Brooklyn-based National Guard unit holds validation exercise

A New York National Guard unit able to detect weapons of mass destruction underwent its final pre-certification evaluation during a special exercise and ceremony held Tuesday, according to National Guard officials.

Officials said there are now two civil support teams assigned to its force. The first, the 2nd CST based near Albany, was already in operation. The second, the 24th CST, based out of Fort Hamilton, in Brooklyn, was the team dedicated yesterday.

A National Guard spokesman said the civil support teams are specialized units made up of 22 full time Army and National Guardsman. These team members are specifically trained to respond to terrorist attacks where chemical, biological, radiological or explosive agents may have been used. These teams are able to rapidly mobilize and deploy to work with individual communities and civil authorities, officials said.

The civil support team program began in 1998 in response to federal legislation designed to help prepare the nation for terrorist attacks that could involve the use of weapons of mass destruction.

New York was among the ten charter states that held a unit validated for emergency response in 2000. New York's 2nd CST was the first to respond to an actual terrorist attack when it was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The civil support team program has grown rapidly in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Every state now has a civil support team. The teams routinely hold joint exercises with civilian fire departments and emergency response agencies as a way to streamline deployment and response.