JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Oct. 9, 2014) -- Members of the 922nd Contingency Contracting Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, are preparing to depart in the coming weeks in support of the government's response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Pentagon officials announced in a news conference last week, the deployment the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) headquarters, at Fort Campbell, to Monrovia, Liberia, later this month as the Joint Force Command for Operation United Assistance.
Lt. Col. Robert McDonald, commander of the 922nd Contingency Contracting Battalion, which is part of Mission and Installation Contracting Command, will lead more than a dozen members to provide contract support for the division and other JFC-United Assistance forces involved in the effort. This marks the first time since the 2013 integration of deployable units across the command that a battalion from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command will deploy forward and align with a division.
"The 922nd will be responsible for providing theater contract support for the joint force command, as well as mission command for two contingency contracting teams," he said.
Those teams are the 718th Contingency Contracting Team, which is part of the 410th Contracting Support Brigade at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and the 643rd Contingency Contracting Team from Germany's 409th Contracting Support Brigade. Once in West Africa, the battalion will attach to the 414th Contracting Support Brigade.
JFC-United Assistance is coordinating DOD resources in support of the government of Liberia contain the Ebola virus. That includes establishing Ebola treatment units across the country, training health care workers and establishing logistical centers.
Art Jackson, the chief of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Current Operations Division, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, said 922nd Contingency Contracting Battalion Soldiers have been busy accomplishing more than 30 tasks required by Army Materiel Command officials in preparation for the deployment.
"They included medical training to increase our awareness of the Ebola virus, the means of contracting it, recognizing symptoms of the infectious disease, how to protect ourselves and properly don our protective equipment, as well as other individual Soldier deployment tasks," McDonald said.
Pentagon officials said Soldiers are expected to remain deployed for six months, but may be extended depending on mission needs.
Supporting an operation that aims to prevent the spread of such a deadly disease will be a first for members of the battalion. Regardless of unique mission, the battalion commander said his unit is ready.
"The process for contracting in West Africa is the same as it would be in any other theater," McDonald said. "West Africa provides some unique challenges due to the limited vendor base and their familiarity with how we conduct operations, but nothing that we can't overcome with a little work."