By David VergunOctober 28, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 28, 2014) -- Army leaders have directed that Soldiers returning from Ebola-response efforts in West Africa go to a 21-day "quarantine-like program," said a Pentagon spokesman today.
The quarantine decision, supported by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, affects Soldiers returning from West Africa under the command of Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander, U.S. Army Africa, said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will make a decision on whether or not to implement this force-wide, Kirby said, adding that the secretary shares the concerns expressed by all the service chiefs about the "safety and well-being of U.S. troops and their families and said he appreciates the thoughtfulness and gravity" of their recommendations.
Army leadership made the decision, Kirby said, "using prudence, caution and a conservative approach." He added that each of the service chiefs "have wide latitude in making decisions involving force protection."
The quarantine involves daily monitoring and assessment, Kirby explained. The Soldiers have access to exercise, recreation, good food and communications with friends and family -- just not direct contact for the 21-day period.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has stressed that U.S. troops won't come in contact with Ebola patients while in West Africa, Kirby said.
SUPPLIES REACH LIBERIA
In other news, the effort to contain the spread of the Ebola virus advanced Oct. 25, as "VEGA," a Defense Logistics Agency-contracted vessel, docked at the seaport in Buchanan, Liberia, and began off-loading its cargo.
VEGA transported 11,220,991 pounds of supplies provided by the U.S. to Liberia in support of Operation United Assistance, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
"This is not only good for Liberia," said Patrick Konneh, Liberian port manager at Buchanan. "This is also good for the Liberian sub-regions of Sierra Leone and Guinea, as Liberia takes the lead against Ebola."
VEGA was loaded at a port in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and spent 10 days at sea before arriving in Buchanan, Oct. 24. There were close to 700 20-foot containers, and several 40-foot containers, aboard the vessel. Of those containers, 455 contained construction materials for Ebola treatment units, and three contained personal protection equipment such as chemical protection suits, boots and surgical masks for healthcare workers.
The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency is working to pre-position other items so they're ready to go in support of on-going efforts to halt Ebola. Experts from each of the Defense Logistics Agency's supply chains were involved. These include professionals in distribution, warehouse operations, contracting and acquisition.
(Maj. John T. Stamm contributed to this story. For more ARNEWS stories, visit www.army.mil/ARNEWS, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArmyNewsService, or Twitter @ArmyNewsService)