Obama will send 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola
President Obama announced on Tuesday that he would send 3,000 military personnel to West Africa in an attempt to get the Ebola outbreak under control.
The president, who made the announcement at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, stressed that Americans would not be responsible for direct patient care, but rather organize and facilitate the response to the crisis that has now claimed almost 2500 lives.
"The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better," Obama said at the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"But, right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more," he added.
The U.S. plan, a dramatic expansion of Washington's initial response last week, won praise from the U.N. World Health Organization, aid workers and officials in West Africa. Experts said it was still not enough to contain the epidemic, which is rapidly spreading and has caused already-weak local public health systems to buckle under the strain of fighting it.
U.S. officials said the focus of the military deployment would be Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves that is the hardest hit of the countries affected by the crisis.
Obama's plan calls for sending 3,000 troops, including engineers and medical personnel; establishing a regional command and control center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, commanded by Major General Darryl Williams, who arrived there on Tuesday; and forming a staging area in Senegal to help distribute personnel and aid on the ground.
It also calls for building 17 treatment centers with 100 beds each; placing U.S. Public Health Service personnel in new field hospitals in Liberia; training thousands of healthcare workers for six months or longer; and creating an "air bridge" to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa more quickly.
The worst Ebola outbreak since the disease was identified in 1976 has already killed nearly 2,500 people and is threatening to spread elsewhere in Africa.
Obama said "the world is looking to us" to take the lead against Ebola, but urged other nations also to take action because the epidemic is "spiraling out of control" and "people are literally dying in the streets."
I don't think it matters much if US personnel treat infected patients or not. They are going to be at much greater risk than if they were at home. The operation will also take $500 million out of the defense budget at the time we are ramping up for fight ISIS.
The world may whine and complain about the US being arrogant, overbearing, and hateful. But when a major crisis threatens, the rest of the world doesn't call France or Russia. Wherever and whenever disaster strikes, the appeal for help goes to America because they know we won't refuse and because we have the best miltary in the world to respond to any crisis.
This Ebola outbreak could have been contained by any reasonably competent government if authorities had acted swiftly and deciisvely. But the corrupt governments of West Africa weren't up to the challenge and the WHO, which wasn't created to handle such a massive outbreak of disease, was ill-prepared.
The president is correct in his analysis:
Obama said that if the outbreak is not stopped now, hundreds of thousands of people may become infected, "with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us."
"This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security. It’s a potential threat to global security, if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic. That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease," Obama added.
Like it or not, we need the strategic metals that Africa supplies and our sizable exports to the continent would be at risk if the virus got loose in the rest of Africa. The collapse of several economies in Africa would almost certainly trigger a global financial crisis as well as a recession. This is a relatively small investment to make to protect us from the worst case scenario.