MORÓN AIR BASE, Spain -- Since Oct. 8, 2014 a detachment of 100 U.S. Marines and sailors from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF) provided support to Operation United Assistance (OUA), the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
The rapid self-deployment of SPMAGTF-CR-AF Marines and sailors by four MV-22 Ospreys and two KC-130J Super Hercules provided a timely, mission-critical airlift capability to the Joint Force supporting OUA. The Marines enabled the Joint Force to reach remote locations that were virtually impossible to access by ground transportation during the rainy season due to washed out roads. Additionally, SPMAGTF-CR-AF also sent a Forward Resuscitative Surgical System detachment, which provided an enhanced surgical capability to support U.S. service-members contributing to OUA.
Over the past two months, the Marines conducted over 170 missions, flew over 240 hours, and transported over 1200 passengers and over 78,000 pounds of cargo. They also supported the movement of key personnel, such as the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, and various U.S. Government and relief agency workers, to visit treatment locations throughout Liberia.
“This mission demonstrates the inherent versatility, scalability, and unique responsiveness of Special Purpose MAGTF Crisis Response - Africa,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert C. Fulford, SPMAGTF-CR-AF commanding officer. “In a little under 40 hours of travel time, we were able to get our Marines and sailors, and aircraft on the ground in Liberia, ready to actively assist with the Ebola relief efforts. While supporting the OUA mission in Liberia, we simultaneously maintained an additional alert force based out of Moron, Spain, prepared to respond to crisis in Africa; we continued to provide a security force in U.S. Embassy, Bangui, Central African Republic; and we conducted military-to-military training throughout Europe and Africa strengthening our interoperability and relationships with partner nations.”
SPMAGTF-CR-AF supported OUA until Dec. 1, 2014 when they were relieved by U.S. Army aviation assets from the 101st Airborne Division, who assumed the long-term responsibility of support to the OUA mission. Upon completion of their mission, the Marines and sailors shifted focus towards conducting maintenance, washing-down equipment in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and preparing to move to U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, Germany, where they will begin their 21-day controlled monitoring period.
“Looking at the situation from every vantage point we want to make sure that the Marines and sailors are healthy and the equipment is clean,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Michael A. Schermer, SPMAGTF-CR-AF lead medical planner. “We are taking every precaution possible to ensure that we don’t put others at risk when they return to their unit and eventually their families.”
During the 21-day controlled monitoring period, the Marines and sailors will be under the care of trained healthcare professionals, undergoing temperature checks twice daily and being evaluated them for symptoms of Ebola.
SPMAGTF-CR-AF is postured to respond to a broad range of military operations in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, including: U.S. Embassy reinforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP), training with partner nations, and other missions as directed.