The commander of the 101st Airborne Division and more than 30 of his troops departed from Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport here Oct. 19 en route to Liberia, where they will join hundreds of U.S. service members engaged in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, commanding general of the 101st, will take charge of the Joint Forces Command for Operation United Assistance upon arrival in Liberia, replacing U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, who will continue as commander of U.S. Army Africa.
“Operation United Assistance is a critical mission,” Volesky said. “We will coordinate all of the Department of Defense resources in Liberia in support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government’s lead agency in this mission, and the government of Liberia to contain the Ebola virus and, ultimately, save lives.”
The Army is sending approximately 700 Soldiers from the 101st as part of the effort, including members of the division headquarters staff, sustainment brigade, combat support hospital and military police battalion, according to Volesky. Another 700 troops will be deployed from multiple engineering units to build 17 100-bed medical treatment units and a 25-bed hospital.
Volesky’s flight to Liberia was supported by Joint Task Force-Port Opening Senegal, an Intermediate Staging Base that stood up operations here Oct. 5. The JTF-PO’s mission is to funnel humanitarian aid and military support into West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance, according to Air Force Col. David Mounkes, the unit’s commander.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism and unique capability that all the members of our United States Transportation Command JTF-PO team have exhibited in this dynamic and challenging environment,” said Mounkes, a Kentucky Air National Guardsman. “JTF-PO Senegal stands ready to continue supporting the international response and humanitarian aid the United States and partner nations are bringing to the effort to alleviate human suffering and contain the spread of Ebola.”
The JTF-PO is staffed by more than 70 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group, based in Louisville. The Kentucky troops are augmented by seven active-duty Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, and Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.