Across the United States, the Department of Defense through the National Guard operates 57 Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams. There is one WMD CST for each state and territory, with Florida, California and New York each having two teams.
Each team has 22 members who are trained to at least the hazmat tech level and have completed more than 650 hours of high-tech training. The teams work with local and state agencies when there is the threat of WMD incidents or when one actually happens. And they work with other federal agencies such as FBI.
Maine’s team, the 11th WMD CST, has all its members trained to hazmat specialist level and conducts monthly training with multiple local and federal agencies. This is on top of the unit’s daily training requirements.
“We have a minimum 72-hour commitment to conduct continuous operations for each response discipline,” one team leader said. “In order to meet this demand, we train with other like teams to boost team morale and increase the response management requirements.”
The 11th WMD CST prides itself on serving with the legacy of Maine Governor and Civil War General Joshua Chamberlain by being known for its deeds, not its words.
In addition to hazmat training, the team has multiple skill sets from medical, command, communications, survey, science, human resources and decontamination. Across the country, the teams are established to provide these resources during an incident or event.
- Assessment and exploitation of potential or actual WMD sites
- A2LA accredited field-confirmatory mobile laboratory for rapid threat identification
- Laboratory reach-back support from national network definitive identification laboratories
- Robust communications interoperability (secure/unsecure)
- CBRN medical expertise (physician assistant and medic on each WMD CST)
- CBRN hazard prediction plume modeling
- Technical support on-site or from remote locations
- Training assistance
The 11th WMD CST’s ongoing, challenging task is to work with the complexity of joint state and federal military command structure. These challenges, they say, can only be met by constant training and frequent networking.