Thousands of American troops headed to Africa to fight… Ebola?

posted at 9:21 am on September 16, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Africa is rapidly becoming an environment rich in both targets and threats.

In Nigeria, the fundamentalist terror group Boko Haram has seized vast swaths of territory and declared the foundation of an African Islamic caliphate. The group known for kidnapping, killing, and enslaving children has embarked on a crusade to destroy the ancient Christian communities in the territory it controls and has imposed Sharia law on locals.

In Libya, the Islamist militias which arose after Gaddafi fell have captured the country’s capital. On Tuesday, new mysterious airstrikes were reportedly carried out against positions occupied by the Islamist militia, Libyan Dawn. The last time similar airstrikes were executed in Libya, they were revealed to be the work of the UAE and Egypt. Neither Abu Dhabi nor Cairo bothered to inform Washington of their plan to open hostilities in North Africa, and it is just as likely that these latest strikes came as a surprise to the administration, too.

And in sub-Saharan Africa, an outbreak of Ebola is rapidly becoming the worst of its kind in human history. Last week, the World Health Organization warned the epidemic is growing “exponentially” worse. Since December, over 3,700 people have been infected and there have been more than 2,200 deaths reportedly due to this disease. The United Nations predicts that there may be up to 20,000 confirmed cases of Ebola before the outbreak is contained.

Of these crises, guess which one the United States is committing 3,000 American Defense Department personnel to fight?

“Under pressure to do more to confront the Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, President Obama on Tuesday is to announce an expansion of military and medical resources to combat the spread of the deadly virus, administration officials said,” The New York Times reported.

The president will go beyond the 25-bed portable hospital that Pentagon officials said they would establish in Liberia, one of the three West African countries ravaged by the disease, officials said. Mr. Obama will offer to help President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia in the construction of as many as 17 Ebola treatment centers in the region, with about 1,700 treatment beds.

Officials said the military expected to send as many as 3,000 people to Africa to take charge of responding got the Ebola outbreak.

“The total cost of the program is estimated at $763 million over six months,” USA Today reported. “The administration has asked Congress for an additional $88 million for the anti-Ebola program, officials said. And the Department of Defense, which is heading up the program, has requested the re-programming of $500 million.”

This unprecedented outbreak requires an unprecedented response to combat, and it is commendable that the president is willing to commit resources to contain this epidemic. A rapidly mutating Ebola outbreak will not remain contained to Africa for long.

It is odd, however, that the president is so willing to commit American defense personnel to a non-combat operation with limited repercussions for America’s national security when there are so many conflicts on that continent and nearby which are far more pressing. Will Obama deliver a speech to the nation in which he carefully explains why committing nearly twice the number of troops to combat Ebola in Africa is a circumspect mission which is critical to American security, or will he simply order their deployment without a care to the politics of the matter? One suspects the latter will be the more likely outcome.


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Comments

Skwor on September 16, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Exactly! There is no military objective in this. This is to make a few people in Washington feel good about themselves, and kiss some UN azz.

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 2:58 PM

jesus there are some stupid people around.

military engineers are good at building levees/dams/etc.
this is not the same situation.
the only thing military can do to help prevent the spread is enforce quarantine.
this will involve massacring people who try to break the quarantine OR ignoring them and letting it spread.

how many times have you jumped into a MOPP suit and enforced a (mock) quarantine as I trained for?
MPs were trained to shoot to prevent the spread.

dmacleo on September 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

They are not listening, even worse is there are other, much more drastic, measures planned that are sure to offend most peoples sensibilities.

Skwor on September 16, 2014 at 2:59 PM

They are not listening, even worse is there are other, much more drastic, measures planned that are sure to offend most peoples sensibilities.

Skwor on September 16, 2014 at 2:59 PM

yup.
our service members are basically being sent over to do 1 of 2 things.
1 push paperwork and get sick.
2 enforce quarantine and do the killing that the leaders and military/police forces of the involved countries do not want to do. then our military can be called killers and we can funnel reparations to those countries.

dmacleo on September 16, 2014 at 3:02 PM

The military of those countries are not trained or equipped to put together an effective quarantine. Our military is trained for this kind of stuff. They are going to stop this from becoming a global crisis.

