DO NOT SEND OUR TROOPS TO AFRICA
We the People, believe it is NOT in the best interest of our Nation, to send our troops to Africa.
NORFOLK -- Thousands of U.S. troops may be living in tent cities in Liberia and supporting the fight against Ebola for "about a year" or until the deadly outbreak appears to be under control, the top military commander in Africa said Oct. 7.
"This is not a small effort and it's not a short period of time," Army Gen. David Rodriguez, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, told reporters at the Pentagon.
About 350 U.S. troops are now in West Africa and total deployments may reach 4,000 during the next several weeks.
Hampton Roads military personnel are joining the battle. Langley Air Force Base has already sent 34 medics from the 633rd Medical Group to Monrovia, Liberia.
Their mission as part of a Global Response Force is to set up a 25-bed expeditionary medical support (EMEDS) hospital, and turn it over to the United States Public Health Service to treat Ebola patients. The group was notified of its orders on September 21st, and they were on the ground in Liberia on the 26th.
"We train for combat, but there's a special satisfaction you get from a humanitarian mission, and they're excited about this," said Col. Wayne Pritt, commander, 633rd Medical Group. "It was extremely prideful. I can tell you the folks here train for this sort of thing These airmen who trained for this mission were ready and excited to go down-range and go help the country of Liberia."
Army personnel in Hampton Roads are also getting involved. About 60 soldiers from the 53rd Movement Control Battalion at Fort Eustis are preparing to deploy to West Africa "shortly," reportedly within weeks.
Their mission will be to provide movement control of equipment and personnel within theater--in other words, making sure stuff and people get from point A to point B.
"We're honored to be a part of this mission," said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Baird, Commander of the 53rd Transportation Battalion. "The battalion has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. This is is going to be a little bit different mission, but it's still the same. And we're going to go over and make a difference for the people of Africa and world."
Baird said he's confident his soldiers will be safe.
"Obviously there is a concern associated with it, but the training we have gone through has prepared us well to prevent us from being infected with the disease," he said. "We don't expect to have any contact with the patients. Our mission is strictly logistics."
As far as length of the deployment, Baird was vague, saying only, "We'll stay as long as we're needed."
The size and scope of the mission has expanded from initial estimates in September, when officials said it would last about six months and require about 3,000 troops.
Pentagon officials emphasize that troops will not provide medical care or have direct contact with Ebola patients. The military mission is to support civilian health care efforts through construction of new facilities, providing logistics support and training locals in prevention methods.
Rodriguez said protocols for ensuring U.S. personnel do not contract the potentially deadly disease will include wearing gloves and masks but not complete full-body protective suits. They will wash their hands and feet multiple times a day.
And military health care team members will be taking their temperatures and asking them a series of questions every day to identify any troops who may show symptoms linked to Ebola, he said.
According to U.S. Africa Command commander Gen. David Rodriguez, Operation United Assistance, as this mission is being called, could last a year and cost $750 million.
"We're going to stay as long as we're needed, but not longer than we're needed," he said.