Amidst reports of drastic reduction in the infection rate of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, which is being evidenced by the low number of cases in the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) around the country, the United States- led Military Operation United Shield (MOUS) has disclosed that 12 out of the 17 ETUs to be constructed across Liberia are completed or near completion.
The 12 ETUs, which have been completed or nearing completion, are located sites in Tubmanburg, Bomi County; Senje, Grand Cape Mount County; Buchanan, Grand Bassa County and the southeastern region of the country.
Major General Williams made the disclosure when he paid a farewell visit with and courtesy call on President Sirleaf last Friday, at her Foreign Affairs office. During that occasion, he introduced his successor, Major General Gary Volesky, to the Liberian leader, an Executive Mansion statement said.
Outgoing Commander Williams stressed that US troops, under his command, have been able to build six additional mobile labs.
It may be recalled the US government, through President Barack Obama, early last month ramped up its assistance with the announcement of a 3,000-strong U.S. military team to West Africa "to combat and contain" what was then being referred to as an “extraordinarily serious epidemic.
This new assistance would supply medical and logistical support to overwhelmed local health care systems and increase the number of beds needed to isolate and treat victims of the Ebola crisis.
President Obama announced the plans of the expanded effort during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, amid alarm that the outbreak could spread. Officials had feared that the deadly virus could mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.
Over a hundred members of the 3000 military personnel promised, headed by Major General Darryl Williams, arrived about five weeks ago kick starting a robust exercise of the US assistance to the country. But General Williams’ end of duty in Liberia is being considered by many Liberians as shocking, abrupt and short-lived; for many of them had began to admire his eloquence, stature, openness and frankness.
Major General Williams expressed gratitude to President Sirleaf and the Liberian people for the level of enthusiasm they have demonstrated in forming a united front to fight the disease and that the U.S. army was happy to form part of.
Commanding General Williams, at a brief but well coordinated occasion, transferred authority to another Major General, Gary J. Volesky at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia. The ceremony was characterized by military traditional activities.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during the meeting with General Williams praised United States (US) army and Major General Darryl Williams for his leadership ahead of a military deployment in Liberia.
The Liberian leader stressed that the vanguard role played by Major General Williams proves United States’ commitment to the relationship between both countries, especially in forming a common front to defeat the Ebola virus.
In earlier remarks, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Debora Malac, disclosed that beginning this week, U.S. military personnel will commence training of ETU personnel. Five hundred persons are expected to be trained per week and will be deployed to the new ETUs being constructed.
Ambassador Malac said while Liberia makes progress in cutting transmission, the centers being constructed are part of the U.S. strategy in preparing for worst case scenario.
Incoming U.S. Army Commander, Major General Gary Volesky, expressed renewed U.S. commitment to teaming up with Liberia to defeat the Ebola virus disease.
He said the U.S. military’s intervention here will be characterized by flexibility, speed and confidence and expressed confidence in the collaboration of Armed Forces of Liberia’s Engineering Battalion with the U.S. forces.
Major General Volesky said the AFL had demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and strength and informed the Liberian leader that the U.S. army could not have done it alone without the collaboration with the AFL.
Major General Williams has since departed the country, describing Liberians as hospitable and always willing to help, the Mansion statement noted.