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Department of Defense Establishes Ebola Task Force

By Claudette Roulo
United States Department of Defense

August 5, 2014 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has established an internal Ebola task force to evaluate how the department can most effectively support overarching U.S. government and international efforts to prevent further transmission of the virus, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

Michael D. Lumpkin, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, has been appointed to lead the task force.

There has been no impact to U.S. Africa Command's operations in Africa as a result of the Ebola virus, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters during a news briefing.

"But clearly, we're watching this as closely as everybody else is and it's an interagency effort here in the United States," the admiral said. "It's not just the Pentagon, it's CDC, USAID, it's State Department. I mean, we're all talking about this and working on this."

A small number of department personnel remain on the ground in West Africa, Kirby said, assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Liberia.

They have established diagnostic laboratory capabilities there and have provided personal protective equipment to those involved in testing for the disease, a defense official said. The personnel have also supplied thousands of Ebola test kits to laboratory personnel. No DOD personnel are currently in Sierra Leone, but AMRIID has established diagnostic laboratory capability there as well.

A second American patient, Nancy Writebol, arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, today. Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who arrived Aug. 2, were transported from Liberia on contracted private aircraft. "There was no military participation in the movement," Kirby said. Both patients are being treated in a specialized containment unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

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