About a month prior to celebrating its tenth year as a full-time emergency response unit for the state of North Dakota, the 81st Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) was awarded the North Dakota National Guard’s State Outstanding Unit Citation.
The two-dozen Soldiers and Airmen who comprise the unit received the distinction during a formal award ceremony today at Fraine Barracks in Bismarck.
“It truly is a privilege to present you with this honor; a testimony to the 81st CST’s excellence and professionalism,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, who presented the award to the unit. “You have continually demonstrated stellar performance in both exercises and real-world missions. This unit is a highly-valued resource to our communities and is a key asset for protecting and supporting the citizens of North Dakota.”
The State Outstanding Unit Citation recognizes individual units and its assigned military personnel for their contributions towards the improvement of combat readiness and unit preparedness. It is awarded to all service members of the unit and authorizes them to permanently wear the decoration on their military dress uniforms.
“This citation serves as reminder to the new members of our team about the high standards and hard work that came before. As we reenter the evaluation cycle, we will continue to strive to protect the reputation of this outstanding organization,” said Lt. Col. Steven Hedrick, 81st CST commander.
The 81st CST garnered the recognition for their exceptional performance during a National Guard Bureau Standardization Evaluation and Assistance Team (SEAT) evaluation conducted in April 2011, when it received a 99 percent compliance rating. The biennial evaluation requires examination of the eight functional requirements of CST members: personnel, medical, training and operations, logistics, physical security, safety, budget and communications.
In addition to its SEAT evaluation score, the 81st CST earned praise during its Training Proficiency Evaluation for November 2012. Administered by U.S. Army North’s (USARNORTH) Charlie Division, Civil Support Training Activity, the evaluation tests the CSTs capabilities and assess the unit on a number of tasks, including establishing secure communications, maintaining an operations center, conducting technical decontamination, establishing medical support, identifying agents and conducting interagency coordination. CSTs nationwide are required to gain certification from USARNORTH every 18 months. The North Dakota unit was recognized as 100 percent “trained” during the evaluation in 2012 and again last year in May 2014.
On standby around the clock and capable of responding within 90 minutes, CSTs are highly-specialized units that are trained and equipped to assist civilian first responders when reacting to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive agents. The 81st CST regularly trains with local, state and federal agencies during emergency response training exercises. The unit also has an accomplished record providing real-world support to civil authorities in North Dakota. In July 2014, the 81st CST conducted an air sample mission to identify potentially hazardous agents in Williston, North Dakota. The unit responded after a warehouse, which stored dozens of chemicals, started on fire at the site of an oil field supply company.
The 81st CST will continue to provide support at local and national venues in the coming months, including assisting other CSTs at the Boston Marathon in April, NASCAR in Kansas in May and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota in August.
Nationally, there are 57 CSTs – one in each state, U.S. territory and Washington, D.C.; with two each in California, Florida and New York.
Article courtesy of North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs, edited for context and format.