US troops fighting Ebola peak at 2,900

The leader of the U.S. Africa Command said Wednesday that the number of U.S. troops helping to fight Ebola has likely peaked at 2,900.

Gen. David Rodriguez told reporters that the biggest components of the military’s role in West Africa — logistics support and treatment center construction — will start to “trail off” next month.

“The major efforts will end in Liberia in December and January,” he said in a briefing, adding that officials will reconsider the strategy at that time.

The U.S. also downsized its mission in Liberia, one of the countries most affected by Ebola, though the rate of transmission has recently slowed.

Troops will help build 10 treatment centers in Liberia instead of the 17 previously planned, Rodriguez said.

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

The U.S. military has largely focused on Liberia, though Sierra Leone has now reported nearly as many cases.

As the epidemic continues to grow in countries like Sierra Leone and Mali, Rodriguez said more resources may be needed there.

“The challenge to find and understand where theres a hotspot and move the resources quickly,” he said.

The military has faced criticism from some aid group overseas, who say they are overwhelmed by staffing shortages.

Sophie Delaunay, head of Doctors Without Borders' U.S. branch, told The Hill on Wednesday that the armed forces' role in West Africa has been “insufficient," leaving too much of the work to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

“We did very much welcome the military in this environment,” Delaunay said. “But from the very beginning, we were critical of the fact that the job of the military would only be building the centers and leaving NGOs to actually run them.”