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Story by: Lt. Col. Paul Fanning - JFHQ Public Affairs Officer, NY Army National Guard
Dated: Mon, May 21, 2007
FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. -- Major General Joseph J. Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York today announced Monday, May 21st that the future fielding of a second National Guard Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) has been significantly enhanced due to efforts by members of New York’s Congressional delegation.
“New York City remains a priority target of terrorists and the addition of a second National Guard Civil Support Team is essential to improving our readiness and ability to respond in the event of an attack,” said General Taluto. “The passage last week of the House Armed Services Committee mark up of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill also included an amendment from Congressman John McHugh that authorizes a second team, which opens the door now for the continued fielding process.”
“A CST at Fort Hamilton will give New York City’s first responders one more resource to draw upon in the event of a terrorist attack. While we have not been attacked since 9/11, we must always be prepared for every possible scenario,” said Congressman Vito Fossella at a press conference on Fort Hamilton to discuss the ongoing legislative support for the team’s authorization and funding.
Congressmen Vito Fossella and Peter King Monday joined with Major General Robert Knauff, Deputy Adjutant General of the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, to announce that several critical hurdles have been cleared in establishing the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
“This legislation and ongoing work by Congressmen Peter King and Vito Fossella, and Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni means New York is on track with this important initiative,” said Taluto.
New York State has been trying for more than 5 years to add a second Civil Support Team to its force structure to improve its ability to help protect the state and support civil authorities and locate it in the New York City metropolitan area.
“Manhattan is America’s financial capital and New York Harbor is the second largest port in the nation,” said Deputy Secretary Michael Balboni. “We have a long national border with Canada and New York is also bordered by two great lakes. Our National Guard is on duty every day here in New York in support of civil authorities with ongoing Homeland Defense missions, while also participating in federal overseas deployments and standing by to respond to the next natural disaster or terrorist attack here at home,” he said.
Capt. Michael Keyes, commander, 1st Civil Support Team-Weapons of Mass Destruction located at Stratton Airforce base, Scotia, N.Y. fields questions from local New York City media about the announcement of the second CST-WMD team to be established at Fort Hamilton, N.Y.The annoucement ceremony was held at Fort Hamilton on 21 May, 2007. Photo by SFC Steven Petibone, PA Specialist New York was among ten states in 1998 which began fielding civil support teams to respond to potential terrorist attacks. New York’s 2nd Civil Support Team was officially validated for service in 2000.
CSTs are federally funded high-tech National Guard units established under Presidential Decision Directive 39. On deployment, CSTs augment local and regional terrorism response capabilities in events known or suspected to involve Weapons of Mass Destruction.
WMD events are incidents involving hostile use of chemicals (such as nerve or blister agent), biological (for example, anthrax), or radiological agents. The team can be en route within two hours to support civil authorities in the event or suspicion of a WMD attack. The unit can detect and identify the presence of chemical, biological or radiological weapons and assist the civilian incident commander in responding to the affects of the attack and facilitate follow on support.
The 2nd CST was the first such National Guard team to respond to a terrorist attack (9-11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center) and since then has performed numerous missions in support of federal, state and local civil authorities by being forward deployed mostly in New York City for significant public events, where it monitored environmental conditions for the possible presence of chemical, biological or radiological agents. Since that time, New York’s 2nd CST has been regarded as the busiest CST in the nation.
Last year, New York’s Congressional delegation secured federal legislation appropriating some funds for a second CST for New York State under the leadership of Congressman Peter King of Long Island. However, further legislation was necessary to bring the fielding to fruition.
On 1 March, Deputy Secretary Michael Balboni orchestrated a meeting with members of New York’s Congressional delegation to clarify needed legislation. While the passage of the 2008 National Defense Authorization mark up was pending, New York began the selection and hiring of skilled military personnel for the new team, began the purchase process of advanced equipment and began to ready the future unit for fielding under the original federal appropriation in the prior Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Appropriations Act.
The Division of Military and Naval Affairs worked with Congressman Vito Fossella to locate the new unit at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, where presently the New York National Guard’s Task Force Empire Shield is based, providing ongoing security support to Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station in Manhattan and at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in Queens and at the state’s four nuclear power sites.
“The addition of a second Civil Support Team to New York will provide us with a much improved capability to respond and locating the team in New York City will speed the response there,” said Major General Taluto. “Our current team has shouldered a tremendous operational burden ever since 9-11, meeting every mission with skill and dedication. A second team will give our state the vital asset it needs in New York City and surrounding downstate areas and another team upstate capable of responding to an attack elsewhere or to reinforce in the New York City area if needed,” he said.