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Governor Shapiro Attends PA National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team Evaluation Exercise

02/15/2023

Harrisburg, PA - Today, Governor Shapiro attended the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) two-day Training Proficiency Exercise at the Harrisburg International Airport. The WMD-CST team is being evaluated by U.S. Army North on its ability to identify nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological contaminants, advise on response measures, and assist with requests for support from local authorities. As Commander-in-Chief of the Pennsylvania National Guard, Governor Shapiro is committed to mission readiness and ensuring the safety of our children, families, and neighbors.

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“It was my honor today to meet with members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and support their work preparing our Commonwealth for the security challenges we face. This unit’s specialized and quick response capabilities to safeguard our communities is exactly what the Pennsylvania National Guard is known for,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “These brave women and men are highly skilled and ready to defend Pennsylvanians, and I am proud to work with members of the Guard to continue protecting our freedoms and ensuring public safety.”

“The intense training and extreme readiness of the 3rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team is another example of how the Pennsylvania National Guard works to make our communities safer,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s acting adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “After observing today’s exercise, it is clear that this team – on call at all times -- is ready to respond throughout the Commonwealth if any hazardous incident threatens the loss of life or property.”

“The CST brings a wide range of skills and specialized training to this exercise, and working with them in this setting helps us all see and understand their capabilities,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield. “They are a valuable partner to all levels of government in our mission to protect everyone in the Commonwealth.”

The 3rd WMD-CST is a 22-person joint Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard unit that can deploy rapidly to support civil authorities at a domestic Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear high-yield Explosives (CBRNE) incident site by identifying CBRNE agents/substances, assessing current or projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with appropriate requests for additional follow-on state and federal military forces. Units can also provide immediate response for intentional and unintentional CBRN or hazardous material (HAZMAT) releases and natural or manmade disasters that result in, or could result in, catastrophic loss of life or property.

CSTs are located in each state, U.S. territory and Washington, D.C. and are provided at no cost to civilian partners at the local, state, and federal levels. Support can be tailored to the needs of the requesting agency and can include as much as the whole team with the mobile lab and communications vehicle or as little as a few personnel with air monitoring capabilities.

All members of a WMD-CST must have more than 1,800 hours of specialized training per member. This training is conducted by the U.S. Army Chemical School, Defense Nuclear Weapons School, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Fire Academy (NFA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense (DoD), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The second phase of the 3rd WMD-CST Training Proficiency Exercise will be conducted later this week in the Harrisburg area.

The PA National Guard, headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County, is the third largest Guard in the nation with approximately 18,000 service members.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Butera - jobutera@pa.gov

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