United States Cutting Planned Troop Presence in Liberia – Health Officials Urge Congress for Ebola Help
The commander of the U.S. military's Ebola response in Liberia says the mission will be limited to 3,000 troops — which is 1,000 fewer than originally planned.
Army Maj. Gen. Gary Voleski told reporters Wednesday that the lower number is sufficient because there are a greater-than-expected number of contractors available in Liberia to provide support like construction work.
Voleski, who is commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said there currently are 2,200 U.S. troops in Liberia. He said the total will top out at 3,000 by mid-December. The U.S. originally said it would deploy up to 4,000 troops.
U.S. health officials are telling Congress that they have trained 250,000 American nurses, doctors and other health workers on how to safely handle any Ebola patients who arrive in this country.
Beefing up the U.S. response is a key part of President Barack Obama's $6.2 billion emergency aid request to fight the disease in West Africa and guard against it at home. Lawmakers began considering the request Wednesday, with Republicans asking if the Obama administration has taken enough security measures.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the extra money is crucial to continue such steps as training, buying more protective equipment for health workers and especially stopping Ebola in West Africa.
She says officials believe "we have the right strategy in place both at home and abroad."