US to withdraw troops from Ebola mission in West Africa

The US military plans to pull out most troops from West Africa that had been deployed to help stem the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the Pentagon said Tuesday, ending a five-month mission.

AFP| Updated: Feb 11, 2015, 07:33 AM IST

Washington: The US military plans to pull out most troops from West Africa that had been deployed to help stem the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the Pentagon said Tuesday, ending a five-month mission.

A force that at one point reached 2,800 has been scaled back to about 1,300 troops and "nearly all will return by April 30," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

The announcement came as the epidemic has begun to recede and after commanders suggested they might be able to wrap up the mission earlier than initially expected.

A small team of about 100 troops will remain in the region to strengthen "disease preparedness and surveillance capacity" of local governments, Kirby said.

At the height of the Ebola outbreak, President Barack Obama approved plans in September for more than 3,000 troops to head to Liberia and Senegal.

But the full contingent never had to be ordered in as the tide began to turn in the effort to contain the virus.

The US forces, most of whom were stationed in Liberia, constructed Ebola treatment units, trained "hundreds" of health workers, and provided logistical support to humanitarian groups throughout West Africa, Kirby said.