WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Tuesday night that most American troops deployed to fight the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa will come home by the end of April, adding that the U.S. response to the crisis was successful.
“At the height of the epidemic, there were 2,800 DoD personnel deployed to West Africa. Given the success of the U.S. response to the crisis, the majority of DoD personnel in West Africa will now return home,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, in a statement. “Today, around 1,500 of them are already back to their duty stations and nearly all will return by April 30. All have or will undergo established controlled monitoring procedures.”
The announcement comes on the same day that the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a recent spike in the number of lives claimed by the deadly diseases and new Ebola cases.
“Good progress is being made, but the outbreak still represents a grave threat,” David Nabarro, the United Nations special envoy on Ebola, reportedly said on Tuesday. “And we really hope that there will be no complacency in anybody involved in the response. We have to really work hard to get zero cases, zero transmissions.”
Kirby revealed that the U.S. plans to maintain 100 troops in West Africa in support of the 10,000 civilian responders who are still there fighting to prevent future outbreaks.
The U.S. military has spent an estimated $400 million on its efforts to contain the disease in West Africa.
President Obama deployed the U.S. military to West Africa last September to support international efforts to contain the Ebola virus.
“Just 10 months since the first U.S. government personnel deployed, we have delivered extraordinary results,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah.
He added that Ebola cases were down 80 percent.
“While careful not to declare the crisis over, the White House touted declining Ebola cases as a sign that U.S. and global efforts had paid off,” reports The Associated Press. “Officials said the U.S. helped build 15 Ebola treatment units, trained more than 1,500 health workers and coaxed the world community into contributing more than $2 billion to Ebola efforts.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a rise in the number of Ebola-related deaths to 9,162.
New cases in Liberia (136), Sierra Leone (113), and Guinea (54) have increased by at least 303, according to the WHO.
“Over the past several months, the Department of Defense delivered critical life-saving resources, constructed Ebola Treatment Units, trained hundreds of local and international healthcare workers, and provided logistical support to humanitarian and public health workers who provided care throughout West Africa,” explained Kirby.
“DoD will identify 100 personnel who will maintain a continued presence in the region working to strengthen the disease preparedness and surveillance capacity of the national governments,” added the Pentagon spokesman. “DoD personnel will build on a strong military partnership with the Armed Forces of Liberia to enhance their Ebola response efforts and provide disaster response training to the Government of Liberia.”
On Wednesday, President Obama was expected to announce the withdrawal of U.S. troops from West Africa and declare the estimated $400 million U.S. effort to contain the historic Ebola outbreak successful.
“We are on a path to zero,” an anonymous defense official told The Wall Street Journal.
“We got a handle on Ebola a lot quicker than anyone expected,” added the official.