We are there because something like this could reach our shores very quickly and become unmanageable.

I say we start calling it the zombie virus an people will get the picture really quickly.
coolrepublica on September 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

There is actually a US military plan for this, here is a hint, it involves somthing called fission, is that really the solution you are advocating for? O.o

Military goals are designed around excess and highest acheivable chances for success whenevever possible, you activate a military option when all else goes to shiite. We should not be so quick to engage our forces for anything let alone questionable, non-military, objectives.

I am getting tired of certian people who have less than a child’s understanding about our military spouting off as if they know something.

Skwor on September 16, 2014 at 3:13 PM

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Yeah, I have family serving our country overseas, so no need to get salty. You want to dish a little sass while making your point, then whine when you get it right back. Lighten up, Frances.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Yeah, I have family serving our country overseas, so no need to get salty. You want to dish a little sass while making your point, then whine when you get it right back. Lighten up, Frances.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 3:19 PM

I didn’t whine. I accurately called that you hadn’t served given your attitude.

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Thousands of American troops headed to Africa to fight… Ebola?

Finally, POTUS has figured out a way to kill off Republicans and completely destroy our miltary.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on September 16, 2014 at 3:30 PM

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 3:24 PM

So, are we supporting the troops (I’m not convinced they’re the right tool for this particular job) and their mission, this time? Or is it that Dem “Support the troops, not their mission” thing? I’ll defer to all y’alls authority on this one, since I chose not to serve.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Remember the First Rule of Holes…

Akzed on September 16, 2014 at 3:51 PM

So, are we supporting the troops (I’m not convinced they’re the right tool for this particular job) and their mission, this time? Or is it that Dem “Support the troops, not their mission” thing? I’ll defer to all y’alls authority on this one, since I chose not to serve.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 3:32 PM

America’s job is to call into question the “mission” that puts troops in harm’s way for NO MILITARY objective, and no American objective.

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM

what a bunch of hate-filled a$$holes you all are.

now your obama hate has driven you so insane that you’re freaking out over a humanitarian response to a serious disease outbreak.

dear sweet jesus you guys are horrible people.

everdiso on September 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM

WTF, you are an idiot.

Send 3,000 people from the CDC, not troops. They are not trained in infection control.

You must be the kind of person who would go to a ferrier to have your hemorroidectomy.

txdoc on September 16, 2014 at 3:58 PM

melle1228 on September 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Thank you. I question the mission. May I please also wish our troops on this questionable mission Godspeed and wish for their safe and sound return?

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I was curious … exactly what will 3000 American troops do?

http://news.msn.com/us/us-to-assign-3000-from-us-military-to-fight-ebola

—Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.

—Erect 17 heath care facilities in Liberia of 100 beds each.

—Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts.

—Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.

—Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients.

=====

It doesn’t appear that we are going to be the ones enforcing quarantine and isolation. So far as I can tell the local armed forces already have enough men with guns to get that done.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/11/scientist-identified-ebola-quasi-military-intervention-peter-piot

What the US armed forces bring to the table is the ability to rapidly deploy a LOT of field hospitals in a hurry AND the ability to train locals as aid workers. We’re sending skilled specialists, not seventeen-year-olds with rifles.

Whether this is the best use of 3000 American troops or not is a question I’ll leave for others to debate. I am pretty certain, however, that deploying 3000 medical specialists and trainers against terror instead of against disease would do pretty much zip-all to counter Al Queda, ISIS, or that bunch.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that one possible factor in the President’s calculations is that , once the Ebola threat is contained, the Americans in question can pack up and go home. There doesn’t seem to be any need for a continuing operation beyond the end of his term as is likely to occur when he goes after ISIS.

pendell2 on September 16, 2014 at 4:05 PM

yup.
our service members are basically being sent over to do 1 of 2 things.
1 push paperwork and get sick.

dmacleo on September 16, 2014 at 3:02 PM

++++++++++

You know, if you wanted to make Ebola a serious threat in the US, sending 3000 troops to be exposed – and then of course, return them here for here for treatment… would be a pretty effective plan…

fabrexe on September 16, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Addendum: At first I thought those 17 hospitals would be Combat Support Hospitals

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_Support_Hospital

But this appears to not be the case. A fully staffed CSH has 256 bed and 624 personnel — that’s 10000+ soldiers for 17. By contrast, these hospitals are about half that size. I’ll defer to the active duty types for terminology, but are we sending cadre, medical officers only, and expecting the locals to fill in the rest of the slots? 3000 troops is awfully small to deploy 17 hospitals, and I suspect that is what the bulk of our personnel will be doing.

pendell2 on September 16, 2014 at 4:21 PM

We’re sending skilled specialists, not seventeen-year-olds with rifles.

