Below are General Rodriguez's open remarks at the White House press briefing on the U.S. Government Reponse to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa on Oct. 3, 2014. For the full transcript of the press briefing, visit www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/03/press-briefing-government-response-ebola-west-africa-1032014
General David Rodriguez, Commander, U.S. Africa Command:
First, let me assure all of you - we take our responsibility to protect the United States very seriously; it is always at the forefront of our thinking. As we deploy America’s sons and daughters to support this comprehensive United States Government effort, led by the United States Agency for International Development, we will do everything in our power to address and mitigate any potential risk to our servicemembers, civilian employees, contractors, and their families.
The professionals of Doctors Without Borders have a remarkable record of safe operations in their fight against the spread of Ebola. We have looked at their procedures and consulted with USAID, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and others to develop our protocols, based on known risks and prudent planning.
Here are the steps we are taking. Prior to deployment, we will provide the best equipment and training that we can. We are assessing risk based on servicemembers’ mission and location, and providing training to match their circumstances and potential for exposure to Ebola Virus Disease. We are implementing procedures to reduce or eliminate the risk of transmission as servicemembers go about their daily missions while deployed, including the use of personal protective equipment, hygiene protocols, and monitoring. Prior to redeploying servicemembers back home, we will screen and identify anyone who faced an elevated risk of exposure; and we will take all necessary steps to minimize any potential for retransmission.
In the end, our equipment, training, procedures, and – most of all – the discipline of our leaders and our force will help us to ensure that our team accomplishes its mission without posing a risk to our nation and fellow citizens.