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Liberia Mission Winds Down

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2003 – The U.S. Joint Task Force that participated in stability operations in Liberia is pulling out, Defense Department officials said.

Military forces from the Economic Community of West African States have succeeded in establishing a safe area so humanitarian operations in Liberia can proceed, said officials. American forces will leave the country Oct. 1.

The USS Carter Hall and USS Nashville left the area over the past weekend with 1,550 soldiers and Marines. The USS Iwo Jima still is in the area and will return as soon as orders are cut, said Navy officials.

A total of 55 Marines will remain in Monrovia to beef up security at the U.S. embassy. The Marines are from Rota Naval Station, Spain.

At its greatest, U.S. presence in Liberia was about 300, U.S. officials said.

Twenty-one U.S. personnel developed malaria during the deployment. Twenty have returned to duty. One Marine remains hospitalized at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Md.

About 150 U.S. personnel are still in Dakart, Senegal, to support the West African force. U.S. officials said that group and its three aircraft will leave soon.

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