Sunday, October 5, 2014

More U.S. troops being sent to battle Ebola

Tom Vanden Brook and David Jackson, USA TODAY7:05 p.m. EDT October 3, 2014

(Photo: Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — As Obama administration officials sought to reassure Americans about efforts to contain Ebola in the wake of the first U.S. case, the military announced Friday that an additional 1,000 troops could be sent to West Africa to help fight the virus.

And that number could go higher than that, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

"I'm not going to put a floor or ceiling on this," Kirby said.

President Obama initially ordered 3,000 troops to West Africa to help build hospitals, labs and treatment centers and provide logistics help. They are not going to treat Ebola victims.

"We are not going to be in the treatment business," Kirby said.

The new deployment includes soldiers from Army posts around the country and include engineers, logistics and civil affairs experts and military police officers.

Troops will be constantly monitored during their deployment and screened for the disease when they return, Kirby said.

The Pentagon is developing a protocol for troops suspected of being exposed to the virus, Kirby said. They will be monitored "constantly" for 21 days.

"It's not a quarantine necessarily," Kirby said.

The soldiers will deploy later this month and could stay through November, according to an Army statement.

There are currently 231 U.S. troops in West Africa, most of them in Liberia.

The deployment announcement came as a hazardous-materials crew in Dallas decontaminated the Texas apartment where an Ebola patient stayed.