Dempsey video aims to calm troops’ Ebola fears

The nation’s top military officer is looking to calm the fears of U.S. soldiers deploying to help combat the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released a video on YouTube Tuesday, assuring troops that the Defense Department would do everything it can to protect the health of service members “before, during and after deployment.”


“While the mission in West Africa will not include direct care to patients, the safety and health concerns of the men and women of our joint forces and their families remain of greatest importance to me and our Joint Chiefs,” he said.

The Obama administration is deploying as many as 4,000 troops to help fight Ebola in affected West African countries.

The troops will build treatment centers and train local healthcare workers but will not directly provide care to patients. However, the Pentagon has acknowledged that troops manning labs could have contact with infected samples.

In the video, Dempsey details the precautions the Pentagon is taking.

Soldiers who deploy will receive daily temperature and symptom checks. They will also be monitored for 21 days after returning to the U.S. “to quickly identify any signs of illness,” he added.

The four-star general said that, while military leaders have “every interest in keeping this terrible disease an away game,” the Pentagon is also prepping to meet the threat domestically.

On Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command to establish a 30-person rapid response team to quickly react to possible Ebola cases in the U.S.

The squad will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors who specialize in infectious disease and five specialists in infectious disease protocol training.

Dempsey said the team, which will receive seven days of training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, would be called in to assist civilian healthcare professionals "if they're needed."

“I thank you for what you do every day with great professionalism and courage,” he added.