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Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams

In a commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in May 1998, President Bill Clinton announced that the nation would do more to protect its citizens against the growing threat of chemical and biological terrorism. As part of this effort, he said, the Department of Defense would form 10 teams to support state and local authorities in the event of an incident involving weapons of mass destruction.

The WMD Civil Support Teams were established to deploy rapidly to assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident; provide expert technical advice on WMD response operations; and help identify and support the arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They are joint units and, as such, can consists of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel, with some of these units commanded by Air National Guard lieutenant colonels.

The mission of Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) is to support local and state authorities at domestic WMD/NBC incident sites by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for additional military support.

The WMD civil support teams are able to deploy rapidly, assist local first-responders in determining the nature of an attack, provide medical and technical advice, and pave the way for the identification and arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They provide initial advice on what the agent may be, assist first responders in that detection assessment process, and are the first military responders on the ground, so that if additional federal resources are called into the situation, they can serve as an advance party that can liaise with the Joint Task Force Civil Support.

The units provide critical protection to the force, from the pre-deployment phase of an operation at Home Station through redeployment. They ensure that strategic national interests are protected against any enemy; foreign or domestic, attempting to employ chemical, biological, or radiological weapons - regardless the level of WMD/NBC threat. They are a key element of the Department of Defense's overall program to provide support to civil authorities in the event of an incident involving weapons of mass destruction in the United States.

They maintain the capability to mitigate the consequences of any WMD/NBC event, whether natural or man-made. They are experts in WMD effects and NBC defense operations.

These National Guard teams provide DoD's unique expertise and capabilities to assist state governors in preparing for and responding to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incidents as part of a state's emergency response structure. Each team consists of 22 highly skilled, full-time National Guard members who are federally resourced, trained and exercised, and employs federally approved CBRN response doctrine.

These units derive their origins in guidance from the US Congress which stated the need to "establish and equip small organizations in each of the 44 states not receiving initial RAID (Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection) element in 1999 to provide limited chemical/biological response capability".

With RAID teams renamed WMD-CST, the first 10 teams were based in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington; with each team being originally fielded in each of the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions. An additional 17 teams, were announced in January 2000, to be based in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia.

Federally-mandated WMD CSTs - Phase I
15 Aug 2001
New York
26 Jul 2001
29 Aug 2001
17 Oct 2001
29 Aug 2001
15 Aug 2001
14 Aug 2001
26 Jul 2001
California - South
29 Aug 2001
26 Jul 2001

These states were selected after a very careful and objective analysis that places the teams closest to the greatest number of people, minimizes response time within a geographical area, and reduces the overlap with other teams' areas of responsibility. The resulting distribution of the teams provides optimum response coverage for the entire population of the United States.

Stationing criteria used to identify the new locations included coverage of major metropolitan areas based on population density; minimizing overlap with existing WMD-CSTs and other DoD response elements; and availability of existing facilities and support capabilities. The population criteria explains why California, with 10 percent of the population of the nation, had a second team recommended for Northern California.

In Fiscal Year 2000, Congress established an additional 17 CSTs to expand the nation's capability and decrease response time for WMD incidents.

Federally-mandated WMD CSTs - Phase II
New (FY2000)
12 Mar 2002
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
11 Jan 2002
California - North
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
30 Apr 2002
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
11 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
11 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
17 Dec 2001
New (FY2000)
15 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
17 Dec 2001
New Mexico
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
26 Feb 2002
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002
South Carolina
New (FY2000)
11 Jan 2002
New (FY2000)
28 Jan 2002

The WMD Civil Support Teams are unique because of their federal-state relationship. They are federally resourced, federally trained and federally evaluated, and they operate under federal doctrine. But they will perform their mission primarily under the command and control of the governors of the states in which they are located. They will be, first and foremost, state assets. Operationally, they fall under the command and control of the adjutant generals of those states. As a result, they will be available to respond to an incident as part of a state response, well before federal response assets would be called upon to provide assistance.

If the situation were to evolve into an event that overwhelmed state and local response assets, the governor could request the president to issue a declaration of national disaster and to provide federal assistance. At that point, the team would continue to support local officials in their state status, but would also assist in channeling additional military and other federal assets in support of the local commander.

