Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed a new policy Wednesday that requires US service members returning from Ebola-affected areas in West Africa to undergo 21-days of controlled, supervised monitoring, according to an Oct. 29 release. The new policy—a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff—is intended to provide a “safety valve” for the families of US troops participating in Operation United Assistance, said Hagel. The Joint Chiefs now have 15 days to “provide operational specifics” and 45 days to “review the new regimen,” states the release. A team of 20 USAF medical trainers arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, “to train non-US medical personnel as part of Operaiton United Assistance,” announced Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren on Wednesday. The airmen will train at the National Police Training Center in Monrovia, he added. Members of the 633rd Medical Group at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., recently returned from Liberia where they delivered and set up a modular medical treatment center. Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group are still in Senegal where they are facilitating the flow of supplies from the intermediate staging base at the Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Dakar into the affected region. Several USAF aircraft also have delivered supplies and humanitarian relief equipment to the region. (House Armed Services Committee Chairman’s statement on decision to monitor troops.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.