U.K. announces return of Operation Gitrock personnel

The U.K. Ministry of Defense announced Friday that the final group of military personnel serving in aid efforts in Sierra Leone have returned.

The announcement states that approximately 1,500 British military personnel spent time in Sierra Leone as a part of Operation Gitrock over a 14-month period that began in September 2014. Their objective was the construction of six treatment centers, and over the course of the operation approximately 4,000 Sierra Leone and international health care workers received Ebola treatment and management training.

“For more than a year they showed immense bravery and dedication in extremely tough conditions,” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said. “They are a credit to our nation, they have saved a country. Despite being declared Ebola free, the U.K. response continues to ensure a ‘resilient zero.’ Post-Ebola, it is essential that we ensure the Sierra Leone has the capabilities, systems and structures in place to respond to a future outbreak of Ebola or other public health emergency.”

Through Operation Gitrock, approximately 70 Royal Engineers and 100 clinicians provided design and medical support to the Kerry Town Treatment Unit, the Ebola Training Academy and other treatment centers in the country. The announcement also states that Merlin helicopters from the 820 Naval Air Squadron and Royal Marines provided equipment and supply support for remote areas in Sierra Leone.

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Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom

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