ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2014) -- The U.S. Army's one-of-a-kind expeditionary medical laboratory will depart for Liberia this week.
The 1st Area Medical Laboratory, or AML, cased its unit colors in a ceremony here, yesterday, prior to its upcoming deployment for Operation United Assistance, the U.S. effort to contain the most deadly Ebola outbreak in history.
"The 1st AML is trained, equipped and ready for this mission," said Brig. Gen. JB Burton, the commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives).
"The 1st AML brings unique capabilities to our nation's efforts in support of this mission, and will play a vital role in enabling the understanding of this disease as a part of a larger joint and inter-agency enterprise," said Burton.
In Liberia, 1st AML will serve as a part of the 101st Air Assault Division (Air Assault) Joint Task Force Headquarters, and will set up laboratories for testing samples.
"They will join a team of Soldiers, doctors and scientists who have come together to support the U.S. Agency for International Development. They will deploy state-of-the-art analyzers and highly-trained Soldiers to enhance the identification of the disease using the most advanced protocols," said Burton, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee.
In support of joint and combined operations, 1st AML deploys worldwide to protect U.S. forces through surveillance and testing of environmental samples to determine threats and environmental health hazards.
"They are a battle-tested command, and they continuously deploy around the world to perform analytical testing and health hazards assessments of environmental, occupational, endemic and CBRNE hazards," said Burton. "The 1st AML is a one-of-a-kind formation, like the rest of the 20th CBRNE."
A highly-trained team of Soldier scientists that serve as microbiologists, biochemists and laboratory specialists, 1st AML previously deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to 1st AML Commander Col. Patrick M. Garman, his Soldiers train year round for their expeditionary laboratory mission, and held a certification exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in August.
Since receiving notice of the deployment to Africa, the team also conducted 72 hours of Level 3 training with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Garman said his team's mission will help to contain the disease globally.
"Today these Soldiers begin writing the next chapter in the 1st AML's proud story of service to our country," said Garman, a native of Troy, Ohio. "There's will be a story of protecting our nation from a deadly virus that could do us harm if not stopped in Western Africa."
"It's difficult for me to fully express in words the deep gratitude I feel to those whose service will make the world a better place; make the world a safer place," said Garman. "That is what these young men and women are prepared to do."