January 28, 2009

34th CST defends Nation’s Capital at inauguration

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — Virginia Guardsmen of the 34th Civil Support Team deployed to the nation’s capital in support of the 56th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 18-21 as a part of the approximately 100-person Task Force CBRN.

During the four-day operation the 16 Soldiers and two Airmen of the 34th CST accompanied CSTs from D.C. and Maryland to provide civil support in case of a chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear or high yield explosive attack to the inauguration and events around the city.

The Task Force deployed teams throughout the city over the course of the deployment. Rapid Detection Teams partnered with FBI, D.C. fire departments and D.C. Metro Police to provide protection to the over 1.8 million people who gathered on the city to see the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, sworn in to office.

In addition to the RDTs two Rapid Support Teams provided communication technical decontamination, and analytical support to the teams in the field.

During the days the RDTs were patrolling the city and providing security to the concerts at the Lincoln Memorial and the parade route the day of the inauguration. In the evening they provided support and security to the many balls at the Washington Convention Center

The 34th CST was first given warning of their mission in October and began planning accordingly, said Lt. Col. Bill Mahoney, commander of the 34th CST. The CST then began planning and training in D.C. with local fire teams and other CSTs so they would be ready on the day of the inauguration.

Through their aggressive planning and coordination with civilian agencies in the metro D.C. area the CST was able to integrate effortlessly with the civilian officials and departments.

Fortunately, there were no serious incidents for the CST to respond to, but the relationships built during this event will solidify the CSTs effectiveness in future missions.

“With all the planning we did for this event and the training conducted in the CST through communication with the FBI, the fire departments, the police departments and other agencies for this event we will be able to make better coordination in the future through the contacts we made,” said Mahoney. “The relationships that were built will be there for the future.”

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