Seventeen? OK.

That aside, do you think the military would send 3,000 non combat troops into an area known for violent attacks at hospitals and aid stations – alone?

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 4:21 PM

“That aside, do you think the military would send 3,000 non combat troops into an area known for violent attacks at hospitals and aid stations – alone?”

That’s a good question. How exactly are we enforcing security? As you say, there are more threats than just the virus. I wouldn’t put it past a well-armed criminal gang or a mob to raid one of those facilities, make off with all the medical supplies and equipment, then flog them on the black market.

pendell2 on September 16, 2014 at 4:27 PM

pendell2 on September 16, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Maybe macleod knows. IIRC, s/he is an mp.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Yes, and the world knows now that we pay ransom for soldiers, although if they aren’t technically in a war zone over there, that won’t stop someone from trying.

Also, we’re going to be sending personnel out door to door, and I hope we’re not going to rely on locals for security.

A big problem is their traditional of burial which spreads the disease even after the victim has died when loved ones get too close to the deceased, kiss the deceased, etc…

If foreigners stroll in and start gathering up the deceased for burial or cremation, people are going to go guano crazy. Engineers (from the Army Corps of Engineers) and medical personnel aren’t equipped for that.

They rioted in Guinea when health care workers tried to spray disinfectant in a market.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

How exactly are we enforcing security?

The reports are very vague, doesn’t mention which branches are represented.

Connecting the dots from this article from 6 weeks ago, probably heavily Army (ironically in Navy Times), and there have been an unknown number of soldiers already over there….

http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140801/NEWS08/308010074/DoD-may-send-personnel-Africa-help-fight-Ebola-epidemic

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 4:48 PM

I am guessing that O’Bumbler will put together an international coalition made up mainly of African nations, since this is a regional problem. I believe that we shouldn’t have any boots on the ground for this, other countries can take care of that, especially the African nations, since this is really their problem. We can just fly over and drop syringes of medicine from aircraft. And we shouldn’t lead the effort. Let me be clear this is not a war on Ebola, it is a Counter Common Cold Operation.

Sven on September 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

A big problem is their traditional of burial which spreads the disease even after the victim has died when loved ones get too close to the deceased, kiss the deceased, etc…

If foreigners stroll in and start gathering up the deceased for burial or cremation, people are going to go guano crazy. Engineers (from the Army Corps of Engineers) and medical personnel aren’t equipped for that.

They rioted in Guinea when health care workers tried to spray disinfectant in a market.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Is this so different from our traditions? I’ve seen people touch the hands or foreheads of the deceased, or kiss the deceased on the lips or the forehead, or hug the body, at viewings before funerals. My son was sick this weekend and I held him all weekend, kissed his forehead before reaching for the thermometer, and cleaned up his puke without gloves on. These are normal things for people to do for people they care about, not just “their tradition”

I’m not arguing that it doesn’t spread the disease, though. You are right that that is a problem…but it isn’t just “them”.

cptacek on September 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Whether this is the best use of 3000 American troops or not is a question I’ll leave for others to debate. I am pretty certain, however, that deploying 3000 medical specialists and trainers against terror instead of against disease would do pretty much zip-all to counter Al Queda, ISIS, or that bunch.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that one possible factor in the President’s calculations is that , once the Ebola threat is contained, the Americans in question can pack up and go home. There doesn’t seem to be any need for a continuing operation beyond the end of his term as is likely to occur when he goes after ISIS.

pendell2 on September 16, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Sooooo much short-sightedness.

coolrepublica on September 16, 2014 at 7:22 PM

No, no, no. coolrepublica was very clear. He wants the ebola victims eradicated like tv zombies. Flamethrowers ‘n stuff. Get it?

