LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of promised American forces will be moving into Africa over the next 30 days to set up facilities and form training teams to help the Africans treat Ebola victims, the Army’s top officer said Friday.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said the disease has accelerated faster than initially thought, so the U.S. needs to get people on the ground and ramp up numbers quickly. President Barack Obama has pledged 3,000 troops, and the U.S. military commander and a small team has arrived in Liberia to do initial assessments.
Before troops are sent in, Odierno says, the Army needs to make sure they are prepared to operate in that environment, which includes health care safety. The military units expected to deploy have not been identified.
Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, the U.S. Army-Africa commander, arrived in Monrovia on Wednesday with a 12-person assessment team, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary. They are conducting site surveys and other planning needed to construct treatment facilities there.
Kirby added that some equipment has already arrived, including a forklift and generator, and two more aircraft are expected this weekend with 45 more military troops.
The Defense Department has requested up to $1 billion for Ebola response efforts.
Kirby said U.S. troops will not be involved in the direct treatment of patients.
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