On Friday President Donald Trump signed an executive order that authorizes the Pentagon to bring back former troops as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus crisis. This includes members of the National Guard and Ready Reserve members, that could be activated to duty if needed to combat the growing coronavirus epidemic.

Pentagon Statement

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Friday: “Today the President signed an Executive Order authorizing Secretary Esper to order units and individual members in the National Guard and Reserves and certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty to augment forces for the effective response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

President Trump Statement

President Trump said Friday at the White House press conference: “This will allow us to mobilize medical disaster emergency response personnel to help wage our battle against the virus. We have a lot of people, retirees, great military people, they’re coming back in,”

What it means  
  • Pentagon said overall members called up will be those in headquarters units and those with high demand medical capabilities.  The Pentagon noted it would not adversely affect their local communities.
  • Those that are called up could serve for up to two years if necessary.
  • According to the executive order roughly one million members can be activated.
  • The Pentagon and White House are still reviewing decisions about who may be called up.
  • So far, the Defense Department has not released any projected number of activations.
  • Trump’s executive order gives the Pentagon the authorization to make the activations.
What troops have already been activated?
  • Trump activated the National Guard in New York, Washington and California.
  • More than 200 U.S. Army soldiers deployed to New York Thursday. They provide a “full range of health care services,” according to the Pentagon. New York currently has the most coronavirus cases in the country.