March 12, 2008

34th CST responds during D.C.-based scenario

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Aaron Mutter, survey team chief with the 34th CST, performs ambient air quality monitoring with a multi-gas/ photoionization detector and gamma spectrometer. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON, D.C. Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard 34th Civil Support Team took part in a three day, multi-state training exercise called Capital Spear from March 4-6.

During the exercise, the 34th CST conducted realistic, scenario-driven training exercises that required the team to work jointly with other civilian agencies at several venues in a chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear environment.

Approximately 140 Soldiers and Airmen from National Guard Civil Support Teams from Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and West Virginia took part in the exercise along with Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region, the Department of Energy, Metro Transit Authority and the Naval District of Washington.

The goal of the training was to improve information flow among civil support teams and with civil authorities, test ability of teams to interact and function jointly, implement lessons learned from previous real-world operations and build on past successes.

Exercises, such as Capital Spear, have helped CSTs across the nation develop a professional relationship with emergency responders at the local level, and have gained acceptance and credibility.

In one scenario, the 34th CST “discovered” a terrorist cell torture chamber and improvised explosive device manufacturing site. In another, the team answered a call for help from the Metro Transit Authority after a bomb containing radioactive material exploded on a Metro train.

Maj. Terry Thiem, deputy commander of the 34th CST, coordinates with Officer Jason Mangen of the Metro Transit Police Department during Capital Spear, a three day, multi-state training exercise. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)



CST members undergo between 550-750 hours of individual training upon joining a CST.  Many hours are spent in Collective Lanes Training with their entire CST unit at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and other collective training site across the U.S. as part of their certification process.  Once certified, units participate annually in training exercises with the local emergency responder communities they support. The teams achieve states of training and readiness that result in successful mission accomplishment with minimal risk.

“The individual and collective training that the Soldiers and Airmen in the 34th CST receive prepares them to better protect of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Lt. Col. Bill Mahoney, commander 34th CST.

Growing evidence from the states and municipalities indicates that CSTs are an integral part of the planning and operations of the communities they serve. Civil entities are increasingly looking to the CSTs to play a role in all aspects of their WMD needs. CST assistance to local communities includes training on common equipment and procedures.

“The 34th CST has in the past, and will continue in the future, to work with our interagency counterparts.  Cooperation is the key to success in any mission,” said Mahoney.

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