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Fort Bragg soldiers on standby to deploy for more coronavirus response

A sign at one of the entrances to Fort Bragg. (Fish Cop./WikiCommons)

Soldiers with the 82nd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bragg are on standby to deploy for coronavirus pandemic support if needed officials said Monday.

The brigade’s 249th Composite Supply Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, received the “prepare to deploy” order about March 31, said Sgt. 1st Class Jaquetta Gooden, a spokeswoman for the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.

Gooden said if the unit is deployed, it would fall under the U.S. Army North Command to support civil authorities in efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

It is unclear how many soldiers would deploy, but Gooden said the entire company, which has about 162 paratroopers assigned to it, is prepared to join the fight against the virus, if needed.

“They are prepared to go and provide world-class support whenever and wherever called upon,” Gooden said.

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The unit’s capabilities include being equipped with general supplies, petroleum support, water purification and shower and laundry services.

The unit can store about 500,000 gallons of fuel and 300,000 gallons of water and can produce about 130,000 gallons of freshwater and 100 gallons of saltwater in 20 hours, she said.

About 20 soldiers with the 44th Medical Brigade’s Headquarters deployed April 7 to support operations at the Javits Convention Center hospital in New York City.

Part of the mission is monitoring the movement of patients in and out of the Javits center, said Command Sgt. Maj. Fergus Joseph of the 44th Medical Brigade.

Last week’s deployment came after more than 250 soldiers with Fort Bragg’s 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command deployed after receiving March 26 orders.

Officials said the Fort Bragg units are supporting local, state and federal partners, while under leadership of U.S. Army North and the U.S. Northern Command.

A news release from the U.S. Northern Command on Friday said the Javits center hospital is one of three Department of Defense-supported locations in the nation providing support to coronavirus patients in convalescent care or who are low-acuity, meaning they require a lower level of medical care.

In an interview with Fox News, Col. Kimberlee Aiello, commander of the 44th Medical Brigade, said the center is taking lower-risk patients who have tested positive for the virus so local hospitals can focus on patients with more severe symptoms.

Aiello said there’s also the possibility of soldiers stepping in to help give a break to nurses and medical care providers “on the front lines” at 11 area hospitals.

The Javits Convention Center hospital has a 3,000-bed capacity, including 48 intensive care beds, Aiello said.

Soldiers with the 36th Area Support Medical Company and 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Attachment have also deployed since last week, said Lt. Col. Allie Payne, a spokeswoman for the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.

Payne said multiple Fort Bragg units remain on prepare to deploy orders, with some units asked to deploy on a 96 or 48 order notice.

“This includes but is not limited to medical providers, medical support, quartermaster and mortuary affairs, food service, and a composite supply company,” she said.

U.S. Army North would determine locations of where the soldier would deploy, if needed, Payne said.

Payne said soldiers with units that include the 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 44th Medical Brigade and 16th Military Police Brigade remain at Fort Bragg to assist with Womack Army Medical Center with its drive thru testing site.

“Amid increased health protection conditions and staffing reductions Fort Bragg maintains its ability to deploy ready forces as requested by the nation, for any mission,” Payne said. “We took precautions early such as minimum essential manning and quarantine measures to slow the spread and ensure the health of our force.”

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© 2020 The Fayetteville Observer