Ohio National Guard unit to be deployed to West Africa to combat Ebola

Ohio National Guard unit to be deployed to West Africa to combat Ebola

COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - The U.S. Department of Defense announced Sunday that an Ohio Army National Guard unit could be deployed in the spring of 2015 in support of Operation United Assistance, a mission created to help combat the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

According to the Ohio Adjutant General's Department, about 130 soldiers in the 16th Engineer Brigade will oversee construction efforts in Africa.

Soldiers and families of the Columbus-based unit have already been notified. The soldiers will train at a military installation in the U.S. before heading to Africa, officials say.

"The Ohio National Guard continues to be a versatile and ready force for the nation and the citizens of Ohio," said Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst. "The soldiers of the 16th Engineer Brigade have the skill and track record to perform their work to the highest standards, and they will received all the equipment preparation and training resources necessary to achieve their mission safely and successfully."

The unit will be working on overseeing infrastructure operations, like the construction of clinics to treat Ebola patients.

The Defense Department assures that all U.S. service members going to West Africa will be provided with proper training and protective equipment.

All soldiers re-deploying to Africa will undergo observation to make sure they are healthy and did not contract Ebola.

The Defense Department says that, at this time, there are no plans for National Guard soldiers to directly support Ebola patients.

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