History Articles

621st Contingency Response Wing support to Operation United Assistance

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By Jamien Parks, 621st Contingency Response Wing History Office

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ -- In 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) took the lead to direct an international response to the largest Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, which occurred in Western Africa. The United States Africa Command coordinated the Department of Defense response, named Operation United Assistance (OUA), and U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) implemented the Joint Task Force Port Opening (JTF-PO) capability.

Members of the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron (MSAS) completed three engagement missions in Dakar, Senegal, in 2014. The relationships they built with the Senegalese Air Force paid dividends when the 123rd Contingency Response Group (CRG), Kentucky Air National Guard, arrived at the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport, Dakar, to establish port operations in support of OUA on September 28.

From September 16 to November 18, 89 members from the 817th CRG deployed for a JTF-PO mission at Roberts International Airport, Monrovia, Liberia. The JTF-PO supported the arrival of Joint Forces Command staff and equipment, along with foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies.

A Joint Assessment Team deployed on September 16 and provided an analysis for the deployment of the full JTF-PO on September 22. The main body arrived over 18 days, with the first main chalks arrival on September 25.

The JTF-PO members coordinated the onload and offload of all USTRANSCOM airlift missions, USAID and World Health Organization relief operations and host nation support. Personnel, material, and supplies brought into the airfield led to the construction of 17 Ebola Treatment Units, mobile labs, and personnel to man the Monrovia Medical Unit. Additionally, the JTF-PO members permanently improved Roberts International Airport airfield security, airfield management, runway conditions, and medical screening.

The 21st Air Mobility Operations Squadron (AMOS) personnel deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to augment the 603rd Air Operations Center. The 21 AMOS Airmen coordinated airflow and requirements in support of OUA.

Air Mobility Liaison Officers (AMLO) deployed with their U.S. Army units to West Africa to help coordinate airlift issues between the Joint Task Force Commander and USTRANSCOM. Also, the AMLOs helped identify key landing zones and communicated real-time airfield conditions to coordinate joint mobility operations.

Overall, JTF-PO utilized 155 aircraft sorties to transport 2,566 passengers and move 5,988 short-tons of cargo. On November 9, 2014, JTF-PO members transferred authority to the U.S. Army’s 53rd Movement Control Battalion.