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Soldiers Leave Senegal for Liberia to Support United Assistance

By Air Force Maj. Dale Greer Joint Task Force Port Opening Senegal

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DAKAR, Senegal, Oct. 20, 2014 — The commander of the 101st Airborne Division and more than 30 of his troops departed from Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport here yesterday en route to Liberia, where they will join hundreds of U.S. service members engaged in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

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, succeeding Army Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa, in that role.

"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, 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 about 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, Volesky said. Another 700 troops will be deployed from multiple engineering units to build 17 100-bed medical treatment units and a 25-bed hospital.

Staging base task force

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 joint task force's mission, according to unit commander Air Force Col. David Mounkes, is to funnel humanitarian aid and military support into West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance.

"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, Calif., and Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.