At Fort Campbell, Ky., James Knight of U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases trains soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) before their deployment to West Africa. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)

In mid-September, nearly six months into the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, President Obama formally announced that the U.S. military would lead the fight against the virus in West Africa.

"The reality is, this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better," Obama said Sept. 16. "But right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives."

The U.S. military is sending as many as 4,000 service members to West Africa, where they will provide medical, logistical and security support for what the Department of Defense has dubbed Operation United Assistance.

"Stopping the spread of this disease is the core mission here," Gen. David Rodriguez, chief of U.S. Africa Command, said last week.

Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday that the U.S. military effort to combat Ebola in West Africa would take "about a year," but that the timeline would depend on the spread of the virus and the scope of international participation. (AP)

As The Post's Checkpoint blog reported, the bulk of the military’s deployments will come from the Army.

Late last month, in Liberia's capital of Monrovia, U.S. Africa Command's Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams told reporters that the U.S. operation "is about urgency and speed," according to Reuters.

Among the first orders of business: building a 25-bed hospital for health-care workers who become infected with the deadly virus while working on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak. The modular hospital, known in military parlance as an expeditionary medical support system (EMED for short), is being constructed near the airport outside Monrovia.


Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams speaks to U.S. Navy Seabees on Oct. 9 at the hospital construction site. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Air Force personnel put up tents at the site of the 25-bed modular hospital Oct. 9. (John Moore/Getty Images)

U.S. Air Force personnel set up an air conditioning unit at the hospital site Oct. 8. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A U.S. Air Force airman pauses to re-hydrate Oct. 8 while constructing the modular hospital. (John Moore/Getty Images)

U.S. Air Force airmen disinfect their hands Oct. 8 after a day of work at the hospital construction site. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The U.S. military is also planning to build and supply 17 treatment units across the Ebola-ravaged country, according to Reuters. But, added Williams, the war on Ebola will be led by Liberia.

"The (Armed Forces of Liberia) has a great capability," Williams said. "They are already out there ... and helping us, because they have this knowledge of the local area. So we are not doing anything by ourselves."


Members of the Liberian Army work on an Ebola treatment center in Tubmanburg, Liberia, on Oct. 11. It is the first of 17 centers to be built nationwide with the U.S. military. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A Liberian soldier and his U.S. Marine mentor mark a landing zone Oct. 11 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Liberian Army and U.S. Marine engineers take cover from the downdraft of a Marine MS-22 Osprey  on Oct. 11 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A U.S. Air Force airman fences a construction site with barbed wire in Monrovia. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

But according to Voice of America, "local residents had mixed feelings about the military involvement as the first uniformed soldiers arrived here at the end of September."


A man in Liberia reads a newspaper, whose front-page headline Sept. 17 was about the U.S. deployment. (Abbas Dulleh/Associated Press)

"Well, seeing them is like sometimes happiness, sometimes not. I don’t know," Acostel Tmba, a local resident, told Voice of America. "I don’t know their real mission here.

"I overheard that they're here for them to fight the Ebola virus in this nation. So seeing them, sometime we’re pleased for us to see the U.S. Army in this country, for them to help to fight the Ebola virus."

In the United States, troops preparing for the mission have been training to properly put on and remove personal protective equipment for a new kind of war.

"I mean, it's nice that you're not worried about getting shot," Army Spec. Cody Adams, who served in Afghanistan, told public radio station WPLN during training at Fort Campbell, Ky. "But just — the threat is everywhere now."

Ebola, Army Sgt. Anthony Maddox told CBS News, is "just like a hostile combatant on the battlefield, it can kill you. But this one isn't so much ... you can't see it — you know it's there, but you can't see it."


Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division put on protective suits at Fort Campbell during training before their deployment to West Africa. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)

Another training exercise at Fort Campbell, on Oct. 9. (Stephen Lance/The Courier-Journal via Associated Press)

Sgt. Joel Miick, left, and Spec. Michael Potts don gas masks while training with the rest of the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Hood, Tex., on Oct. 9. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News via Associated Press)
Soldiers from the U.S. have arrived in the Liberian capital Monrovia to help fight the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. They are building a 25-bed Ebola isolation center for health-care workers infected with the disease. (Reuters)

[This post, originally published Sept. 29, has been updated.]

Read more:

U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa

If U.S. troops get Ebola in Africa, they’ll get treatment in the U.S.

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