WMD Civil Support Teams are in no way connected with counterterrorism activities. The units do not have any counterterrorism capability or mandate. They are involved exclusively in consequence management activities. The civil support teams will link with the consequence managers in their jurisdictions. If federalized, the civil support teams would fall under the operational command and control of the recently established Joint Task Force-Civil Support, based in Norfolk, VA, and led by a National Guard brigadier general. Although it has no standing forces, the task force will respond to requests for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the purposes of domestic WMD consequence management support. It will have robust planning and command and control capabilities and the ability to mobilize a military task force quickly in support of FEMA requests. It will also have rapid access to military forces and quick reach-back capability to subject matter experts, labs and medical support.

Though the U.S. military already has several rapid response units that can perform a civil support mission for consequence management such as the Army's Technical Escort Units and the Marine Corps Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force, the WMD-CST are uniquely state-based in nature. Indeed, teams within the Department of Defense are military response teams developed to support force protection requirements associated with overseas warfighting missions. When considering their use domestically - albeit in support of civil authorities - the department must carefully weigh such use in light of potential threats against U.S. interests abroad. Furthermore, even if available for domestic use, these other response units would be available only as part of the federal response effort initiated by the president after state and local resources become overwhelmed.

WMD-CST units must undergo 15 months of individual and unit training. Following this, and as mandated by Congress, each WMD-CST units is evaluated for operational certification by the Secretary of Defense.

Each team has two large pieces of equipment, a mobile analytical laboratory that it deploys with, that is utilized for field analysis of chemical or biological agents, and they also have a uniform command suite that has the ability through multiplexing systems to provide interoperability of communications to the various and sundry responders who may be on scene.

On November 15, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced the stationing plan for five additional National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2001. These teams are scheduled for establishment and certification in fiscal 2003. The five additional teams are to be stationed in Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia, bringing the total number of National Guard WMD-CSTs to 32.

Federally-mandated WMD CSTs - Phase III
46th Alabama New (FY2001) 06 Mar 2003
73rd Kansas New (FY2001) 14 Mar 2003
51st Michigan New (FY2001) 05 Feb 2003
45th Tennessee New (FY2001) 05 Feb 2003
35th West Virginia New (FY2001) 05 Feb 2003

The Department of Defense notified Congress on February 26, 2002, that the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) from the Ohio National Guard, the 52nd WMD-CST stationed at Columbus, OH, was certified, and thus fully ready to assist civil authorities' response to a domestic weapon of mass destruction incident, and in possession of the necessary skills, training and equipment to be proficient in all mission requirements.

The Ohio team newly certified is part of the 17 teams authorized in the National Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal 2000. All 10 of the teams authorized in fiscal year 1999 had already been certified, while 15 of the 17 teams authorized in fiscal year 2000 were certified and five more teams authorized in fiscal year 2001 were being organized.

The Department of Defense notified Congress on April 30, 2002, that the 93rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) from the Hawaii National Guard and stationed at Honolulu, HI, was now certified.

It should be noted that, as of mid-2002, only 32 WMD-CSTs had officially been formed by the Department of Defense and were being federally resourced, trained, evaluated, and operated under federal doctrine. In addition to those 32, a number of other units existed within various state's National Guard with the WMD-CST designation, thus explaining the existence of more than 32 WMD-CST units. As far as can be ascertained, these units' missions are similar to the federally-mandated WMD-CSTs. These units are state-sponsored and do not, however, fall under the guidance of the Department of Defense as they were not expressely established by Congress.

On February 5, 2003, the US Department of Defense notified Congress that Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) from the West Virginia, Tennessee, and Michigan National Guard were now certified. These teams were thus considered fully ready to assist civil authorities respond to a domestic weapon of mass destruction incident, and possesses the requisite skills, training and equipment to be proficient in all mission requirements. They are the 35th WMD-CST, stationed at St. Albans, W. Va.; the 45th WMD-CST, stationed at Smyrna, Tenn; and the 51st WMD-CST, stationed at Augusta, Mich. These teams are part of the five teams authorized in the National Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal 2001 and brought the total number of certified teams to 30. As of this announcement, all 27 of the teams authorized in fiscal 1999 and 2000 had already been certified.

On March 6, 2003, the US Department of Defense notified Congress that the 46th WMD-CST from the Alabama National Guard, stationed in Montgomery, AL, was now certified. On March 14, 2003, the US Department of Defense notified Congress that the 73rd WMD-CST, stationed at Topeka, KS, from the Kansas National Guard was now certified. The certification of both of these units brought the total of certified WMD-CSTs to 32.

