WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 —
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked troops at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell today for making a “huge difference” in working to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa, and characterized the deadly disease as being as serious a threat to the world as terrorism.
“You all understand the perils, the threats, the challenges that face our country,” Hagel told troops during a visit to the base as he made his way back to Washington from four days on the road visiting bases and service personnel around the country. “The challenges and threats that face our country in the world today are not just from Islamic fundamentalists or from terrorists but from health diseases and pandemic health threats that threaten the world. Ebola is part of that overall scope of threats.”
Hundreds of troops from Fort Campbell are among the more than 2,200 U.S. service personnel deployed to West Africa as part of Operation United Assistance, the military operation that is supporting U.S and international efforts to stop the spread of Ebola. The disease has killed more than 5,100 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since March. The United Assistance mission is being led from Liberia by Fort Campbell’s commander, Army Maj. Gen. Gary. J. Volesky, who also commands the 101st Airborne Division.
Hagel credited the military as being perhaps the best equipped institution in the world for helping to stop the spread of Ebola and told troops that their contribution has made a significant difference. “I do think that what you all have been responsible for so far has made a huge difference in containing Ebola,” Hagel said, but cautioned that it is too early to determine how long the mission in West Africa will last.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @SimeoneDoDNews)