National Guard CSTs remained active in 2011
The CSTs were established in 1998 and have been operating as full-time federally-funded National Guard units since 2001. They operate in support of local civil authorities to respond to events known or suspected of involving weapons of mass destruction, including the use of biological warfare agents, according to HSToday.us.
"We're able to respond to an actual or suspected terrorist WMD incident and intentional and non-intentional release of CBRNE materials or natural or man-made disaster in the United States that has caused or can cause catastrophic loss of property," Frank Hudoba, the National Guard bureau chief for the CSTs, said, HSToday.us reports.
Currently, 57 CSTs are deployed throughout the United States, although budget cuts call for the elimination of second teams recently added in New York state and Florida.
CSTs operate under federal doctrine, but while performing missions they are generally placed under the command and control of the states in which they are located. This division in command allows the CSTs to respond faster to an emergency. A CST can typically deploy within three hours of notification.
In addition to deployments involving white powder incidents, suspicious substances, chemical hazards and suspicious labs, CSTs were called on 504 times in 2011 for standby missions. These included national and state special security events, sporting events and political gatherings.