Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST)

U.S. National Guard

Biography

The U.S. military domestic CBRN Response Enterprise includes National Guard units assigned to the National Guards Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs), CBRN Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERFPs), and Homeland Response Forces (HRFs).

The mission of the WMD-CST is to support civil authorities at a domestic CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives) incident site with identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities, and facilitating the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents.

Each team is composed of 22 highly trained, full-time members of the Army and Air National Guard. The teams are federally resourced, trained, and evaluated, but operates in Title 32 status under the command and control of the state governor.

The WMD-CST teams utilize an Analytical Laboratory Suite (ALS) which provides a science-based analysis capability for CBRNE samples to identify threats from a potentially contaminated environment. Within the compartments of the ALS, operators have the ability to prepare, extract, analyze and store environmental samples and to document environmental conditions.

Threat Agent characterization is conducted in the ALS through:

  • Electrochemical Luminescence
  • Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy
  • Infrared Spectroscopy
  • Polarized Light Microscopy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Immunoassay Lateral Flow Devices and Tickets
  • High Purity Germanium Gamma Spectroscopy
  • Fluorescence Microscopy

The WMD-CST teams employ a mobile Unified Command Suite (UCS) which has the ability to cross-band multiple radio systems to allow uniform communication across multiple agencies. The UCS can also establish and maintain communications within the entire CST footprint and with higher headquarters, other responding elements and reach back Subject Matter Experts. Often, the UCS augments incident command communications as available and within its capabilities.

Congress authorized 17 additional CSTs in 2000, five more in 2001, and 23 more in 2005 for a total of 55 CSTs.