U.S. troops may spend up to 18 months on Ebola-related deployments in West Africa — mostly to provide comfort to sufferers and serve as a stabilizing force for the governments, said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen. Dempsey said the military troops aren’t providing direct care, Newsmax reported.
“[They’re only] stabilizing the environment and giving confidence to the health care workers that if they do come down with the disease, they’ll be cared for,” he said in the Newsmax report.
“We think we’re making some progress in Liberia,” Gen. Dempsey said, Newsmax reported. “Sierra Leone is not trending favorably, and nor is Guinea.”
So far, 1,934 from the Defense Department have been sent to the region, with 1,759 in Liberia and 175 in Senegal. But the Stars and Stripes reported that military mission could include up to 4,000 soldiers.
Gen. Dempsey told a Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs crowd on Thursday that their mission probably wouldn’t reach the four-year deployment level — but that it could prove substantial, just the same.
“Is it a four-year mission? Probably not,” he said, Stars and Stripes reported. “But I bet it’s every bit of 18 months, which would be three rotations of six-month deployments.”
He also added that the troops weren’t there as part of a humanitarian effort, but rather as a “stability operation.” But as Stars and Stripes pointed out, that phrase is very often used by Washington, D.C., policy wonks as a way of laying the groundwork for long military campaigns — just as it was used to justify Iraq and Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cited the phrase in February: “The fight against Ebola is a stability operation. … We’re trying to bring stability to a region of West Africa that is inherently unstable and to contain that disease there and … try to stabilize [the region]. You can call it what you want, but it’s a stability operation … [even though] we said that we’re not going to do stability operations,” Newsmax reported.