CST's special skills aid Capitol security detail

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tony Vincelli
  • 124 FW Public Affairs Officer
In a unit where readiness depends on creating realistic training scenarios in order to properly prepare for a CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosives) event, it is fairly uncommon when real-world events call for the 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team to break away from training to employ their skills.

That is why supporting the 2011 Inaugural Ball at the State Capitol Building was a unique opportunity for the joint Air-Army Guard CST to assist Boise City Police, Idaho State Police, Capital Mall Security and Boise Fire Department so that they can be freed up to handle non-WMD related events on the evening of Jan. 8.

The mission for the 22 members of the CST was multifaceted. First, team members established an active air monitoring network all over the Capitol using wireless sensors that are monitored at a nearby command post. Second, just prior to the beginning of the ball, a team swept the building using handheld detection equipment. Third, as members of a Joint Hazard Assessment Team, they served as subject matter experts for all WMD and HAZMAT to the venue commander from the Idaho State Police. And finally, a small team remained on alert to immediately respond to any other real-world events. The remainder of the CST was on alert on Gowen Field until the completion of the ball.

In addition, some CST members dressed in service dress carrying basic handheld detection and communication equipment and attended the ball to detect potential hazards and make a quick assessment to the venue commander, if necessary.

According to Tech. Sgt. Aaron Decker, coordinator for the Inaugural Ball support operation, the CST's role is to provide important detection capabilities as discreetly as possible so as not to alarm the public.

The 101st has learned lessons from other CSTs around the country that have inadvertently alarmed people at events in the past by donning flashy protective equipment to test unknown or suspicious packages, which are usually harmless.

Sergeant Decker said that he expects the CST's support for these types of events to become more frequent in the future as more and more venue commanders become aware of the CST's unique capabilities.

There is a lot of value in doing this type of operation, which are happening all over the country, he said.

"You can talk about the JHAT mission all you want, but nothing replaces doing it in a real environment," said Sergeant Decker.

About the CST:
The 101st WMD CST is a 22-person team comprised of full-time Idaho National Guard personnel. They are located on Gowen Field in Boise. The team was established as a result of Presidential Directives in response to an ever-growing threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) terrorism within the United States.

101st WMD-CST Mission:
On order, the 101st WMD CST deploys to support civil authorities at a domestic Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive (CBRNE) incident site by identifying chemical, biological or radiological agents/substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with appropriate requests for additional support.

Command and control of the CST and coordination with the local Incident Commander. · Commander · Deputy Commander (Safety)

Conducts hazard plume modeling and provides real-time meteorological data. Provides information for vulnerability analysis. Provides liaison with local officials and coordinates logistical and transportation concerns of the CST. · Operations Officer · Ops NCO / Asst. Ops NCO · Modeling NCO · Logistics NCO

Provides on-site analysis of unknown CHEM, BIO, or RAD agents. Conducts reach-back with subject matter experts. Provides medical advice to EMS, hospitals, and public health agencies. · Physician Assistant (PA) · Medical Operations Officer · Science Officer · Medical Operations NCO (EMT)