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NEWS | Oct. 28, 2019

ARNORTH evaluates ANG Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team

By Lt. Col. Angela King-Sweigart Joint Force Headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard

Evaluators from U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston observed the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team Oct. 25, checking on its ability to identify nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological contaminants, advise on response measures and assist with requests for support during notional training scenarios set at Clark Summit State Hospital and Steam Town National Historic Park.

At Clark Summit State Hospital, the notional scenario involved a biological threat. The team had to respond to an attack that used the cholera organism. At the Steam Town National Historic Park location, a suspicious box truck was notionally making individuals ill and was found to contain radiological contaminants. The team was expected to respond quickly and identity the causes and also to take precautions to not spread the contaminants. Both scenarios used all components of the team.

“Our team is a 22-person full-time unit and everyone is AGR. It is comprised of 18 Army and 4 Air Force personnel. We have a bunch of different sections. You have your command section, you have your operations section, logistics, decontamination, medical, analytical and our survey section,” said U.S. Army Maj. Frank Brown, commander of the unit.

Army North command representative Jay B. Norris was on hand to evaluate the unit.

“Our team evaluates 54 of the 57 teams located nationwide,” he said. "U.S. Army North evaluates at events like this and also provides additional training to the teams to support the commander and provide best practices. Today’s training is going well."

The 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team is a unique unit in the Pennsylvania National Guard. All its members are highly-trained, full-time, and oncall with an advance team that can respond in 90 minutes, according to U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Wood, director of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s joint staff. It is one of 57 National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams located throughout the U.S. with about one team in each state.

“The CST team is a critical part of our domestic response,” Wood said. “They continue to be on call. We’ve received calls that are scheduled and unscheduled. They can be utilized by the local community as well as the state national level. The team responds to more than 20 events annually."

Members of the team are dedicated professionals.

“The National Guard is my home. This is the greatest job I’ve ever had and I’ll probably stay with it until I retire,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jacob Derivan, the 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction deputy commander and science officer.

Assisting with the exercise were members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, County of Lackawanna, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Army North and the 5th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team out of Illinois.

The Pennsylvania Guard is one of the most deployed National Guards in the nation and headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

In addition to its federal mission, the Pennsylvania National Guard responds to domestic emergencies, working with its state agency the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and dozens of federal, state and local agencies. The Pennsylvania National Guard maintains a joint operations center at Fort Indiantown Gap staffed by Pennsylvania Guard members 24/7 that support its domestic mission.