Congress urges Trump to mobilize military for COVID-19 efforts

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Posted on Apr 07 2020
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A shipment of medical Personal Protective Equipment is received from the Strategic National Stockpile to be sorted and distributed throughout Hawaii, the CNMI, Guam, and American Samoa. FEMA works with the state of Hawaii, CNMI, Guam, and American Samoa to distribute PPE to areas battling care for coronavirus patients. (GRACE SIMONEAU/FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY)

Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) has joined 56 bipartisan members of U.S. Congress to urge U.S. President Donald J. Trump to mobilize the U.S. Department of Defense to be the “backbone” of federal logistical efforts, particularly in providing relief, in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“The U.S. military has sophisticated logistical expertise that can effectively transport and coordinate supplies on a global scale. We should leverage our military’s unique capabilities to help America fight the coronavirus,” Sablan stated.

In a letter to Trump, the legislators urged the President to direct the Defense Department, with the belief that the armed forces can provide resource expertise, and the organization at scale to provide much-needed relief all over the United States,

According to Sablan, they specifically asked the President to provide U.S. military airlift capabilities to help resolve supply chain shortfalls, deploy the Defense Logistics Agency to coordinate supply distribution, and mobilize military health care personnel to fill gaps, especially for urgent services like testing.

The members of Congress cited the military’s history in providing rapid air cargo operations, such as during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and its “significant airlift capacity, especially with the C-5s and C-17s” operated by the Air Force, as a push for the military to implement a Coronavirus Airlift.

The legislators, in asking Trump to deploy the Defense Logistics Agency, stated that the DLA is uniquely organized to effectively and efficiently handle logistical missions nationally and globally.

“During the Ebola outbreak, DLA leveraged the distribution centers it operates around the world, as well as the regional relationships it has developed, to bring supplies into areas of high need. This kind of coordination is in dire need here at home,” the lawmakers’ letter said.

They also asked the President to mobilize military health care personnel to help the public health agencies’ effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Last Saturday, critical medical supplies and equipment were shipped by the Department of Defense, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, via the US Air Force C17 Globemaster aircraft, primarily at the request of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.

Included in the governor’s request were a makeshift hospital with beds, medical equipment and capabilities, lab testing capabilities with BioFire Test Kits, and airlifts to bring in Viral Transport Media and other medical supplies and equipment.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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