Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the 30-person Ebola strike team ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will likely begin training this week.
Kirby told Fox that the idea was developed out of discussions between Hagel and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
“We have some unique capabilities in the United States military and our medical health professionals, and we wanted to be able to lend this capability to the government if needed, to civilian medical authorities if needed,” the press secretary said.
“They’re going to start their training probably this week. The training will take place for about a week long session, and then they’ll be on this 30 days prepare-to-deploy ready status where they could be ready to go within 72 hours. And we think we have some expertise that could be of help, again, only if needed and if required.”
The strike team would be limited to use within the United States. Kirby said there’s no significance to the fact that they’ll be training in Texas, where the first Ebola cases in the country occurred.
“It just so happens that that’s where the training, the U.S. Army training that they’re going to go through, that’s where it is. And the training that they’re going to be going through is really about Ebola protocols, to help them take the right precautions, to teach them how it wear the protective personal equipment, and to get them a little bit more up to speed on the latest on the virus,” he continued. “But that’s where the training really is, and that’s why it’s going to Texas. It has nothing to do with the issues in Dallas.”
Kirby told CNN none of the troops currently deployed in Liberia have contracted the Ebola virus.
“None of them have shown any symptoms. It’s going OK. And OK I mean that we’re on track to get those first emergency treatment units up. The first one will be done by the end of this month. The second one probably the first week of November. We’re building the training site,” he said.
“It’s going OK. But the weather and the infrastructure still a problem. I mean, it still rains much of the day and it just slows us down a little bit. But our troops are working really, really hard and they’re very proud of the contributions that they’re making.”
Kirby stressed that “it’s still going to be quite a lift.”
“This disease is very, very deadly and it’s spreading down there, there’s no question about that. “