U.S. Troops Returning From Liberia To Be Quarantined At U.S. Base In Italy

The Pentagon has announced that U.S. troops returning from west Africa will be isolated for twenty-one days to monitor them for signs of Ebola:

U.S. soldiers returning from Liberia are being placed in isolation in Vicenza, Italy out of concern for the Ebola virus, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

The soldiers being monitored include Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams who was the commander of the U.S. Army in Africa but turned over duties to the 101st Airborne Division over the weekend, Martin reports. There are currently 11 soldiers in isolation.

They apparently were met by Carabinieri in full hazmat suits. If the policy remains in effect, everyone returning from Liberia – several hundred – will be placed in isolation for 21 days. Thirty are expected in today, Martin reports.

A Pentagon spokesman calls it “enhanced monitoring.” The soldiers are confined to a building and unable to see their families, Martin reports. The decision made by the Army and applies only to soldiers returning from Liberia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will decide whether to make isolation apply to members of all services returning from Liberia.

On the whole, this seems like a prudent step for the military to take given the fact that, unlike health care workers returning to the U.S., active duty soldiers wouldn’t necessarily be able to self-quarantine themselves upon return to the United States and could potentially expose fellow soldiers who were not in west Africa to the virus in the unlikely event that they happen to be infected. Additionally, the legal issues involved are quite different given the authority that the military as a whole can exercise over an active duty soldier, which is quite different from the authority that can be exercised over a private citizen. Hopefully, of course, none of the soldiers in question will become infected but, if the are, it seems best to identify them before they return to the states and get them appropriate care if necessary.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    Quite right, the Army does get to impose on your rights. It also gets to order you to do hazardous duty, so one suspects “volunteering” won’t be unduly affected, nor are the soldiers likely to hide the fact that they just returned from Liberia to avoid quarantine, which sounds like pretty light duty. I expect the Army will also maintain their pay and make sure their status with their employer, the Army, won’t be negatively affected.

    Do Carabinieri hazmat suits have funny hats?

  2. Grewgills says:

    The soldiers are confined to a building and unable to see their families

    That seems unnecessary. As long as they are asymptomatic visits should be allowed either outside or in a room set aside for visits.

  3. JKB says:

    Wait a minute. The soldiers were not given full protective gear, but rather only masks and gloves, because they were not going to interact with the population and therefore would not be exposed to the Ebola virus?

    What changed?

    Has the Commander in Chief lost control of the military that they would go against his policy of not restricting travelers from infected countries? And these soldiers have been under US supervision the whole time they were in the country so all their potential contact with the population is known?

  4. JKB says:

    And is the threat of Ebola so grave, these soldiers could not be returned to the US and there restricted to an isolated area of a CONUS base?

  5. lounsbury says:

    @JKB: Or perhaps logically, Italy is thousands of miles closer and logistically easier to handle, plus Italy, not one of your god-forsaken southern hell-holes.

    But you can ramp up the OMG Ebola piss in my knappies further if you like.