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By Staff Sgt. Matthew Gunther,
New York National Guard
LATHAM, N.Y. – Ten Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s Dismounted Chemical Reconnaissance Team refined their skills alongside 16 Airmen and Soldiers from the New York National Guard’s 2nd Civil Support Team Nov. 14-16.
The event at the Colonie Fire Training Center presented the Active Duty Army Soldiers with the challenges of a chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear scenario.
Participants had to find and test a stockpile of materials in a house basement at the training center.
The Dismounted Chemical Reconnaissance Team, based in Fort Drum, uses search, survey, surveillance and sampling techniques to determine the presence and extent of CBRN contamination.
Members of the 2nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) guided and supported the 10th Mountain Soldiers during the exercise.
Lt. Col. John Giroux, 2nd CST commander, said the training is essential.
“Exercises like this are crucial for many reasons. It allows us to identify and fill training shortfalls, expands technical skills and builds cohesion between us at the state level and our contemporaries at the federal level, such as the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division,” Giroux said.
The Soldiers used protective suits, oxygen masks and tanks, sensors for detecting hazardous materials, and sample kits. They maintained constant contact over the radio with a nearby command post.
The Soldiers began by circling the house’s exterior, looking for spikes on their detection equipment, and eventually entering the house to pinpoint the origin of the hazardous materials.
The source was a makeshift lab set up by 2nd CST personnel to simulate a situation where someone could be making a weapon of mass destruction in their home.
“This type of situation might be uncommon, but a lack of training when responding to one could have catastrophic consequences,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Wallace, the platoon sergeant for the reconnaissance team. “Therefore, the training must be strenuous, realistic and objectively critiqued.”
1st Lieutenant Rosa Dominguez, the platoon leader for the reconnaissance team, said she and her Soldiers appreciated the help and mentoring of the Guardsmen.
“It was a real pleasure to work alongside the CST members and to absorb some of their expertise,” Dominguez said. “This week, we built a lot of camaraderie with them and working relationships that will benefit both of our units for years to come.”
After completing their mission, the Soldiers decontaminated and removed their protective gear.
The 2nd Civil Support Team comprises Army and Air Guardsmen trained to identify hazardous materials resulting from terrorist attacks, disasters or criminal activity and inform local first responders.
New York has two teams: the 2nd CST at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia and the 24th CST at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
Senior Airman Karlie Foster, a hazmat technician with the 2nd CST and cadre member for the event, said she enjoyed working with the active-duty military members.
“It’s great to compare their perspective, which is a unit that will deploy internationally, with ours, which is domestic, and bridge that gap,” said Foster.