ElectricPhase on September 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM

You may not have understood what I was saying this morning, but I sure am glad to see that drudgereport GOT the same idea I had with his siren this afternoon.

Siren: WORLD WAR E.

Feel free to dismiss him as well.

coolrepublica on September 16, 2014 at 7:26 PM

https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller

Zeke Miller @ZekeJMiller · 3h

U.S. effort in Liberia will be commanded by Major General Darryl A. Williams bio: http://www.usaraf.army.mil/documents_pdf/BIOS/Williams.pdf

http://www.usaraf.army.mil/documents_pdf/BIOS/Williams.pdf

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 7:40 PM

everdiso on September 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Let’s send in the Peace Corps, DHHS, or CDC to fight ISIS. Makes about as much sense as sending military to fight Ebola.

petefrt on September 16, 2014 at 7:42 PM

I agree with some of the others. Why does it have to be our military that is sent to handle this? Why not CDC, NIH or some of the other organizations that dealing with disease outbreaks is their mission and job description.

Tinker on September 16, 2014 at 7:53 PM

https://twitter.com/toddzwillich

West Africa
2h
Dr. Kent Brantley tells Senate committee the world basically ignored Ebola in West Africa until he and another Western aid worker were infected – @toddzwillich
see original on twitter.com
===========================

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 2h

The Senate has heard the “run into the burning building” metaphor today in reference to both #ISIS and Ebola.

Replied to 0 times

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 3h

Dr Kent Brantley: Ebola “a fire from the pit of hell” that could reduce entire nations “to ashes.”

Replied to 0 times

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 3h

Kent Brantley says the world basically ignored Ebola in W Africa until he and another Western aid worker were infected.

Replied to 0 times

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 3h

Dr Kent Brantley: Response to Ebola in W Africa has been “sluggish and unacceptably out of step with the scope…of the problem.”

Replied to 0 times

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 3h

NIH’s Fauci: Mutation making Ebola airborn or functionally more virulent: “Highly unlikely.”

Replied to 0 times

Todd Zwillich @toddzwillich · 3h

NIH’s Tony Fauci says he doesn’t believe Ebola is headed for a pandemic. Poor hlth infrastructure in W Africa not replicated here.

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 7:57 PM

CSPAN:

A Senate committee holds a hearing on Ebola.

September 16, 2014
West Africa Ebola Threat

Federal health officials and health workers testified at a joint hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the possible risk to the U.S.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?321494-1/hearing-ebola-threat-west-africa

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Did the entero 68-like virus enter Canada? Thought I saw something to that effect.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 8:09 PM

cptacek on September 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM

It’s not so much the tradition, it’s the fact that the tradition is no different for those who died from Ebola.

If someone had died from a communicable disease, they wouldn’t be lying in an open coffin at a wake.

If they were being treated in a hospital, they would be in isolation.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 8:22 PM

If someone had died from a communicable disease

A serious disease like Ebola…

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Without disinfectant, traditional burials, in which family members wash the body, can spread the disease.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-ebola-outbreak-so-bad-sierra-leone-emergency-quarantine-180952218/#Y62gMz34pR9BgdMJ.99

Plus, there is that, and burying their loved ones themselves.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 8:28 PM

It’s not so much the tradition, it’s the fact that the tradition is no different for those who died from Ebola.

If someone had died from a communicable disease, they wouldn’t be lying in an open coffin at a wake.

If they were being treated in a hospital, they would be in isolation.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Right. You are right, and in my original comment that was wiped out when the page auto-refreshed (thanks, Hotair!), I said if you don’t know that those traditions are harmful, you will persist in doing them. It would be awfully hard to not hold and hug my son if he had Ebola. I might even question if I cared if I got it or not so I could comfort him. Doubly so if I didn’t understand germs/disease transmission.

cptacek on September 16, 2014 at 8:38 PM

A lot of the blame for ebola’s spread is due to the backward, tribal, voodoo mentality on the continent of Detroit. Perhaps Americorps or Peace Corps volunteers could step forward, including some on this thread who believe this is an honorable mission. You first.

