Some sources are claiming that the U.S. soldiers being sent to Liberia to help stop the spread of Ebola are only getting 4 hours of training. This number seemed to originate with The Daily Beast, which stated: “Soldiers preparing for deployment to West Africa are given just four hours of Ebola-related training before leaving to combat the epidemic.”
Other sources like Newsmax or The American Thinker are quoting the Daily Beast.
At the same time, Slate is claiming that they get two weeks of training.
Slate: “They undertook a two-week, 14-session course to prepare specifically for Ebola, beginning with lessons on what it is, how it’s spread, and what its symptoms are.” Slate also states, “Refresher courses will be given throughout the mission.”
The UK Daily Mail claims the soldiers only get 4 hours of training, but adds a word to describe it: “hazmat.”
“U.S. soldiers are being flown to West Africa to combat Ebola following just four hours of hazmat training…”
Does this mean the 4 hours refers to hazmat-only training?
Most publications agree that there are between 500 and 600 American troops on the ground in the West African region now. However, some sources state that “at least 700 members of the division will deploy” soon.
USA Today (from October 17th): “There are 547 U.S. troops there, primarily in Liberia though some are in Senegal, according to the Pentagon.
USA Today (from October 9th): “At least 700 members of the division will deploy to Liberia starting next week as part of the U.S. military’s 4,000-soldier humanitarian mission, which is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
The Daily Mail: “So far, there are 547 U.S. troops in West Africa, serving in Senegal and Liberia, where they have reportedly been holing up in improvised quarters in hotels and local government facilities.”
The Daily Beast: “There are just over 500 military service members in West Africa, serving in Senegal and Liberia.”
Slate: “The American operation is the largest military foreign aid effort in the region to fight Ebola: Congress has so far approved $750 million for the mission, and about 600 military personnel are already on the ground.”
The total number of troops to be sent seems to vary from 3000 to 4000.
Slate: “Some 3,500 to 4,000 American troops are being deployed to Liberia to help efforts to quell the Ebola outbreak devastating the region.”
The UK Daily Mail: “Yesterday, it was reported that the U.S. Army is preparing to provide as many as 3,000 troops to help combat the Ebola epidemic.”
USA today gives a number of 4000 total troops: “At least 700 members of the division will deploy to Liberia starting next week as part of the U.S. military’s 4,000-soldier humanitarian mission, which is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
There seems to be a general consensus on the mission:
Again, USA Today states that the mission “…is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
Stars and Stripes states the same thing.
The Daily Beast: “A major part of their mission is logistics and construction: The U.S. military is building a 25-bed hospital and 17 Ebola treatment units, as well as training health-care providers in Liberia.”
The Uk Daily Mail: “This is while the military builds a 25-bed hospital, ‘life support areas’ and 17 treatment centers in Liberia, where they can train local professionals to care for and conduct tests on potential victims.”
How exposed will the troops be to the virus?
The UK Daily Mail:
“Despite the trainers’ apparent shock tactics, the Army maintains that the risk of soldiers contracting the virus is minimal because it is airborne and they will not have contact with sick patients.
‘It’s been shown that this disease is most manifest when handling bodily fluid—blood, other sorts of fluids, said Major General Darryl Williams, who leads America’s operations center in Liberia.
“‘There is no plan right now for U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to do that’.”
“The soldiers, with specialties in areas such as combat hospitals, aviation, logistics, transportation and engineering, will not be providing direct treatment or having contact with Ebola patients, so the risk is considered to be low, said Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, the 101st Airborne’s spokesman.
“But at Thursday’s safety training, soldiers were briefed on how Ebola is spread and what symptoms to look for. They were told to seek medical care at the first sign of trouble and not to shake hands or touch residents. They were told not to eat or drink anything that wasn’t provided by the U.S. government.”
According to Slate:
“Though troops are prepared to suit up to keep them from contracting Ebola, the scope of the military operation is intended to limit their direct interaction with patients. Their mission is to help build infrastructure and care facilities and to work with public health organizations on transportation. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, and the Liberian government are taking on more of the responsibilities of training local communities and public health workers and testing, isolating, and treating patients.”
The Daily Beast:
“The first 500 American troops in Liberia are so far living in improvised quarters in hotels and government building, according to congressional and military sources.
“’The hotels are fairly well controlled in terms of access… They have a fairly well-structured screening process going in and out,’ a Senate aide briefed by the Pentagon on the military’s procedures told The Daily Beast. ‘It sounds like they have an adequate level of screening and protective measures in place. That being said, once they move to a self-contained quarters, that will probably be better.’
“The military maintains that American service members have only limited interactions with locals on the ground. But some American soldiers are working with the Armed Forces of Liberia on a day-to-day basis, and others are training health-care providers on how to combat the virus.
“Further, the military acknowledges that it is currently sharing hotels and businesses with foreign nationals.
“‘We are here with the permission of the Liberian government and we do not clear out local hotels and businesses during our stay,’ said an Army spokesman. ‘We chose hotels with the safety of our service members in mind, and the hotel staffs monitor all employees and guests and allow us to conduct safety inspections of their facilities to ensure they meet our safety criteria.'”
“Soldiers based in Liberia have their temperature measured several times per day, and are not permitted to shake hands. They are also are required to frequently wash their hands with a chlorine solution. Some locations even employ chlorine mats that service members are required to wipe their feet on in order to enter.
“’The facilities that we’re in have been vetted by our doctors. [They] have gone through the facilities to make sure that they’re safe for our soldiers,’ Army spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Indovina said. ‘We’re very confident. We’ve had very good luck from the time when we’ve arrived on the ground.’”