says U.S. troops on Liberia Ebola mission to top out at 3,000
Send a link to a friend
[November 13, 2014]
By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military
force being sent to Liberia to build treatment facilities to combat the
Ebola health crisis is expected to top out at about 3,000 troops in
December, 1,000 less than initially approved, the U.S. general leading
the effort said on Wednesday.
Army Major General Gary Volesky told a Pentagon telephone briefing
fewer U.S. troops were needed than initially expected because the
military had discovered greater local capacity for building
treatment centers in Liberia than it initially expected.
Volesky said decision had nothing to do with a recent drop in the
rate of increase in new Ebola cases.
"While there are some positive indications, there are new cases of
Ebola every single day here in Liberia," he said.
Ambassador Debra Malac, the U.S. envoy to Liberia, told the briefing
that while the rate of increase in Ebola cases was lower than
before, "we're not out of the woods by any stretch of the
"For the moment we need more treatment units, we need more personnel
to help treat patients. And so we still have a long way to go in
this fight," Malac said.
Volesky said the United States had about 2,200 U.S. troops currently
in Liberia, a number that would grow to nearly 3,000 next month. The
mission was initially authorized for up to 4,000.
"We will top out in the middle of December just short of 3,000, and
that's the most we'll bring into country," he said.
The U.S. military deployed forces to Liberia to support the
international Ebola response mission led by the U.S. Agency for
International Development. U.S. troops were assigned to build up to
17 Ebola treatment units and provide mobile testing labs.
[to top of second column]
"When the original request for forces was created, it was larger
than that, but what we found ... is there's a lot of capacity here
that we didn't know about before," Volesky said. "That enabled us to
reduce the forces that we thought we originally had to bring."
Bill Berger, a USAID disaster response team leader, said a number of
groups had stepped up to help with building the treatment
facilities, speeding the effort.
Volesky said two treatment units had opened and another three or
four would be finished by the end of the month, with the rest
expected to be done by the end of December.
(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by
Doina Chiacu and Eric Walsh)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.