Kentucky Air National Guard Airmen support 101st Airborne’s movement to Liberia

Story by Maj. Dale Greer, Joint Task Force-Port Opening Senegal

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A group of 30 U.S. military personnel, including Marines, Airmen, and Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Dakar, Senegal, Oct. 19, 2014. The service members are bound for Monrovia, Liberia, where U.S. troops will construct medical treatment units and train health care workers as part of Operation United Assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development-led, whole-of-government effort to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

DAKAR, Senegal – The Joint Task Force-Port Opening Senegal (JTF-PO) supported the 101st Airborne Division’s departure from Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport here October 19th, en route to Liberia, where the division will join hundreds of U.S. service members engaged in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

JTF-PO Senegal is staffed by more than 70 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group and stood up operations here October 5th.

The JTF-PO’s mission is to funnel humanitarian aid and military support into West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance (OUA), according to Col. David Mounkes, the JTF-PO Senegal commander and member of the Kentucky ANG.

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U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky (right), commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, speaks with U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bruce Bancroft (left) and U.S. Air Force Col. David Mounkes of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group Oct. 18, 2014, during a tour of the Joint Operations Center for Joint Task Force-Port Opening Senegal at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Dakar, Senegal. The JTF-PO is funneling humanitarian supplies and military support into West Africa as part of Operation United Assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development-led, whole-of-government effort to respond to the Ebola outbreak. Volesky will serve as the new commander of the U.S. military’s Operation United Assistance Joint Forces Command, headquartered in Liberia, where the Department of Defense is sending 3,000 troops to support the mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

The Kentucky ANG Airmen are also augmented by seven active-duty Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, and Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

“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,” Mounkes said. “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.”

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), will take charge of the Joint Forces Command for OUA upon arrival in Liberia, replacing U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, the 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 Airborne Division 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.

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