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Up to 4,000 U.S. Troops Deploying for Ebola Fight

Operation United Assistance in West Africa, with more than 230 personnel on the ground conducting operations in support of the Joint Force Command and USAID, is about to get bigger, according to DOD Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Kirby said in a press briefing that two Ebola testing laboratories manned by personnel from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center are now fully operational and are capable of processing about 100 samples per day. They have already processed more than 30 samples.

“In addition to the 1,400 troops I announced on Tuesday, an additional 1,800 soldiers from the Army will be deployed from various installations, providing engineering, medical, civil affairs, aviation, and logistical support to this very important mission.”

He added that a hospital for infected medical personnel will open on Oct. 18, and construction of two treatment centers for other Ebola victims should be completed by the end of the month.

Liberia Ebola facility construction

Supporting the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and African partner nations, service members from U.S. Africa Command help facilitate the building of an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Liberia as part of Operation United Assistance, a humanitarian relief operation in Ebola-stricken West African nations. U.S. AFRICOM photo by Maj. Adrien Adams

“All these efforts are laying the groundwork for what will prove to be a significant increase in our troop presence and operational tempo on the ground in West Africa,” Kirby said. “We project that there could be nearly 4,000 troops deployed in support of this mission, but we’re obviously assessing the requirements on a daily basis. It may not go that high.

“In addition to the 1,400 troops I announced on Tuesday, an additional 1,800 soldiers from the Army will be deployed from various installations, providing engineering, medical, civil affairs, aviation, and logistical support to this very important mission.

“As we continue our support to the broader U.S. government response to the Ebola crisis,” Kirby said, “I want to emphasize that our operations remain focused on four lines of effort: command and control, logistics support, training, and engineering support.”

Ebola lab

U.S. team members work in a lab extracting samples to test for Ebola in a quarantine zone in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 26, 2014, during Operation United Assistance. United Assistance is a U.S. Africa Command-led operation to provide command and control, logistics, training and engineering support to the U.S. government’s efforts to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in West African nations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Peter Niles

Kirby said the personnel come from several different units across the country. They include both active duty and National Guard personnel.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history, affecting several countries in West Africa and including more than 15,000 cases estimated and almost 7,000 deaths from those cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“So … from Fort Campbell, about 1,100 soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 86th Combat Support Hospital, 44th Medical Brigade, and a military police company from Fort Carson. You’ll have about 160 soldiers from the 4th Engineer Battalion from Fort Bragg: approximately 120 soldiers who will be providing engineering and public affairs support. Ten soldiers from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Command out of Aberdeen. One hundred soldiers from Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, and Fort Eustis. They’ll be doing civil affairs, combat support, combat service support assistance. And there’s several hundred as well coming from Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, again, across mostly engineering and civil affairs capabilities.”

Ebola quarantine

Decontamination workers treat patients coming out of a quarantine zone in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 26, 2014. The workers were in the zone 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time as part of Operation United Assistance. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Peter Niles

More than 60 Kentucky Air National Guard airmen of the 123rd Contingency Response Group are also deploying to set up an aerial port in Senegal as a logistics hub. Personnel that had already deployed include U.S. Sailors with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history, affecting several countries in West Africa and including more than 15,000 estimated cases and almost 7,000 deaths from those cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.