Lt. Col. Sara So, commander of the 51st Civil Support Team, and 1st. Sgt. Adam Stock discuss exercise details during training to enhance interagency effectiveness between the Michigan National Guard and its emergency response partners. The training took place at Ford Field in Detroit Jan. 11, 2024.
Lt. Col. Sara So, commander of the 51st Civil Support Team, and 1st. Sgt. Adam Stock discuss exercise details during training to enhance interagency effectiveness between the Michigan National Guard and its emergency response partners. The training took place at Ford Field in Detroit Jan. 11, 2024. (Photo Credit: Master Sgt. Helen Miller) VIEW ORIGINAL

DETROIT - Highly specialized teams from the Michigan Army National Guard trained with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies during a countering weapons of mass destruction response exercise.

More than 30 members of the Michigan Army National Guard 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team used Detroit’s Huntington Place and Ford Field, the home stadium of the Detroit Lions NFL team, to conduct annual joint chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosives detection and mitigation training Jan. 11.

In 2024, Detroit will host multiple large-scale events, including the 2024 NFL Draft in the spring and the National Guard Association of the United States annual conference in the summer. Working together, the 51st CST WMD team and law enforcement train regularly to maintain peace and security at high-profile events such as these.

“That is exactly why we are here,” said Lt. Col. Sara So, commander of the 51st CST. “We want every Detroiter and visitor to Detroit to feel safe at all events.”

The purpose of the training is to enhance the interagency effectiveness of the Michigan National Guard and its emergency response partners. Those partners include the FBI weapons of mass destruction team, FBI special agent explosive technicians, Michigan State Police, and Detroit Police explosives team.

The National Guard civil support team provides an initial assessment of incidents, to advise and assist state emergency management teams, Michigan National Guard leaders and federal officials. To keep their skills sharp, members of the 51st CST regularly exercise with law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

“Relationships are critical for us,” said So. “... We need to be able to work together effectively in a short amount of time with the partner agencies.”

The 51st CST responds when there is a terroristic threat of using a weapon of mass destruction, the release of nuclear, biological or other toxic poisonous chemical materials, or when a disaster occurs.

“The CST conducts at least eight training events of this type a year, many with their interagency partners and different first responders across the state,” said So. “This training is vitally important to not just the Michigan National Guard, but also to our partner agencies. It’s imperative that we work together frequently to stay proficient as experts and to understand how we can work as one in an emergent situation. We don’t want an emergency situation to be the first time that we’re working together.

The Michigan National Guard’s 51st Civil Support Team Weapons of Mass Destruction unit is based out of Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta.

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