Ohio Army National Guard could be deployed to West Africa

Ohio National Guard unit may deploy to Africa to fight Ebola

About 130 soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard are expected to deploy to West Africa next spring to combat the region’s Ebola outbreak, the Department of Defense announced Sunday.

The deployment may last for up to a year and begin around April 2015, Ohio Army National Guard spokesman James Sims said.

Sims could not provide immediate information about how many soldiers from the Dayton area may be deployed.

“It’s a Columbus-based unit,” he said. “They could live just about anywhere.”

Officials should know for sure this week whether the deployment will take place, Sims said. If deployed, the unit will be the first from Ohio to combat Ebola in Africa.

The soldiers, who are in the 16th Engineer Brigade, specialize in construction and infrastructure operations. They might oversee the construction of Ebola treatment clinics in affected countries. There are no plans for the soldiers to directly aid Ebola victims, according to an Ohio Army National Guard news release.

Family members of the unit’s soldiers have been notified of the possible deployment.

The deployment will support Operation United Assistance, the U.S. government’s mission supporting civilian-led humanitarian efforts in countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. All service members deploying to West Africa receive training, protective equipment and medical threat briefings, the release said.

Nearly 2,200 U.S. troops currently are in West Africa fighting the outbreak. That number will peak at close to 3,000 next month, the U.S. Army announced Friday.

“We will top out in the middle of December just short of 3,000 and that’s the most we’ll bring into the country,” Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky told the Army News Service.

All soldiers re-deploying from Africa will undergo observation to ensure they have not contracted the virus, according to the headquarters.

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