Amid the Defense Department’s vague explanations of the mission of U.S. troops deployed in West Africa, the mother of one soldier who already has done tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan is expressing outrage.
“I am constantly amazed at the myriad ways this government finds to put my military son’s life in danger,” Judy Turner told WND.
She explained simply the president is “exposing all of those soldiers to a potentially fatal disease.”
“They are not medical units; they are not trained medically,” she said. “They are not social workers. My son has said before that he’s not a peacekeeper and he’s not a medical missionary. He says he doesn’t want to be. So, why are doing this? What is the purpose? Tell me!”
The highly contagious and often fatal Ebola virus has claimed more than 4,000 lives in West Africa. Defense officials say the soldiers will be given protective gear. But Turner has some knowledge of such specialized clothing, having worked at a nuclear power plant.
“It was a process that I had to go through, and it took at least two people to help me go through putting on the protective gear for radiation. I know what that kind of process entails, and he’s never been taught that. We had to put on protective gear to cover every inch of skin. We had to put on special booties and we had to know how to put on all of that gear,” she explained.
“Are they going to train him? How much training is he going to get, and how much training are the other soldiers going to get? Are they going to double and triple glove? Are they going to require oxygen gear? And if so, how long is their supply going to last?” Turner said.
Turner also questions if there will be any rules of engagement if the soldiers deployed to Liberia encounter hostile activity.
“What if they end up having people shooting at them? Are they going to be allowed to shoot back? It’s just crazy. There are so many questions and no answers,” Turner said.
WND previously has reported the difficulty the Defense Department has had defining the Ebola mission.
The government has confirmed that an estimated 4,000 troops are being deployed. Defense officials have said the military will “support” the civilian-led response and construct a “command center,” treatment centers and training centers, even though private companies currently are hiring construction crews for various projects there.
As WND reported, Fluor Corp., a global construction company, will build temporary housing for U.S. troops in Liberia. Fluor does a variety of construction jobs and employs engineers, electricians and security personnel.
In exclusive interviews with WND, retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely condemned Obama’s decision to deploy troops to West Africa, arguing they could bring the virus to the United States or to other units.
Turner said the deployment decision is like Obama woke up at night and said: “‘Oh, I know, we’ll send the military. That’s what we’ll do.”
“He never consults anyone; he just makes these decisions with no input,” she charged.
Turner said her concerns were raised during her son’s most recent deployment to Afghanistan.
“It was in 2013. What were they doing there? What was their mission? They didn’t have a clear mission, and I didn’t understand why he was sent there again,” she said. “They couldn’t shoot back unless they could pinpoint the person who was shooting at them, because they weren’t supposed to hurt any of the civilians.”
She warned that administration decisions regarding previous U.S. military deployments have been vague.
“Is he going to be there long enough to turn over the country to a stable government and leave? Or will it be like Iraq?” Turner said. “He spent 2003-2004 in Iraq. Then he spent 2005-2006 in Iraq again.”
She said she “watched everything he did in Iraq be washed away.”
“He was in several places in Iraq. He was up north and he was up near the Syrian border. In everything, his mission was to hold it if they took it. If they didn’t have it, the mission was to do what was necessary to take it,” she said.
“All those lives that were spent and all of that money that was spent is gone. Now they’re sending soldiers over there again. But how can I trust the president with this mission?” she asked.
Turner said she understands her son chose a military career, she supported his choice, and that the military always has an inherent level of danger.
He first served as an enlisted soldier, in Operation Desert Shield. Then he went to college was commissioned when he graduated.
“He was in Iraq for two full years and he lost men under him. He lost his captain. He lost his best friend. It just seems to me like it was such a shame, like it was such a waste of those young men’s and women’s lives,” she said. “All of those cities and gains are gone. My son was in one place for months, now that’s gone. All of that ground he gained, all of that danger they put him in, that he faced 24/7, and all of the worrying as a mother is gone. It’s like it’s no big deal to this administration.”
Now there’s Liberia, she said, and Ebola.
Boykin said Obama “thinks like a community organizer who will jump into anything that might make him look good or that might serve his agenda.”
“This deployment to Liberia is abuse and demonstrates a level of contempt for the youth of America who have chosen to serve their nation under a leader who has never served and has been open about his contempt for the traditional values of the nation.”
American Center for Democracy Director Rachel Ehrenfeld believes the deployed personnel may contribute positively because the soldiers include “engineers to build treatment centers and medical personnel to train local workers and to oversee the prompt distribution of medical supplies.”
But she believes overall the Obama administration has had a detrimental impact on the military and the country’s standing in the world.
“Under Obama the U.S. has lost not only Iraq. It went from the only super-power to no power in the world. It is no secret that this president has severely undermined the U.S. military power,” Ehrenfeld said.
Boykin warned that as a result trust in the Obama White House is disappearing.
“The most sacred trust that any POTUS has is the trust that Americans place in him or her for the safety and welfare of their sons and daughters. A POTUS should never violate that trust by choosing war when other reasonable options exist or by squandering their blood in the interest of political considerations,” she said.
“The Obama administration does not seem to understand that sacred trust nor does this administration seem to think like a commander-in-chief who takes the welfare of his troops seriously.”