these field hospitals? Perhaps NOT to treat those with the Chinese virus but everyday folks that should possibly avoid hospitals infiltrated with bazillion little viruses?

        Liked by 5 people

      • Mustang Says:

        Your question is worthy of further discussion, Koji-San.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. markone1blog Says:

    If even those of us who (like my dad) are military-grade and can comprehend the need for social distancing, why do Democrats like Lina Hidalgo hold political rallies and do not enforce social distancing nor do they limit their groups to 10? (Refer to the photos at the bottom of this post.)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. peter3nj Says:

    Sorry Mustang but their is no room for either common sense or the truth in this discussion. They are as welcome as is The Golden Rule being posted in any government building. But we can find comfort in knowing the portraits of Jesse Jackson and Barry Obama have replaced those of Washington and Lincoln in our public schools.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. kidme37 Says:

    We would be much better off teaching kids why socialism/communism Sucks. The rest will take care of itself.

    Liked by 5 people

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