Task Force Liberty provides relief for Afghans at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

August 30, 2021

WRIGHTSTOWN, NJ (BURLINGTON)- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for up to 50,000 Afghans at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible.

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst personnel have set up Liberty Village and in the process of a Liberty Village expansion for temporary housing on the base. All branches of services from around the country have deployed at various bases including MDL in support of Task Force Liberty.

Governor Murphy on Friday signed Executive Order No. 256, establishing the Task Force on Afghan Refugee Assistance to report directly to the Office of the Governor. The task force will be chaired by Adjutant General and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) Brigadier General Dr. Lisa J. Hou and will serve to coordinate State efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the arrival of Afghan refugees and SIV holders in New Jersey.

“As Afghan refugees arrive at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, we must act to ensure that the State is prepared to adequately receive and assist these individuals that courageously assisted our country in the War on Terror,” said Governor Murphy. “Our newly established task force will oversee efforts to welcome refugees and their families to their new lives in the United States and New Jersey. I have full trust and confidence in the Adjutant General to lead this task force in coordinating our response to the ongoing arrival of refugees to our state.”

“The Task Force stands ready to support our mission partners,” said Adjutant General and DMAVA Commissioner Brigadier General Dr. Lisa J. Hou. “We recognize the sacrifice of our Afghan allies and American and NATO service members these past 20 years. We pledge every effort to alleviate the human tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan.”

Adjutant General and DMAVA Commissioner Hou is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, where she served as a field surgeon and sole medical provider on an Afghanistan National Army base and was responsible for providing routine and advanced emergency medical care in the combat theater for more than 600 coalition soldiers, contractors, and foreign nationals.

In addition to Commissioner of DMAVA, the Task Force will consist of the Chief of Staff to the Governor, the Chief Counsel to the Governor, the Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Disaster Recovery Office, and the Commissioners or other heads of the following Executive Branch departments and agencies, or their designees:

  • The Department of Law & Public Safety;
  • The New Jersey State Police;
  • The Department of Health;
  • The Department of Human Services;
  • The Department of Children & Families;
  • The Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness;
  • The Department of State;
  • The Department of Community Affairs;
  • The Department of Transportation; and
  • The Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  

The task force will be responsible for:

  • Developing a mechanism for identifying Afghan refugees who arrive in New Jersey and plan to remain for some period of time;
  • Managing internal efforts among Executive Branch departments and agencies to welcome and provide support to Afghan refugees and SIV holders as they arrive and/or resettle in New Jersey;
  • Coordinating communications with representatives of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense, regarding the relocation of Afghan refugees;
  • Overseeing the provision of vital support and emergency healthcare services for those who need it upon arrival in New Jersey, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination as needed;
  • Creating an intake mechanism for organizations and individuals seeking to provide aid and support to Afghan refugees to contact the Task Force, evaluating and keeping track of such organizations and individuals, and connecting such organizations and individuals with those in need of assistance; and
  • Providing any other necessary supports to ensure the safe entry and relocation to New Jersey of Afghan refugees.

Copy of Executive Order No. 256

The Big Red One and Fort Riley troops deploy in support of Afghan evacuees

The Department of Defense recently approved a request for assistance from the State Department to provide temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for vulnerable Afghans at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Fort Lee, Virginia.

Approximately 500service members from the 1stInfantry Division and Fort Riley will provide support to Fort McCoy, Fort Lee, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to assist in these efforts as part of the task force located there. The soldiers from Fort Riley will be joining service members from Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as part of III Corps’ overall mission, which was announced earlier this week. U.S. Northern Command is the Department of Defense’s lead combatant command for this mission in the continental United States and is providing oversight in support of the Department of State. U.S. Army North, as U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command, is the lead operational command for this mission. The task forcesat Fort McCoy, Fort Lee and JBMDL will provide housing, medical, logistics, and transportation support.

“When our Nation calls, The Big Red One and Fort Riley always answer with action; our troops are highly trained and ready to respond to any mission, anytime and anywhere,” said Lt. Col. Alex Tignor, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley spokesperson. “The Big Red One, military police, medical professionals, and logistics soldiers—men and women—deploying to these temporary housing sites are proud to join task forces U.S. Army North, U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Defense teams at Fort McCoy, Fort Lee and JBMDL in supporting the State Department with this mission.”

The Department of Defense authorized Fort Lee, Va.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Fort Pickett, Va.; and Holloman AFB, N.M. to provide temporary housing and support for vulnerable Afghans in support of Operation Allies Refuge.

The New York Air National Guard is sending 117 Airmen to assist in this mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh is sending 45 Airman.

The 106th Rescue Wing at F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach is sending 33 Airmen.

The 107th Attack Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is sending 13 Airmen.

The 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia is contributing 13 Airman.

And the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse is sending 13 Airmen.