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 Sunday, 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 started operations here Oct. 5. 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 Air National Guard.
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 Operation United Assistance 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.