Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, 101st Airborne Division commander, yesterday in Monrovia, Liberia, assumed command of Joint Forces Command – Operation United Assistance and the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
In a written statement yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby noted that, "Just 38 days ago, Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams arrived in Liberia to form an advance detachment in his capacity as commanding general, U.S. Army Africa, prior to the formal establishment of this Joint Forces Command.”
In that short period, Kirby said, U.S. service members under his leadership “have made great advances in establishing command and control capabilities for this effort, including lines of communication over very rough terrain.”
Over 1,500 samples from patients have been tested in three labs, two of which were established earlier this month, Kirby said. These labs can now provide 24-hour turn-around results, and are capable of processing up to 100 samples from clinics and healthcare providers each day.
The 25-bed hospital in Monrovia should be fully operational in the first week of November once the construction of the supporting facilities is complete, Kirby noted. Upon completion, the hospital will be staffed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services personnel. In addition, the construction of the first Ebola Treatment Unit at Tubmanburg, Liberia, is nearing final completion. The construction on the second ETU should finish around the beginning of November and a third soon after.
In Dakar, Senegal, DoD personnel are establishing an intermediate staging base and transport hub. This week, the M/V Vega, a contracted vessel, arrived in the region to deliver some 700 containers of support equipment for U.S. efforts.
In total, approximately 700 U.S. service members are now deployed to West Africa, including nearly 600 in Liberia and 100 in Senegal. Over the coming weeks, that could grow to upwards of 3,900 personnel.
Kirby said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “appreciates the dedication of these service members to help fight Ebola at its source. The Department of Defense will continue to support the whole-of-government response, led by USAID, in this effort.”