GreenEnergy on September 16, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Plus, there is that, and burying their loved ones themselves.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 8:28 PM

What would happen here? Cremation, I suppose. Are there any crematoriums that would be able to handle an infected body in the U.S.? I wouldn’t think too many, so would we be shipping bodies across the country to the few that could handle it (assuming there is one)?

cptacek on September 16, 2014 at 8:47 PM

What would happen here?

I don’t know. I’m sure they’d try to force cremation. Ebola is actually able to survive in a deceased person, but I don’t know for how long.

I know some people here might have a hard time with cremation. The article mentions disinfectant not being used on the bodies, so I assume there is a process to disinfect the body?

Liberia is trying to force people to cremate bodies, so that must be a safe option.

It would probably be tough finding a funeral home willing to take the body, probably a much greater expense for those that would (if embalming could be done safely). I imagine all sorts of red tape… I hope we don’t have to find out.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 9:21 PM

hard to not hold and hug my son if he had Ebola.

Yes, that would be hard, especially if they were in a hospital room, sealed off and scared, and you had to stand there in a protective suit…

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 9:22 PM

Well, I think I can see how funeral homes would react to Ebola cases. Not Ebola, but the reaction would be the same, I assume.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/final-fear-funeral-homes-refuse-victims-brain-disease-f8C11312131

Across the country, funeral homes and crematoriums are routinely refusing to accept the bodies of CJD patients out of fear of infection, despite health guidelines that say that — with standard precautions — embalming and burial is perfectly safe.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 9:27 PM

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Did the entero 68-like virus enter Canada? Thought I saw something to that effect.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Christien:

Enterovirus D68 outbreak 2014
Enterovirus D68 outbreak 2014

00:44
Officials: 3 cases of Enterovirus D68 confirmed in British Columbia – @CBCALerts

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/us-respiratory-illness-outbreak-2014/

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Across the country, funeral homes and crematoriums are routinely refusing to accept the bodies of CJD patients out of fear of infection, despite health guidelines that say that — with standard precautions — embalming and burial is perfectly safe.

reaganaut on September 16, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Might have something to do with the fact that the regulators have been anywhere from mentally deficient to outright insane over the past few generations.

LawfulGood on September 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

canopfor on September 16, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Ugh. That’s what I thought. Hope that very few will catch this “mystery” illness up there and that all make a full, speedy recovery.

Christien on September 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

Jeez… if Obama doesn’t fit the bill for either the Antichrist or The Manchurian [Meccan] Candidate, then Fate sure has a twisted sense of humor.

Wars, Plagues, Chaos, Division, Deceit.

Barack is a one man Ship of Fools, at best.

profitsbeard on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 AM

I’m betting it’s 3000 white guys from “fly-over” states. What are they going to do, besides contract the disease themselves and bring it home? Shoot all the sick people?

Idiot.

NoPain on September 17, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Isn’t it more important that the Redskins change their name first?

Galtian on September 17, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I do not trust this peznit to fight a war of any kind, including one against a disease. If he is so willing to engage in this mission let him send his children to do it.

http://blog.jonmcnaughton.com/send-troops-to-liberia-to-fight-ebola-i-dont-trust-him/

NOMOBO on September 17, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Jeez… if Obama doesn’t fit the bill for either the Antichrist or The Manchurian [Meccan] Candidate, then Fate sure has a twisted sense of humor.

Wars, Plagues, Chaos, Division, Deceit.

profitsbeard on September 17, 2014 at 3:46 AM

Personally I think God is deliberately giving us the stupidest, laziest man ever presented as a candidate, to be chosen by the stupidest, laziest segments of the populace, as about the most blatant showing He can give of just how badly our egalitarian ideals have gone off track.

LawfulGood on September 17, 2014 at 10:09 PM

3000 Canaries

Hammie on September 18, 2014 at 1:16 AM

You must be the kind of person who would go to a ferrier to have your hemorroidectomy.

I like it. Ferriers can rid the planet of everdiso.

Hammie on September 18, 2014 at 1:57 AM

Can we transplant the sick from Western Africa to the Islamic State?

Hammie on September 18, 2014 at 2:08 AM