By Staff Sgt. Dillon White, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command senior enlisted leader, speaks with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Detail Horn of Africa Seabees on board a C-17 Sept. 19, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Fifteen Seabees from NMCB-133 will travel to Monrovia, Liberia, in support of Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE to conduct site surveys, construct a $22 million hospital and stockpile it with supplies to support training of healthcare workers fighting the Ebola outbreak. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Leslie Keopka
A team of 15 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 traveled to Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 23, to provide engineering support to Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE, conducting site surveys for projects such as hospitals, supply storage and training facilities for healthcare workers fighting the Ebola outbreak.
The assistance is part of a larger response that will provide up to 27 Ebola treatment units to the affected region with a focus on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“Working with our interagency partners, the U.S. military brings a unique logistics capability to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus,” said Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Chief of Staff Navy Capt. Shawn Duane. “Our Seabees are vital members of the CJTF-HOA team. Every day, they build something that makes a difference in East Africa. As they head west, they will help build infrastructure that will save lives.”
Seabees tasked to conduct site surveys or later construct infrastructure will not be in contact with patients who have contracted the Ebola virus.
“At home port, we go through field training exercises to build expeditionary camps, and the Seabees who will go, completed a deployment to Afghanistan in 2013 where they built [forward operating bases] and [combat outposts],” said Lt.j.g. Aaron Kulp, NMCB 133 Officer in Charge about his ‘Bees experience.
Kulp said that, while details of the projects and construction materials are not yet known, his Seabees are ready.
“Our guys are excited,” he said. “Humanitarian assistance is something we’ve built our heritage on. With compassion for others, we build, we fight.”
The hospital was requested by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and approved by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Sept. 6.
President Barack Obama discussed the U.S. military’s involvement at the Center for Disease Control Sept. 16 in Atlanta.
“At the request of the Liberian government, we’re going to establish a military command center in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region — similar to our response after the Haiti earthquake,” Obama said. “It’s going to be commanded by Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of our U.S. Army forces in Africa. He just arrived today and is now on the ground in Liberia.”
“And our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and control, in logistics, in engineering. And our Department of Defense is better at that, our Armed Services are better at that than any organization on Earth.”
In addition to the Seabees, U.S. Africa Command has already sent a three-person team to support the USAID Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) in Monrovia.
The team is currently scheduled to remain in Monrovia from four to six weeks to assist the DART with: determining sites for temporary structures such as support hospitals, laboratory isolation and quarantine units; air traffic planning for movement of personnel, supplies and equipment into-and-within the Ebola-affected region; and overall logistics planning.
For more information about Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, go to http://www.hoa.africom.mil/