By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsOctober 9, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 9, 2014) -- The 1st Area Medical Laboratory will deploy to Liberia to support the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Part of the 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), Soldiers from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory, or AML, will set up laboratories to support Operation United Assistance.
Headed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, and supported by U.S. Army Africa and U.S. Africa Command, Operation United Assistance is helping affected countries in Africa to contain the most devastating Ebola outbreak in history.
American troops are supporting the effort with command and control, logistics support, training and engineering support.
"The 1st AML will establish an initial infectious disease laboratory in order to support the Ebola screening in West Africa," said 1st Area Medical Laboratory Commander Col. Patrick M. Garman.
"The 1st AML will bring state-of-the-art analyzers and experienced personnel, who will be able to enhance the identification of Ebola and other endemic diseases in an expeditious manner," said Garman, a native of Troy, Ohio.
According to Garman, 1st AML Soldiers have partnered with the 20th CBRNE Command surgeon and the Fort Detrick, Maryland-based U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to train for the deployment.
In support of Army, joint and combined operations, 1st AML deploys worldwide to perform analytical laboratory testing and health hazard assessments of environmental, occupational, endemic and CBRNE hazards.
Soldiers from 1st AML previously deployed to Afghanistan, in 2010.
"This deployment demonstrates the flexibility of this command," said Brig. Gen. JB Burton, commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command.
"From supporting the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa, to defeating improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, to shielding the homeland from CBRNE hazards, 20th CBRNE Command defends our nation and its allies around the globe," said Burton.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, said the health and safety of deploying troops was the top priority.
Rodriguez said U.S. Africa Command consulted with USAID, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, to develop protocols based on known risks and prudent planning.
"Preventing the spread of Ebola is the core task of this effort," said Rodriguez. "This is a key requirement in everything that we do in this operation, and this applies both to our support efforts and the protection of our own people."