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.

AD

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

AD

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.

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."

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."

"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.

AD
AD

"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."

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

Read more:

AD
AD