The small number of troops that remain in Liberia for Operation United Assistance have one duty left to carry out — to no longer be needed.
For the remaining 100 U.S. personnel supporting Ebola-related contingencies in Monrovia — down from 2,800 who have deployed to the region in the last six months — the mission is to monitor cases as they tick down to zero and stay there.
And their time spent in Liberia depends on that fact alone.
“Our deployment is open-ended,” said Army Col. Sven Erichsen, commander of the 48th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Brigade.
About 30 members of the 48th CBRN, which replaced the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, are directly aiding the United Assistance effort. “It’s dependent on the conditions on the ground — right now, the Liberia situation looks pretty good compared to what it was, but really, it’s difficult to predict with certainty what the situation will look like in a few months,” he told Military Times.
This marks the first deployment since being activated in 2007 for the 48th, according to a Defense Department release. The brigade, based at Fort Hood, Texas, is working with the United States Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, to support the Liberian government’s needs.
Erichsen also said the brigade’s role is to maintain conversation between operations on the ground and U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Germany, “in order to facilitate decision making, or what additional military support is required.”