OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: National Guard to fight Ebola in Africa?

THE TOPLINE: President Obama on Thursday authorized the Pentagon to call up members of the National Guard to help combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa. 

The Pentagon is likely to tap a team of engineers and logistical specialists from both active duty and reserves to help with the construction of 17 Ebola hospitals across Liberia, according to a report from NBC News. Each medical center is to be equipped with 100 beds.

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The administration had previously announced plans to deploy up to 4,000 military personnel to the region to help fight the deadly virus.

Obama has also said the military plans to create "an air bridge" to get health workers and medical supplies to West Africa faster, and a training site could be built for military doctors and nurses to instruct thousands of African aid workers.

Pressure on the administration to combat Ebola has intensified in recent days after a second nurse in the U.S. was diagnosed with the deadly virus.

growing list of lawmakers are pressuring the president to ban flights to and from West African nations afflicted by the Ebola outbreak.

Administration officials have resisted a flight ban thus far, arguing it would make it harder to deliver relief supplies to the countries, where the virus is running rampant.

"Isolating these countries is not the way to address the epidemic. We need to be able to get people and resources and supplies in," said U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Debra Malac Thursday during a Pentagon briefing. 

"It has been quite challenging over the last several months, because there have been a reduction in commercial flights, because there is a reduction in shipping that comes into the country," she said. 

She added that it is "very difficult to get things like food as well as supplies in that are critically needed in order to help address this epidemic.”

 

US TO STAFF EBOLA HOSPITAL: Sixty-five uniformed U.S. personnel will be staffing a 25-bed hospital in Monrovia to directly treat Liberian healthcare workers who become infected with the Ebola virus.

"They will actually be involved in the care and feeding of health care workers who have been infected with the Ebola virus," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Operation United Assistance Joint Force, the U.S. response to Ebola in Africa, at a Pentagon briefing Thursday.

Although they are uniformed personnel, the unit members are not “troops” because they serve under the U.S. Public Health Service, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has repeatedly said that with the exception of several dozen highly skilled troops who will man mobile testing laboratories in Liberia and could handle Ebola samples, no military personnel would come into contact with Ebola patients.

"I want to emphasize again that no U.S. military personnel will be providing direct patient care to the local population," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby reiterated Thursday at a briefing.

 

‘ACCELERATION’ IN ISIS RECRUITMENT: The chief U.S. Army commander in Europe is warning of an “acceleration” in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's recruiting of western-passport holders.

“We see recruiting kind of accelerating,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said at a breakfast Thursday. “It's a concern. ... We've seen it all the way throughout Europe and [it's] impossible to track every single person where they are.”

He said the movement of European jihadists into and out of Syria is “one of the largest threats in Europe that we see from the spillover” of that country's civil war.

It's estimated that several thousand foreign fighters from Europe have joined ISIS to fight in Syria and Iraq.

The two-star general said the Army has increased security measures in some places because of potential terrorist threats in Europe.

“We understand there is a possibility of lone wolf attacks — as you know somebody could just take advantage of an opportunity.

“It's not going to destabilize Europe but it's a real threat to protection of our citizens in these nations, and also forces deployed to these countries,” Piatt said of possible attacks.

 

NATIONAL SECURITY ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Less than three weeks from Election Day, candidates from both parties are turning to national security issues in campaign ads.

In Alaska, Republican Senate hopeful Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanExclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault MORE is out with a spot featuring former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice touting his national security credentials.

"Our nation and the world face serious threats to our security. And who we send to Washington really matters,” says Rice.

She adds that Sullivan’s “extensive national security experience will make our country better."

Recent polls show Sullivan, a Marine veteran who served during the Bush administration, leading incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

“These are challenging times. America needs Dan Sullivan,” Rice states.

Meanwhile in Colorado, the retired Air Force general hoping to unseat Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) has a new ad claiming the incumbent missed almost 60 percent of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s meetings.

"In the Air Force, when you're absent without leave, you get arrested," says retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Irv Halter (D), in the ad. "In Washington, they play by different rules.”

He adds that Lamborn “blamed others for veterans not getting the healthcare they earned,” referencing the scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department over falsified wait times and delayed care for patients.

“President Obama failed his duty, but Congressman Lamborn didn’t even show up,” says Halter.

Lamborn’s campaign shrugged off the new ad.

"Congress isn't elementary school and this isn't about attendance, it's about results. Congressman Lamborn has a strong record of achievement for the veterans in the Fifth Congressional District," campaign spokesman Jarred Rego said in a statement.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

— Service member in Texas being watched for Ebola symptoms

— FBI chief: No concern about terrorists using Ebola

— Government asks for Guantanamo tapes to be withheld

— Treasury announces new Syria sanctions

 

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