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American Forces Press Service

DoD Decides Against Sending Four Guard and Reserve Units to West Africa

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2015 – Army National Guard soldiers who were set to replace forces in Senegal and Liberia fighting West Africa's devastating Ebola outbreak will not be needed in that effort, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Adm. John Kirby said today.

Soldiers from four guard units would have joined more than 2,300 U.S. military personnel now serving in Liberia and Senegal in support of the U.S. whole-of-government response to the ongoing pandemic, he added.

"The decision has now been made that the ongoing work of Operation United Assistance does not require several National Guard units that were initially considered for deployment," the admiral said. "We are confident that we can meet the continuing needs of this mission without activating these reserves."

Kirby said roughly 350 guard troops from four states had been notified to prepare to deploy – about 280 from Minnesota, 14 from Ohio, 16 from Texas and 40 from Iowa.

Guard Troops from Four States

In November Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed an order authorizing the involuntary mobilization of about 2,100 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers to support Operation United Assistance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, as of Jan. 23 the total number of confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are 21,797 with 8,675 deaths.

Outbreaks in Senegal, Nigeria, Spain, the United States and Mali have ended, the CDC says, adding that a national Ebola outbreak is considered to be over when 42 days have elapsed since the last patient in isolation became laboratory negative for the viral disease.

At the Pentagon, Kirby said DoD is providing critical support for the U.S. government Ebola virus disease response, bringing unique capabilities – specifically, speed and scale -- to support the civilian-led response in West Africa.

U.S. Whole-of-Government Approach

"At the request of the Liberian government, as part of this whole-of-government approach led by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense has mobilized and adapted its resources in a very austere environment, supporting a critical mission," Kirby said.

The rapid deployment of military personnel, from engineers to logisticians, provided for the international civilian response by nongovernmental organizations, USAID and the United Nations to grow their capability and capacity on the ground, the admiral said.

"The United States is now backing more than 10,000 civilian responders on the ground in the various Ebola-affected areas," he added, providing direct and indirect health-care support and many other functions that were being handled by Operation United Assistance.

Kirby added, "We will have more to say about the next phase of the operation in the weeks ahead, as more work is completed and as we press for additional progress against this epidemic."

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