New York's Second Civil Support Team Certified
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The Department of Defense today announced that it has certified the New York National Guard's 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (CST) as operational.

Based at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, the unit is composed of 22 full-time National Guard Soldiers and Airmen trained to detect the presence of chemical, biological, and radiological agents or weapons. The 24th CST's primary mission is to assist emergency response agencies in the New York City metropolitan area.

The 2nd Civil Support Team, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia and one of the first ten created by the National Guard, has been operational since 2000. The 2nd CST responded to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and has regularly been on hand to assist law enforcement during major events like the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, and the U.S. Open.

"Like all New Yorkers, I appreciate the service of these well-trained and dedicated Soldiers and Airmen standing ready to defend the people of the State of New York," Governor David Paterson said. "Today's announcement reaffirms what we know to be true - New York is home to top public safety talent and is prepared to respond swiftly to those who would seek to bring harm to us. And while I am grateful for their readiness and expertise, I hope and pray that we will never need to call them to service."

The Division of Military and Naval Affairs began working to stand up a Civil Support Team in New York City in 2005. Funding for the initiative was first obtained from Congress in 2007.

The unit conducted its final validation exercise in June at the Fire Department New York's training center on Randall's Island. It normally takes 18 months to certify a Civil Support Team.

Today the Department of Defense notified Congress that the unit is "fully ready to assist civil authorities in responding to a domestic weapon of mass destruction incident, and possess the requisite skills, training, and equipment to be proficient."

"The certification of our New York National Guard's 24th Civil Support team marks an achievement on the part of our Soldiers and Airmen as well as city and state officials and our Congressional Delegation," said Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York.

"The Empire State's military and legislative leaders worked together to ensure the authorization and funding of this team, which will focus its efforts on working with local, state and federal emergency service agencies in the New York City metropolitan area," Murphy said.

"This effort also owes much to my predecessor, Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, who saw the need for a Civil Support Team based in New York City and pushed hard for it," he added.

"I also want to thank our National Guard men and women who have trained constantly over the past years to prepare our military force to respond and support civil authorities during the most unthinkable of incidents," Murphy said.

"The certification of the 24th CST makes New Yorkers safer and adds another layer of response for our first responders should that need arrive," he added.

"The New York City area remains a top target for terrorism, as our nation's epicenter of finance, media, and diplomacy," said Rep. Peter T. King. "That is why I have fought for years, along with Governor Paterson and Generals Murphy and Taluto, to secure funding to establish a Civil Support Team (CST) downstate to add an extra layer of protection against future attacks for the citizens and industries of New York. I applaud DoD's decision to certify a second CST for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Brooklyn, within the limits of New York City."

"This is a great day for the State of New York and the National Guard. The certification of this additional CST reassures the people of New York and the region that we are ready and able to meet any threat," Rep. Steve Israel said.

The 24th CST will soon occupy a new $1.7 million building build with federal economic stimulus monies at Fort Hamilton. There are also motor pool facilities there to accommodate the team's eight vehicles.

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