An Army medical unit from Fort Meade flew out of Andrews Air Force Base today, bound for Saudi Arabia, leaving the fort in Anne Arundel County with only one of its three active duty battalions still on base.
Fort Meade spokesman Don McClow said the 85th Medical Battalion was ordered yesterday afternoon to board a bus for Andrews Air Force Base by 2 a.m. today.
An Air Force spokesman at Andrews said the battalion then boarded a flight at Andrews and took off at 7:20 a.m. today to join the Desert Shield operation in Saudi Arabia.
The 85th has known since mid-August that it would be deployed, but the final orders came on short notice yesterday afternoon.
"You're going tomorrow. Boom," McClow said.
The battalion has an authorized strength of 246 people, including physicians, field ambulance personnel and medics. Their mission includes providing surgery, general medical care and field ambulance service.
The last units of Fort Meade's 519th Military Police Battalion went to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 7. Fort Meade's third battalion, the Headquarters Command Battalion, will not be deployed, McClow said.
Other Army units, including reserves, continue the basic mission at Fort Meade. The medical staff at the fort's Kimbrough Army Community Hospital, for example, already includes civilian doctors under contract, McClow said. Some of the nurses are from the Army Reserves and from the U.S. Civil Service. The medical battalion deploying today had provided supplemental staff there.