Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams Seal Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams

by Major Adrian T. Bogart III

Civil support teams are one example of how the Department of Defense supports civil authorities' efforts to meet the emerging threats of the 21st century.

    Since the 1960s, the United States has dealt with a series of asymmetric threats, the potential lethality of which has increased over time. These threats include the civil disturbances of the 1960s, terrorism abroad in the 1970s, an increase in illegal drug use during the 1980s, and terrorist bombings in New York and Oklahoma City during the 1990s. Now, in the 2000s, we face these and even more sophisticated threats, including cyber terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    With the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, the President and Congress increased their focus on improving our Nation's ability to deter and respond to domestic terrorism. In June 1995, Presidential Decision Directive 39 delineated the responsibilities of Federal agencies in combating terrorism, including domestic incidents. Presidential Decision Directive 62, issued in May 1998, further defined responsibilities for specific agencies. Both directives called for the establishment of tailored and rapidly deployable interagency teams that can conduct well-coordinated and highly integrated operations in response to a crisis generated by a terrorist attack and cope with the consequences that follow (consequence management).

    In 1997, the Department of Defense (DOD) commissioned a "tiger team" to develop a strategic plan for integrating Reserve Component support for response to attacks using WMD. Written by a panel of experts over 3 months, the plan defined a future operational capability based on enhancing reserve component support to civil authorities in the United States in managing the consequences of WMD terrorism. An abbreviated implementation of the plan approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense stipulates DOD's plans to support the lead Federal agencies in their response to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents. The National Security Strategy published by the While House in October 1998 specifically mentions teams identified in the plan and incorporates a new section on consequence management. Subsequently, defense plans have incorporated military support for consequence management response.

The Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, after a terrorist bombing in April 1995.

The Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, after a terrorist bombing in April 1995.


Civil Support Team Genesis

    In 1996, Congress passed the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act (commonly called the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici bill), which directed the Federal Government to enhance its ability to deter, prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks involving WMD and to provide direct support to the "front line" of local and state emergency response organizations. In fiscal year (FY) 1999, DOD received Congressional direction and funding to organize, train, and equip 10 National Guard WMD Civil Support Teams (CSTs) to develop a military capability to meet the pressing demands of this emerging threat as part of a state's emergency response structure. Congress authorized the fielding of 17 additional teams in FY 2000 and 5 more in FY 2001, for a total of 32 teams.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team Organizational Chart.

Unit Stationing and Response

    The 27 CSTs established to date are based in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, California (two teams), Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia. The locations for the teams were chosen to ensure the fastest response times to reach the greatest number of people, minimize response times within a geographical area, and reduce the overlap with other teams' areas of responsibility. The distribution provides optimal response coverage for the entire population of the United States.

    The teams can respond from their respective home stations by ground transportation to emergencies within a 250-mile radius within 8 hours, depending on location, weather, and road conditions. Response beyond the 250-mile radius may require the use of rotary- or fixed-wing aircraft. All of the team's equipment is air transportable.

Governor's 911 Force

    The CSTs are designed to assist state civil authorities in managing a WMD emergency. Each team is commanded by a lieutenant colonel and staffed jointly with Army and Air National Guard personnel in 14 occupational specialties. Each team's State National Guard provides personnel, stationing, and common support. The State Adjutants General employ the CST to support their home state's or another state's response under the direction of the supported governor. As the "Governor's 911 Force for WMD," the CST contributes greatly to a state's ability to respond effectively to a domestic WMD emergency.

    The CSTs are intended to operate principally under the provisions of Title 32 of the United States Code under the operational control of the supported governor. If Federalized, the CSTs will support the designated lead Federal agencies (identified in the Federal Response Plan prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]) responsible for consequence management emergency support functions and will operate under the command and control of the Joint Task Force for Civil Support. This task force, which is based at Fort Monroe, Virginia, is the U.S. Joint Forces Command's command and control element for DOD forces conducting consequence management support operations in response to a domestic WMD event.

