Dem: Bring troops home from Ebola hot zones

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is calling for a major shift in the strategy to contain Ebola in West Africa, urging military leaders to bring home a “majority” of U.S. troops.

“The United States went to West Africa with a strategy that has made a historic difference, but now that strategy should evolve,” Coons, who recently returned from West Africa, wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

{mosads}Coons acknowledged that the fight against Ebola is “far from over,” but said the military should begin transitioning its role to the West African countries and international groups such as the United Nations.

The number of U.S. troops in West Africa has peaked at 2,900, the head of the U.S. Africa Command said last month. Military leaders have said they will reconsider their role in West Africa sometime in January.

President Obama announced in September that the military would be assisting with the fight against Ebola by deploying as many as 4,000 troops. That number was later revised downward, though infection rates remain high in West Africa.

The Delaware senator lauded the work so far by the military, particularly in building treatment centers in Liberia. The sharp drop in new cases in the country was “largely because of the United States’ extraordinary effort,” he wrote in his letter.

Still, he warned that a shift in strategy should not mean “the end of the U.S. mission in West Africa.”

Coons is the only member of Congress who has visited the Ebola-stricken region, where more than 20,000 people have been infected.

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