41st Civil Support Team demonstrates skill in combating weapons of mass destruction during U.S. Army North exercise

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Philip Speck
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of a highly specialized Kentucky National Guard unit demonstrated their skill in combating weapons of mass destruction during an emergency-response exercise held here Oct. 2.

The 41st Civil Support Team-Weapons of Mass Destruction, a unique group of Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen, was called in to participate in the U.S. Army North training scenario after hunters stumbled across a bobby-trapped cabin laden with simulated explosives, said Kentucky Army Guard Maj. John Cline, the team's commander.

The hunters contacted local authorities, triggering a police special-response team to clear the building. When police discovered more bomb-like materials, they asked the 41st CST to investigate.

The scenario is a perfect example of the kinds of threats the unit was created to address, Cline said.

One of more than 50 National Guard CSTs located around the country, the 41st was established in 2000 to support civilian emergency preparedness programs and to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and the deployment of nuclear, biological, radiological or chemical weapons, Cline said.

The Kentucky unit features 22 full-time Airmen and Soldiers with expertise in 15 career fields, including medical, communications, logistics and environmental operations.

The U.S. Army North exercise required the 41st CST to carefully survey the scene, determine what kinds of chemicals were being used, and assess the threat they posed to the surrounding area.

Team members took samples of all the materials on the scene and analyzed them at their temporary base of operations.

"Being exposed to this type of scenario allows us to hone our core skills of WMD exploitation while dealing with the austere environment of terrain and extreme distance from target area to our footprint," Cline said. "This created challenges for navigation, communication, personnel management and security."

The scenario was designed by Cline, who coordinated with U.S. Army North, the agency that oversaw and evaluated the team's performance in executing the exercise.

The 41st CST performs similar exercises at least once a month to prepare for any kind of incident, Cline said. The unit can be called upon at any time to support civil authorities at a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident by identifying agents, assessing the current and projected consequences, advising authorities on how to respond, and assisting in saving lives, preventing human suffering and mitigating property damage.

Headquartered at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, the unit has supported many local events such as the Kentucky Derby, Thunder over Louisville, the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2009 Ryder Cup. Its members also have been called to support national events such as the Presidential Inauguration and the Super Bowl.

The 41st CST's first commander was Kentucky Air National Guard Col. Neil Mullaney, who currently is director of air staff for Joint Force Headquarters--Kentucky. Mullaney previously served as commander of the 123rd Maintenance Squadron and Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team III.

The unit is always seeking current Active Guard-Reserve Airmen who would be interested in joining, Cline noted.

"It takes a joint effort to develop a team of this type and of this caliber," he said. "We are always looking for the right people that have the potential to be a member of this team. Having Army and Air members allows the 41st to be a well-rounded, successful organization. "