ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The news that they would be tasked to aid the international response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa came as no surprise to the Soldiers of APG's 1st Area Medical Laboratory -- the unit has been preparing for this mission for weeks in anticipation of the president's commitment of the nation's military to join the fight to subdue the disease.
According to 1st AML Commander Col. Patrick M. Garman and Sgt. Maj. Kenneth B. Petty -- both of whom will deploy with their Soldiers -- the unit is more than prepared to take on the historic mission.
"When you train for a specific mission every day, after a while you are just ready to get on with it," Garman said. "They've been training for some time and they're very confident."
He said he gained even greater confidence in his Soldiers after watching their intensity during training and other preparations over the past few weeks.
"I have a very high level of trust in their abilities and confidence that they know how to accomplish their mission safely and return to their families proud in what they achieved," he said.
1st AML Soldiers and their families gathered at the 1st AML headquarters for a Family Readiness Group meeting Oct. 9, which was organized by Garman's wife Kim who leads the unit FRG program.
Soldiers and their families took Family photos with a professional photographer supplied by the FRG and then enjoyed light snacks during deployment and FRG briefings that followed.
They discussed everything from Ebola -- referred to as EVD for Ebola Virus Disease -- their mission, and the Liberian climate and culture, to sending mail and receiving care packages.
Petty said the unit is "excited and ready to get started."
"As their leaders we'll focus on keeping up their confidence, motivation and Espirit de Corps," he said. "As long as they know their leaders are with them and for them, they'll remain excited about accomplishing this mission. I'm proud to serve with them."
During an Oct. 7 press briefing at the Pentagon, Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said U.S. military support to West Africa may last a year, though it remains undetermined how long the 1st AML mission will last.
"This is not a small effort and it's not a short period of time," Rodriguez said.
The 1st AML is not daunted by the time requirement or the mission, said Capt. Sean Palmer. "These Soldiers are very well trained, he said, adding that "some have multiple degrees and have backgrounds in hospital and chemical laboratories."
"This mission is in line with what we do every day to keep Soldiers safe."