Thoughts from the Running Trail - "Operation United Assistance Underway"

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn
of Africa command senior enlisted leader, gives encouraging remarks to Naval
Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Detail Horn of Africa Seabees prior to
their departure Sept. 19, 2014, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Fifteen sailors
from NMCB-133 will travel to Monrovia, Liberia, in support of Operation
UNITED ASSISTANCE to conduct site surveys, construct a $22 million hospital
and stockpile it with supplies to support training of health care workers
fighting the Ebola outbreak. Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Image U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command senior enlisted leader, gives encouraging remarks to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Detail Horn of Africa Seabees prior to their departure Sept. 19, 2014, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Fifteen sailors from NMCB-133 will travel to Monrovia, Liberia, in support of Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE to conduct site surveys, construct a $22 million hospital and stockpile it with supplies to support training of health care workers fighting the Ebola outbreak.

Sgt Maj and I travel across East Africa to have eyes on all being done by CJTF-HOA and our partners.  We check on our assets, our “blood and treasure,” engaged in operations.  We also recently returned from AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.  That visit opened our eyes to how what is happening in East Africa is affected by what happens on the African Continent.  One of our higher HQ’s Commanders’ priorities is Ebola.  To be good teammates, we need to understand Ebola, how it affects what we do at CJTF-HOA and our team across East Africa.

 

At the present moment, Ebola is thousands of miles away from Djibouti.  However, AFRICOM was tasked with standing up an Ebola Joint Force Command to assist USAID in Liberia, a task that we will support as we are directed to.  A small number of our Seabees have been tasked to support this mission.  They will use their valuable skills to assist with assessments and facilitate construction which will enable healthcare workers to safely provide assistance to patients.  The Seabee motto is “Can Do” and anyone who has served with a Seabee knows this is true.  We send them off with our support on this critical mission. 

 

Here’s some of what we know about Ebola:  the Ebola virus is an infectious disease in which symptoms are a sudden onset of fever, muscle pain, severe weakness of the body, headache and sore throat.  As it worsens, there is vomiting, a rash and diarrhea and then a more advanced stage is possible internal and external bleeding.  This virus can be transmitted through animals, through contact with blood or fluids of someone infected already, or exposure to contaminated objects.  There is no cure as of now but treatment includes balancing the patient’s fluids with electrolytes, maintaining a normal blood pressure and treating problematic infections. 

 

 As of a few days ago, the Ebola virus in West Africa (note, we are in East Africa) has had approximately 4784 cases reported.  Some countries that have offered assistance are the United States, United Kingdom, EU, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, France and Uganda. The World Health Organization has invested $100 million; World Bank has committed 200 million, 180 million from the European Commission and 75 million from the United States. The U.S. has also committed to send a 25 bed field hospital to Liberia. This is a whole-of-government response that was a joint decision by USAID, CDC, DOD and key U.S. Government Leadership.   Although there is not a cure for Ebola, many are working diligently to get this outbreak under control. 

 

 There have been travel warnings posted on some countries but none here in East Africa. Precautions are being taken like airport screenings and education about the virus.  The Department of Defense is working with USAID with the goal of stopping the spread of Ebola. We are dedicated to working with the international community to assist in the response efforts.  Coordination between CJTF-HOA, AFRICOM, USAID and other US government agencies and the international community is vital.  Planning is underway to help contain this virus.

 

  Our mission here in CJTF-HOA has not been compromised. We remain engaged with the countries in our area of operation.  It is important that we communicate and everyone now knows what we know.  Each and every one of you plays a significant role what we do and our success.  We will continue to keep you informed.  

  Ubuntu, see you on the running trail...

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