PENTAGON — U.S. Africa Command is deploying 100 U.S. Marines to Liberia to establish an interim air support for Ebola relief operations ahead of additional Army troops from the 101st Airborne Division due by the end of the month, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters in a Wednesday press briefing.
The Marines — and four MV-22 Ospreys tilt-rotors and two KC-130J Hercules transport planes — will land in Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday and move to the Liberian capital of Monrovia, “to provide interim resupply and transportation support” on Thursday, Kirby said.
The Marines are part of the Special-Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF) Crisis Response Africa based at the Morón Air Base in Spain.
“They’re being sent as a bridging capability until the 101st can get down there and we expect that [the 101st] will be bring some intrinsic air assets with them,” Kirby said.
“We don’t see this deployment of these Marines to be long term. It’s seen as a temporary solution to get air assets into the region to deal with the austere environment we’re faced with down there.”
The crisis response SP-MAGTF was stood up last year to provide quickly deployable forces to trouble spots without relying on amphibious shipping.
The SP-MAGTF is based around a company of infantry Marines and has previously deployed to Libya.
All told, the Pentagon has authorized up to 4,000 troops to deploy to West Africa to assist countries in the region in the response to the current Ebola outbreak.