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Fort Bragg unit to join others in coronavirus response

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By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: March 28, 2020

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(Tribune News Service) — Soldiers with the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command will join the U.S. Army North in response to the coronavirus, officials announced  Thursday night.

The 3rd ESC, which is based at Fort Bragg, will be among 1,100 soldiers deploying to provide defense support of civil authorities in response to the virus, called COVID-19, officials said.

The 3rd ESC was asked to send 253 of its soldiers to support the mission, a spokeswoman for the unit said.

The soldiers will provide medical, planning, communication, transportation and logistics support.

They will assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New York and Washington state and will not participate in civilian law enforcement activities, officials said.

Other units supporting the mission are: The Joint Task Force-Civil Support Headquarters from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion from Fort Stewart, Georgia.

All will be under the leadership of U.S. Army North, which is headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said the units are able to rapidly deploy to support U.S. government partners across the nation with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's direction.

"We have trained with our federal, state and local partners to be ready to respond at a moment's notice to help the American people in their time of greatest need," Richardson said.

A spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps said no other Fort Bragg units have been called upon at this time to respond to the virus outbreak, but they are ready, if needed.

During a March 18 virtual town hall meeting, Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, said the 44th Medical Brigade is among the units with capabilities.

The 44th Medical Brigade has an area medical lab, biophysicists and technicians who could assist with testing, Kurilla said.

There are also field hospital and combat support hospital capabilities, he said.

"But what we're doing right now is an analysis of all of that as we await direction from higher," Kurilla said, adding that some of the capabilities could be needed to support Womack Army Medical Center, locally.

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