National News

Bragg soldiers to help with Ebola containment

Posted October 3, 2014 2:44 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2014 6:32 p.m. EDT

— Fort Bragg officials said Friday that about 120 soldiers from the post will deploy to Africa to help the Department of Defense effort to contain the Ebola virus.

The Defense Department says the military has begun medical testing at two new labs in Liberia. Service members are starting construction on two treatment centers there.

U.S. troops will also be responsible for engineering, logistics and medical support to the mission in West Africa, but at this point, officials said, service members will not be treating patients with Ebola.

The Fort Bragg soldiers could deploy by the middle of October. In the coming days, they will receive extensive training on Ebola – the troops are engineers and public affairs specialists, not health care professionals – to ensure their safety.

Soldiers also will deploy from Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Eustis, Va.; and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., for what the military is calling Operation United Assist.

Fort Bragg said more troops might be committed to the effort in the coming months.

The announcement comes as the clamor grows for the United States to ban travel from the West African countries where the virus is present.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis on Thursday called on the Obama administration ban visitors from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea until the outbreak is under control. The North Carolina House Speaker said it makes no sense to risk more cases of Ebola in the U.S. by allowing travel from those countries.

Earlier Thursday, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general said the United Nations believes air travel to and from the West African countries affected by the Ebola virus should continue.

Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday that "it's very important not to isolate these countries" as it would worsen their political and economic situations. He says aid groups need access to the region.