By Walter T. Ham IV
20th CBRNE Command
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2015 – The 48th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Brigade’s headquarters will deploy to Liberia to command the reminding American forces supporting the U.S. effort to help contain the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
The brigade cased its colors during a ceremony at the 3rd Corps headquarters here today prior to its first deployment since being activated in 2007.
As many U.S. troops now deployed there return home from the Ebola mission in Liberia, the Fort Hood-based 48th CBRN Brigade will replace the Army’s 101st Airborne Division as the joint forces headquarters.
Brigade to Support USAID
The brigade will support the U.S. Agency for International Development and provide oversight of any required follow-on capabilities. Other response functions are being transitioned to civilian personnel.
"Troops are coming home, but the United States is not leaving West Africa," said Army Col. Sven Erichsen, the brigade’s commander.
"The civilian-led response will actually grow in size and number in the weeks ahead, to continue the fight against Ebola until there are zero cases," said Erichsen, a native of Forest Grove, Oregon.
The brigade is a part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the Defense Department's only formation that combats global chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives threats.
Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the 20th CBRNE Command is home to more than 85 percent of the active U.S. Army's CBRNE capabilities, including two explosive ordnance disposal groups, one chemical brigade, nuclear disablement teams, CBRNE coordination elements, expeditionary laboratories, remediation and consequence management units.
Another 20th CBRNE Command formation, the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, or 1st AML, deployed to Liberia in October 2014. The 1st AML commanded Task Force Scientist, a joint task force that operated six Ebola testing laboratories in Liberia.
Army Brig. Gen. JB Burton, commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command, said the 48th CBRN Brigade and 1st AML deployments demonstrate the flexibility of his one-of-a-kind command.
Burton said the two units’ deployments to Liberia “as part of the enduring U.S. commitment to understand and contain the Ebola virus” demonstrate that his command and the entire CBRNE enterprise must focus on more than weapons of mass destruction.
"We must be capable of and comfortable with operating effectively across the full spectrum of CBRNE hazards," he said.
In support of the U.S. Army's regional alignment efforts, the 48th CBRN Brigade serves with 3rd Corps in Europe, Africa and the Middle East; the 71st EOD Group operates with 1st Corps in the Asia Pacific region; and the 52nd EOD Group deploys with the 18th Airborne Corps on global response force missions.
"With the ever-evolving CBRNE threats facing our nation, we need to fully leverage and integrate all of our capabilities to confront and defeat CBRNE hazards," said Burton, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee.
"This deployment is another important first in the 20th CBRNE Command's history of service with distinction around the globe," Burton said.