ST. PAUL (Nov. 16, 2014) — Nearly 700 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers from the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division will be mobilized to support humanitarian relief in Liberia in Spring 2015.
The Soldiers will provide the command and control of U.S. military forces deployed as part of Operation United Assistance, the military effort supporting the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) response to the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia.
“Our mission will be to coordinate all of the Department of Defense resources in Liberia to support USAID and the government of Liberia to contain the Ebola virus, and ultimately save lives,” said Army Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.
The specific duties of the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers will be to synchronize the operations, logistics, personnel and resources of the U.S. military forces assigned to the area. The Red Bulls will not be responsible for treating Ebola patients.
“And importantly for the Liberian people,” Nash continued, “the Minnesota National Guard presence will provide confidence that something can and will be done to stop the spread of disease.”
U.S. Army Division Headquarters have been tasked to provide command and control for Operation United Assistance. Since November 2014, the Ft. Campbell, Kentucky-based 101st Airborne Division has led the first rotation of this humanitarian mission. The Citizen-Soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division are expected to depart Minnesota in March 2015 for pre-mobilization training before deploying to Monrovia, Liberia in April 2015 to assume command from the 101st Airborne Division.
All troops deploying to West Africa will receive specific medical training — developed in conjunction with U.S. Army Public Health Command — and utilize specialized personal protective equipment to ensure they are protected from exposure.
“Preserving the health of our Soldiers is the highest priority for this mission,” said Army Maj. Gen. Neal Loidolt, commanding general of the 34th Infantry Division. “Extra steps are being taken to protect the Soldiers’ health, including personnel protective equipment and educating the Soldiers about the diseases prevalent in the area.”
The “Red Bulls” are expected to be deployed in Liberia for approximately six months.
“This mission highlights the versatility of the National Guard,” said Loidolt. “In addition to being deployed for domestic emergencies in Minnesota, many of these Red Bull Soldiers have been deployed for peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo; and warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am confident that our Citizen-Soldiers are up to the task of providing humanitarian aid in Western Africa.”