By Tony Perry
A unit of the California Army National Guard has been ordered to mobilize for possible deployment to West Africa to support U.S. and international efforts to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The linguist detachment of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion is among six National Guard battalions nationwide ordered for involuntary mobilization under an order signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The others are in Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Iowa and Kansas.
None of the approximately 1,200 soldiers from the battalions will provide direct medical care to Ebola patients, the Army National Guard said in its announcement Sunday. Another 900 Army reservists are also being mobilized for what the Pentagon calls Operation United Assistance.
The Guard soldiers and reservists will provide training on Ebola and malaria prevention and also medical readiness, the Army said.
The deployments are set for early spring 2015 to replace U.S. soldiers in Liberia and Senegal, the Army said.
The linguist detachment of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion deployed to help non-English speakers at emergency assistance centers after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The detachment later deployed to Iraq. Recent missions include a humanitarian operation in El Salvador in 2011 and a large-scale training mission in Utah in June of this year.
The 223rd battalion, with headquarters in San Francisco, includes interpretors, translators, counter-intelligence specialists and interrogation specialists.
After returning from deployment, the Guard soldiers and reservists will undergo a 21-day "controlled monitoring period" to ensure that they have not contracted Ebola, the Army said.
(c)2014 the Los Angeles Times