Journal of
African Studies and Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Afr. Stud. Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2189
  • DOI: 10.5897/JASD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 173


Killing Ebola: The militarization of US aid in Liberia

Drew Alexander Calcagno
  • Drew Alexander Calcagno
  • School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, London WCH1 0XG, United Kingdom.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 06 September 2016
  •  Accepted: 11 October 2016
  •  Published: 31 October 2016


In Liberia, the security-development nexus strongly emphasized the security side when Ebola became an international crisis with potential for global risk in 2014. In West Africa, 28,600 people had contracted Ebola and over 11,300 of them died. Liberia was the hardest hit with death from the disease, killing over 4,800 people. Similar to other interventions after 9/11, the US response to Ebola was intended to be a whole-of-government approach. Nevertheless, its implementation was forged predominantly by the US President’s command that several thousand troops would be deployed. This piece, through an analysis of primary interviews; oral histories of diplomats, military officers, aid workers, doctors, and Ebola treatment personnel; official documents; and other scholarly work undertakes an examination of the effects of the US’ militarized response. The article reveals the disconnect between the construction and health needs of Liberians afflicted with Ebola and the deployment of US combat-oriented troops.  In doing so, this article challenges assumptions of the role of the US military in humanitarian crises, as well as the efficacy of aid in the midst of the Ebola outbreak.


Key words: Ebola, Liberia, US, militarization, aid, security.