According to a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby today concerning returning US military from West Africa, all personnel returning from Ebola response efforts in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone will be placed into a 21-day controlled monitoring regimen. The order was signed this morning by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Public domain image/Mondo Magic
Public domain image/Mondo Magic

Interestingly, the term “controlled monitoring” is not well defined and the term “quarantine” is noticeably absent in the statement. Quarantine is freely used in media reports though.

This order will apply to all military services that are contributing personnel to the fight against Ebola at its source.

The secretary has also directed that the Joint Chiefs develop, for his review within 15 days, a detailed implementation plan for how this controlled monitoring will be applied across the force that takes into account the size and scope of the logistics required for this effort.

In addition, the secretary directed that the Joint Chiefs conduct a review of this new regimen within 45 days from now. This review will offer a recommendation on whether or not such controlled monitoring should continue based on what we learn and observe from the initial waves of personnel returning from Operation United Assistance.

The secretary believes these initial steps are prudent given the large number of military personnel transiting from their home base and West Africa and the unique logistical demands and impact this deployment has on the force. The secretary’s highest priority is the safety and security of our men and women in uniform and their families.