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American Forces Press Service News Article

U.S. Forces Evacuate Americans, Others from Liberia

 
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
  
	WASHINGTON -- U.S. service members are evacuating 
American and third country nationals from Liberia, Pentagon 
officials said.
	On April 6, civil war broke out in the western African 
country. U.S. European Command sent in a five-man assessment 
team to evaluate how to get Americans out. The result was 
Joint Task Force Assured Response and the order from 
Washington to begin noncombatant evacuation.
	About 20 U.S. Navy Seals went in to beef up the Marine 
Corps security detail at the embassy. U.S. Air Force MH-53 
helicopters began ferrying people April 9 to Freetown, 
capital of Sierra Leone, northwest of Liberia. 
	U.S. troops from RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; 
Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Boeblingen, Germany; and 
Vicenza, Italy, set up a support base at Freetown, according 
to a DoD spokesman. From there, evacuees boarded C-130s for 
flights to Dakar, Senegal, where U.S. forces set up a 
temporary safe haven.
	Many evacuees are gathered at the walled U.S. embassy 
in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Others are trapped by rival 
factions in other areas of the city. U.S. troops are 
escorting those trapped to safety in the embassy.
	DoD officials confirmed U.S. special forces drove off a 
group of Liberians attempting to break into the U.S. 
Embassy.
	Daytime air evacuations from the embassy in Monrovia 
were halted after two incidents in which four rocket-
propelled grenades were fired causing two inbound 
helicopters to turn back, the spokesman said. Air 
evacuations from the embassy resumed after dark, he said. 
	By April 11, about 90 Americans and about 400 third 
country nationals on 19 U.S. flights had voluntarily left 
the city swept by violence and looting.
	The evacuation was labeled an "authorized departure," 
the spokesman said, which means American citizens who want 
to leave are authorized evacuation at government expense. An 
"ordered departure," the spokesman said, is when all 
Americans are ordered to leave.
	No Americans had been injured or held against their 
will as of April 11, according to the spokesman. 
	Additional helicopters were being sent to the West 
African city from the states. As a further precaution, ships 
from the amphibious ready group in the Mediterranean were 
ordered to the area and were expected to arrive in about 10 
days, the spokesman said.
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