by ADELLE NAZARIAN
SAN FRANCISCO – The California Army National Guard is among six other National Guard units, totaling approximately 1,200 soldiers, that have been ordered to prepare for deployment to Ebola-stricken West Africa in order to help thwart the spread of the deadly hemorrhagic virus.
The other five units are from Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, and Utah, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Californians are from the San Francisco-based 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, the same battalion that was mobilized during the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake in order to help bridge a language barrier between English and non-English speakers at emergency centers, notes the Times. They also have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another 900 Army reservists are reportedly also being mobilized for what the Pentagon calls Operation United Assistance. The 1,200 battalion soldiers will reportedly not be dealing directly with Ebola patients.
The soldiers and reservists will also reportedly be providing training on Malaria prevention in addition to medical readiness. Malaria is another often deadly disease that has plagued the African continent for decades.
Following in line with standard protocols and procedures, the National Guard and Army soldiers will undergo a 21-day â€œcontrolled monitoring periodâ€ upon their return to the States to ensure they have not contracted Ebola.
The deployments have been scheduled for the early spring of 2015 in order to have them replace U.S. soldiers already in place in Liberia and Senegal, notes the Times. The schedule indicates that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is expected to continue for a significant amount of time.
Some experts estimate that up to five million people could die by the time the outbreak is contained.