A new KFF brief answers key questions about potential U.S. military engagement in the domestic response to the novel coronavirus. With concerns that local response capabilities could become overwhelmed in the coming weeks, there have been increasing calls to have the U.S. military play a greater role in support of civilian response.
The U.S. military has significant capabilities in a range of areas that could be called upon in the domestic response to coronavirus — including communications, transportation, infrastructure, engineering, construction, and other technical and logistical areas. The military also has a reservoir of experienced scientists and medical professionals, stockpiles of medical supplies (such as masks and other personal protective equipment, and respirators), and military medical facilities.
However, not all military resources are available for civilian use, and not all are likely to be appropriate for civilian coronavirus response needs. U.S. law and military rules and regulations also place some restrictions on the kinds of activities that the military can engage in as part of a domestic response. The brief examines these and other important aspects of greater military engagement in coronavirus response in the U.S.