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Army Expects Ebola Deployments to West Africa to be Six Months

U.S. Army Pfc. Walker Prinz, center, cuts wood at a Monrovia medical unit near Tubmanburg, Liberia, Oct. 24, 2014. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Sgt. 1st Class Will Patterson)
U.S. Army Pfc. Walker Prinz, center, cuts wood at a Monrovia medical unit near Tubmanburg, Liberia, Oct. 24, 2014. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Sgt. 1st Class Will Patterson)

Ebola related deployments to West Africa are expected to be about six months long, an Army spokesman said Monday, although an official decision on length has yet to be announced.

"With the active duty guys, they are anticipating six months," said Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, an Army spokeswoman. "I think it's best to be on the safe side to say that we are still determining that."

About 2,100 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers from 13 states will be deploying to West Africa in the spring 2015 to "replace forces in Senegal and Liberia who are supporting our whole-of-government response to the most devastating Ebola outbreak in history," a Nov. 14 Defense Department press release said.

Still, Defense officials are hesitant to announce when units including the 101st Airborne Division will be heading home, despite an announcement by the Minnesota Army National Guard's 34th Infantry Division headquarters that they will be replacing them in April.

"To keep it safe the Army is still working through the deployment timeline with no specific number attached to it," Conway said.

Hagel told reporters Nov. 16 that the use of Guard and Reserve troops in the Ebola mission is not a surprise.

"I think everybody knew from the beginning, because this is a rotational overall mission, that we would be requiring National Guard assistance and participation," he said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@monster.com

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