The Cable

DoD Sending Fewer Troops to Liberia to Battle Ebola

The military will scale back its Ebola operation in Liberia, citing recent success in stopping the spread of the disease as a second Ebola outbreak was detected in neighboring Mali. Speaking at the Pentagon Wednesday afternoon, Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said that the Defense Department will now dispatch 3,000, instead of the authorized 4,000, ...

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The military will scale back its Ebola operation in Liberia, citing recent success in stopping the spread of the disease as a second Ebola outbreak was detected in neighboring Mali.

Speaking at the Pentagon Wednesday afternoon, Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said that the Defense Department will now dispatch 3,000, instead of the authorized 4,000, troops to Liberia as part of the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Volesky said fewer troops were needed because contractors already in Liberia can lighten the Pentagon’s load. The 3,000 troops are expected arrive in Liberia by December.

"There is a lot of capacity here that we didn’t know about before," he said.

Next week, committees in both the House and Senate are expected to review President Barack Obama’s $6.18 billion domestic and international Ebola response plan. Obama’s request for additional billions to address the deadly disease combined with a new outbreak in Mali remind Americans that while Ebola on U.S. soil seems contained, West Africa’s epidemic, which could spread beyond the region, is not.

Mali had already stemmed an earlier outbreak. However, a 70-year-old grand imam, who contracted the virus in Guinea before traveling to Mali where he died on Oct. 27 is the source of another outbreak. AFP identified the man as Goika Sekou.

According to the World Health Organization, his body was washed at a large mosque before being returned to Guinea. The clinic in Mali where he was treated did not list Ebola as the cause of death. 

But later, a clinic nurse fell ill and died. The WHO also discovered that members of the imam’s family in Guinea were dying. Now, almost 80 people are under quarantine in an effort to stop the outbreak.

"Intensive ‘contact tracing’ is under way in both countries, with support from WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MSF [Doctors Without Borders], and other international partners," the WHO said in its report.

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