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The Pentagon has now approved the use of 20 more military teams, for a total of 4,700 service members, to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency at COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved five such teams last week, but Friday, top Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, Austin authorized the extra 20 teams to support FEMA’s efforts both at vaccination mega-sites and at smaller locations, reports The Hill.
The 20 additional teams will include 10 teams, of 222 personnel each, being sent to the large sites and 10 teams, of 139 service members each, to help at smaller sites. The teams will be largely made up of active-duty forces to be sent as “requirements evolve.”
Last week, the Pentagon announced it authorized an initial 1,100 active duty service members to help FEMA at five state sites, but only one has been announced and deployed. The team, from Fort Carson, Colorado, has arrived in Los Angeles to support a mega-site there, and Kirby said the troops there expect to be in operation Monday.
He said the Pentagon will have information soon about where the other four teams initially announced will be sent, but the matter requires the coordination of state and local authorities.
The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, have been discussing over the past few weeks how the military will be able to help the agency meet President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 1.5 million people a day. Solutions under discussion have included sending up to 100 teams of active-duty and National Guard forces, totaling up to 10,000 troops.
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