KETTERING, Ohio (Army News Service, Feb. 5, 2008) - Soldiers from the 637th Chemical Company gathered Jan. 12 to display and demonstrate their newest weapon in the fight against terrorism - the Joint Biological Point Detection System.

The JBPDS represents the most advanced biological threat detection and identification system in the world, officials said and last month marked its inception into the National Guard.

The National Guard is fielding 12 additional units in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington, California, Texas, Missouri, Minnesota and New Jersey.

"This is the first time the National Guard has had this capability," said Air Force Col. Daniel Berry, joint project manager for biological defense. "And since the National Guard takes care of both civilians and military members, they now have the fastest response times available because of the Biological Integrated Detection System."

The 637th, which comprises the agent identification and decontamination piece of Ohio's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives, or CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, is the first chemical unit in the National Guard to receive the BIDS-JBPDS. The unit now has seven four-man teams operating the system and they are ready to put it to use.

"We were picked because of our strong readiness and our performance at Vigilant Guard (a May 2007 training exercise)," said Brig. Gen. Jack Lee, commander of the 73rd Troop Command. "What it boils down to is the capabilities we can bring to the citizens of Ohio and the United States."

"Whether you have thousands who die or zero depends on your detection ability," Berry said. "...Ohio is now on the forefront of chemical detection and protection."

The BIDS-JBPDS can detect and identify up to 10 agents at once and a broad catalog of other threats, officials said, adding that it offer protection to civilians and military members both at home and abroad. It features an onboard generator, sealed rear passenger compartment and global positioning systems which communicate and track other BIDS-JBPDS units. They are completely automated and fully mobile.

"Almost instantaneous detection is a great capability for us as it can potentially save lives," Lee said.

(Spc. Ryan A. Cleary serves with the 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. ARNEWS Correspondent J.D. Leipold also contributed to this article.)