Trump signs order authorizing Pentagon to call up former troops to help with coronavirus fight

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President Trump on Friday signed an executive order authorizing the Pentagon to bring back former troops, including members of the National Guard and Ready Reserve eserve members, to active duty as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus crisis.

"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," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

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The department said that, in general, the members called up will be those in headquarters units and those with high demand medical capabilities, who would not adversely affect their local communities by being called up. The order allows them to be called up for up to two years and up to a million can be called up.

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

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The Pentagon said that decisions about who may be called up are still being reviewed, and that there are as of yet not a projected number of activations. Trump’s executive order gives the Pentagon the authorization to make the activations, but does not specify who should be called up.

“The Department has been committed to using all our capabilities to confront the coronavirus outbreak, and the President's action today ensures that we can bring select members of the Reserves and National Guard to the fight where needed most,” the statement said.

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This week Trump activated the National Guard in New York, Washington and California -- states that have been hardest hit by the virus that has caused havoc across the country and shuttered much of daily life.

On Thursday, more than 200 U.S. Army soldiers were deployed to New York to provide a “full range of health care services” to the state fighting the most coronavirus cases in the country.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.