Fort Benning Soldiers to deploy to West Africa

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Fewer than ten Soldiers assigned to Fort Benning's 463rd Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services), 14th Combat Support Hospital, will deploy to West Africa as part of a Response Support Force for Operation United Assistance.

The RSF supports the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead federal agency in West Africa responding to the Ebola virus outbreak. The RSF mission is to help the Liberian government contain the Ebola virus, establish and synchronize Ebola treatment units across the country, train health-care workers and establish logistical centers to support this effort.

The team deploying to the area, is led by a veterinarian and is assisted by a veterinary technician; the other four team members are food inspectors.

The 463rd team will conduct food and water supply inspections to protect the health of other RSF members. They will not be working with Ebola patients or health-care providers.

All Soldiers deploying to Liberia will receive specific medical training developed in conjunction with U.S. Army Public Health Command, and will use specialized personal protective equipment to prevent exposure to the virus.

The 463rd is one of eight Army veterinary detachments in the United States, Europe and Asia.  The unit has a dual mission of animal medicine and food and safety inspection support.

The unit served a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2011 to July 2012.  Headquartered in Kandahar, the 60 Soldiers who deployed then worked in nine different locations and provided services for nearly half of the country.

A date for the Fort Benning Soldiers' departure has not been announced and the length of the deployment has not been determined.