Two WMD-CST members in training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Two WMD-CST members in training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Mission and Organization

    The CST mission is to assess a suspected WMD incident, advise civilian authorities on appropriate response actions, and facilitate the arrival of additional state and Federal military forces. Each team consists of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guardsmen who have been trained and equipped to provide technical advice and "reach back" to other military experts who can assist the incident commander. They can deploy rapidly, upon a governor's request, to a suspected or actual incident site, conduct reconnaissance to determine the nature of the event, provide situational understanding and technical consultation to local authorities on managing the effects of the incident to minimize the impact on the civilian population, and facilitate follow-on military support performing validated requests for assistance. The CST also can provide vital information about the situation to other response units that may facilitate their employment.

CST Training and Equipment

    The CST members follow an in-depth emergency responder training program. They undergo more than 600 hours of initial training over and above their military occupational specialty qualification or professional military education requirements. Several DOD schools and other agencies such as FEMA, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy provide the instruction.

    The CSTs have sophisticated detection, analytical, and protective equipment that allows them to work in environments that contain many different kinds of caustic substances and chemicals that could threaten life and health. High-frequency, ultra-high frequency, very high frequency, Ku-Band satellite, and FM radios and secure and cellular telephones help provide interoperability among both civilian and military forces responding on scene.

    Based on the teams' mission and the threats they potentially could face, and after intensive equipment reviews and comparisons, the teams were fielded with a combination of 30 percent Army standard equipment and 70 percent commercial off-the-shelf equipment. The approximately 90 line items authorized on each team's table of distribution and allowances comprise six categories of equipment: service common, standard chemical defense, mission unique, nonstandard operational, nonstandard chemical defense, and a response vehicle fleet. Interoperability with the civilian first responders or emergency responders (fire and rescue personnel, hazardous materials units, and emergency medical technicians) was a key consideration in the equipment selection process. The Interagency Board (IAB) for Equipment Standardization and Interoperability, a user-level organization of leading responders and subject-matter experts from various local, state, and Federal government organizations, used the CST equipment list as the basis for developing a standardized equipment list that has been available to the interagency community in preparing for and responding to WMD incidents. The Attorney General has distributed this list to local and state agencies requesting Department of Justice grants to improve their WMD response.

A soldier in training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, enters a decontamination tent. A soldier in training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, enters a decontamination tent.

Equipping and Supporting the CSTs

    DOD relied on the expertise and support of the Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) and the Marine Corps Systems Command in equipping these small, highly specialized response units. This joint effort was vital to the rapid fielding of equipment, integration of industry support, and leveraging of DOD's unique skills and infrastructure.

    Currently, the Defense Consequence Management Support Center (SUPCEN) supports and sustains WMD response forces through a central organization consisting of a supply support activity, an emergency resupply activity, and a support coordination center. The SUPCEN provides stock management and warehousing, technical services, and integrated logistics support. The SUPCEN has the capability to expand its operations to 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week during contingencies, major exercises, and national security special events.

    The Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division designed, acquired, and fielded the Unified Command Suite (UCS) communications vehicle. This nondevelopmental system provides access to standard military and civil response agency communications systems and provides the CSTs with a robust capability to communicate with local, state, and Federal agencies. The UCS also provides reach-back communications to a variety of technical and scientific experts who can supply technical assistance and guidance. This system is crucial in reaching military experts throughout the United States to provide timely advice or assistance to the local incident commander.

    The establishment of the CSTs is an example of how DOD supports civil authorities' efforts to meet the emerging threats of the 21st century. Together, Federal, state, and local governments have mustered their collective strengths in an effort to ensure that our Nation is ready to defend against, and recover from, accidental or intentional WMD incidents.    ALOG

    Major Adrian T. Bogart III is the Chief of Strategic Plans and Programs in the National Guard Bureau's Civil Support Office in Arlington, Virginia. A Special Forces officer, Major Bogart is responsible for domestic consequence management planning, programming, and management of central operational support programs for the National Guard's consequence management and civil support activities. He holds a civil engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute.

 A soldier in training at Fort Leonard Wood,
Missouri, enters a decontamination tent.