According to an AFPS story dated Jan. 20, 2004, plans were underway to stand up additional National Guard-staffed civil support teams. With $88 million recently approved to field 11 more teams, the DoD was reportedly planning to field a total of 55 WMD civil support teams.

On March 9, 2004, the Department of Defense announced that it had notified Congress of the fielding plan for 12 additional Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs). Congress had directed the establishment of 23 additional teams in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY03 and funded the establishment of the first 12 in the Defense Appropriations Act for FY04. The twelve scheduled for FY04 are: Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Oregon, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, and Rhode Island. Precise locations were to be determined at the state, territory, and district level.

Federally-mandated WMD CSTs - Phase IV
14th Connecticut New (FY2004) 24 Jul. 2006
21st New Jersey New (FY2004) 28 Nov. 2005
42nd North Carolina New (FY2004) 24 Jul. 2006
53rd Indiana New (FY2004) 28 Nov. 2005
54th Wisconsin New (FY2004) 08 Feb. 2006
32nd Maryland New (FY2004) 21 Sep. 2006
102nd Oregon New (FY2004) 24 Jul. 2006
47th Mississippi New (FY2004) 21 Sep. 2006
85th Utah New (FY2004) 30 May 2007
92nd Nevada New (FY2004) 30 May 2007
72nd Nebraska New (FY2004) 08 Feb. 2006
13th Rhode Island New (FY2004) 24 Jul. 2006

On November 22, 2004, the Department of Defense announced that it had notified Congress of the fielding plan for 11 new Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs). The fielding and certification of these final 11 teams will bring the total number of WMD-CSTs to 55. The eleven teams that were to be funded in the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 05 were: The District of Columbia, Delaware, Guam, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Federally-mandated WMD CSTs - Phase V
33rd District of Columbia New (FY2005) 06 Apr 2007
31st Delaware New (FY2005) 01 Feb 2007
94th Guam New (FY2005)  
83rd Montana New (FY2005) 01 Feb 2007
81st North Dakota New (FY2005) 01 Feb 2007
12th New Hampshire New (FY2005) 01 Feb 2007
22nd Puerto Rico New (FY2005) 18 Dec 2007
82nd South Dakota New (FY2005) 13 Jul 2007
23rd U.S. Virgin Islands New (FY2005)  
15th Vermont New (FY2005) 01 Feb 2007
84th Wyoming New (FY2005) 14 Mar 2007

On 28 Nov., 2005, DoD announced that it had notified Conrgess that day that the 21st WMD-CST from the New Jersey National Guard, stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., and the 53rd WMD-CST from the Indiana National Guard, stationed at Indianapolis, Ind, were now certified.

On Feb 8, 2006, DoD announced that the 54th WMD-CST, stationed in Madison, Wis., and the 72nd WMD-CST, stationed in Lincoln, Neb., were now now certified.

On Jul 25, 2006, DoD announced that the 13th WMD-CST in Coventry, RI, the 14th WMD-CST in Windsorlock, CN, the 42nd WMD-CST in Greenville, NC, and the 102nd WMD-CST in Salem, OR, were now certified.

On September 21, 2006, DoD announced that the 32nd WMD-CST at Fort Meade, MD, and the 47th WMD-CST in Jackson, MS, were now certified.

On February 1, 2007, DoD announced that the 12th WMD-CST of Concord, N.H., the 15th WMD-CST of South Burlington, Vt., the 31st WMD-CST of Wilmington, Del., the 81st WMD-CST of Bismarck, N.D., and the 83rd WMD-CST were now certified

On March 14, 2007, DoD announced that the 84th WMD-CST of Cheyenne, Wyo. was now certified

On April 06, 2007, DoD announced that the 33rd WMD-CST of Washington, District of Columbia, was now certified, thus bringing the total number of teams certified by DoD to 49.

On May 30, 2007, DoD announced that the 85th WMD-CST of Lehi, Utah and the 92nd WMD-CST of Las Vegas, NV, were now certified.

On July 13, 2007, DoD announced that the 82nd WMD-CST of Rapid City, S.D., was now certified.

On December 18, 2007, DoD announced that the WMD-CST of the Puerto Rico National Guard was now certified

On June 2, 2009, DoD announced that the WMD-CSTs of the Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard were now certified

On November 30, 2010, DoD announced that it had notified Congress that the 24th WMD-CST, based in Brooklyn, NY, had been certified, making it the 2nd WMD-CST certified for the New York National Guard.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:37:51 ZULU