The vast resources of the United States military continue to move into the Ebola-stricken nation of Liberia. The Army’s 1st Area Medical Laboratory cased its colors at the Aberdeen Proving Ground on Oct. 27 in preparation for its deployment to Liberia later in the week. It is tasked with being the testing laboratory for the Joint Task Force command, providing Ebola analysis and testing for soldiers and civilians engaged in Operation United Assistance.
The Task Force changed command on Oct. 25, when Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky assumed command from Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams. Volesky commands the 101st Airborne Division. The division’s headquarters element will control task force operations for the immediate future. Some 700 troops are deploying with the 101st, including military police, administrative elements and medical personnel.
In a story dated Oct. 25, the Washington Post reported the deployment of 85 troops of the 501st Aviation Regiment from Fort Bliss to Liberia by the end of this week. The troops include pilots, ground crew and support personnel for the unit’s helicopters which are being airlifted to West Africa. The 501st will provide much of the transport and air lift capability in the Joint Task Force.
The Department of Defense announced on Oct. 25 that all three military laboratories are in operation in Liberia. They are processing up to 100 specimens each daily, testing for Ebola.
The EMEDS hospital delivered and set up by the Air Force in September should be fully operational by the end of the first week of November. Construction of support buildings should be finished by then. The first of 17 Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), located in Tubmanburg, Liberia, is nearly complete and construction on a second is scheduled to begin by Nov. 8.
The EMEDS hospital, located near the international airport in Monrovia, is intended to treat foreign health care workers who may contract Ebola. It will be staffed by uniformed officers from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The first 65 members of Rapid Deployment Force Team 2 arrived at Roberts International Airport in Monrovia, Liberia, on Oct. 27. RDF-2 was the first Public Health Service unit to deploy to the New York metro area after Hurricane Sandy closed so many hospitals.
The merchant ship. the M/V Vega, arrived in West Africa Oct. 24. It carried some 700 containers, 1,220,991 pounds of supplies, to support Operation United Assistance. Under contract to the U. S. government, it docked at the Liberian port of Buchanan.
The United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response toured several facilities on Oct. 24 while in Liberia. Escorted by U.S. military personnel, they inspected the EMEDS site in Monrovia and the ETU site in Tubmanburg. Marine MV-22B Ospreys were used to transport the VIPs, demonstrating their unique flight abilities.
The Pentagon reports that there are about 600 American troops on the ground in Liberia. An additional 100 troops, primarily from the Kentucky Air National Guard, are manning a freight hub in Dakar, Senegal. The total number is growing every day and is expected to reach 4,000. Troops are being told that they may be deployed for as long as six months.