621 CRW Airmen arrive in Liberia to support JTF-PO, Ebola outbreak humanitarian operations
By Staff Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez, 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 25, 2014
ROBERTS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Republic of Liberia --
Approximately 22 additional U.S. Air Force members arrived here Oct. 13, as part of the Joint Task Force-Port Opening team in support of Operation UNITIED ASSISTANCE, a comprehensive U.S. effort to work with the World Health Organization and other international partners to help the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone respond and contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa as quickly as possible.
The JTF-PO consists of approximately 79 members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and approximately 10 Soldiers from the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Their mission is to provide medical and humanitarian relief to host nation residents in response to the Ebola virus outbreak.
"This is an awesome opportunity being at the epicenter of a crisis the entire world is watching," said Col. Brad Johnson, JTF-PO commander. "We train for complex environments, and this is definitely one of those."
The JTF-PO's involvement with OUA began Sept. 15, when the 621 CRW's initial advance team consisting of a logistics readiness officer, and three aerial porters landed here to receive initial aircraft. By Sept. 20, four U.S. Army 688 RPOE Soldiers and 12 U.S. Air Force 621 CRW Airmen arrived as a JTF-PO joint assessment team, made up of air and surface mobility specialists, to assess operations and evaluate the airfield infrastructure for the ability to receive and distribute cargo.
"We're in the business of expanding an airfield's capacity to move cargo and passengers," Johnson said. "By doing so, we provide hope. That's why we are all here."
The JTF-PO specializes in rapidly establishing hubs for cargo distribution operations worldwide, to include remote or damaged locations, on short notice.
"This is only the second time we've launched the JTF-PO," Johnson said. "The first time was Haiti."
To date, the JTF-PO has distributed approximately 170,000lbs of cargo, and humanitarian supplies to local contractors to be delivered in support of OUA.
"Those pallets enable construction of Ebola treatment units, delivered mobile laboratories for rapid diagnosis of potentially affected people, and brought in U.S. Navy Seabees, and medical personnel who built the expeditionary medical support site that will be turned over to the Government of Liberia to train healthcare workers."