President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order authorizing the secretaries of homeland security and defense to call up military and Coast Guard reservists to active duty.
“This will allow us to mobilize medical disaster and emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus by activating thousands of experienced service members, including retirees,” Trump said at a Friday briefing of the COVID-19 task force.
Under the order, the two secretaries are authorized to order reservists from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard to active duty for up to two years “not to exceed 1,000,000 members on active duty at any one time.”
The announcement comes as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads in the United States, with more than 104,000 confirmed infections and over 1,700 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins.
“We have a lot of people, retirees, great military people, theyre coming back in,” Trump said, adding: “They dont say, How much? They dont say, What are we getting paid? They just want to come back in. Its really an incredible thing to see. Its beautiful.”
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement cited by Military Times that following the executive order, “decisions about which individuals may be activated are still being reviewed.”
Hoffman said the troops will mostly consist of units and personnel with high demand medical capabilities whose mobilization would not negatively impact their civilian communities.
“My administration is marshaling the full power of the American government, and we will do that, and thats what weve done, and we will continue to do it until our war is won. Economic, scientific, medical, military, and homeland security—all of this to vanquish the virus,” Trump said at Fridays briefing.
Earlier Friday, Army officials said over 9,000 former soldiers with medical training expressed interest in assisting with the COVID-19 response.