The Joint Forces Command United Assistance of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division departs Liberia this Saturday, 28 February 2015 for the United State of America after five months of vigorous support to the Government of Liberia’s fight against the deadly Ebola virus.
Speaking Thursday at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia, during a Color Casing Ceremony, the Commander of the Joint Forces Command United Assistance, Major/General Gary J. Volesky, said, the mission here was to support lead federal agency, the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, by providing unique military capabilities to help contain the virus and reduce the spread of Ebola in Liberia, and to execute the tasks with speed and flexibility that would not only help build confidence among Liberians that the virus could be defeated, but also help garner the support of the international community to also assist in the fight against the disease.
Gen. Volesky said, as the 101st Airborne Division departs Liberia, the fight to getting to zero will still continue and the JFC has ensured that capabilities brought will be sustained in the future. “ETU construction, health care workers training, and logistical sustainment operations for Ebola containment have been transitioned to reliable partners that will continue supporting the fight against the EVD”, he said.
Gen. Volesky also said 100 troops will stay in Liberia few more months to monitor the continued progress against the EVD to ensure the gains already made are sustained. He commanded Liberia’s Defense Minister brownie Samukai and Army Chief Staff, Brig./Gen. Daniel Ziankahn for allowing them to call the Barclay Training Center their home.
However, he noted that none of this would have mattered if it wasn’t for the phenomenal leadership provided by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the Ministers of Defense and Health and other key leaders with the Liberian government who he noted, created and enforced policies that changed cultural practices that were facilitating the transmission of EVD.
“Without this outstanding leadership,” Gen. Volesky said, “We would not have seen the progress we see today. I know due to their commitment to get to zero new cases, I am confident Liberia will be Ebola free in the near future.”
He stressed that the importance of the current progress means more than just reduction in the number of new or suspected cases as it is also about Liberians being able to get back to a normal way of life, which he noted have grown remarkable over the past few months.
The JFC Commander said, reopening schools, hugh increase in the number of people shopping in the markets, and the lifting of curfew and reopening of borders are important examples of how a normal way of life is returning to Liberia, adding, “And while no one can become complacent and allow Ebola to remerge like it did in August, it is encouraging to see a country resuming everyday life.”
While in Liberia, the JFC worked with the Armed Force of Liberia in building and overseeing construction of ETUs, training of over 1,500 health workers both in Monrovia and in local communities, to educate and provide awareness, and establishment of four mobile testing labs here so blood samples of potential Ebola patients could be identified.
For his part, AFL Chief of Staff, Brig./Gen. Daniel Ziankahn, said working with the JFC was great and appreciated the time they spent in Liberia
The ceremony was attended by Liberia’s Vice President., Joseph Boakai, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, and Chief of Staff Gen. Ziankahn, among others.
By Bridgett Milton