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NEWS | April 4, 2024

New York Guard Civil Support Team Trains Aboard Ship

By Maj. Jean Kratzer, New York National Guard

ALBANY, N.Y. - Twenty-one Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the New York National Guard’s 2nd Civil Support Team tested their ability to detect weapons of mass destruction aboard a World War II destroyer docked in downtown Albany.

During the March 28 exercise, three teams of two to three personnel used detection equipment to find and mark radioactive material. Other teams then removed the radioactive material and decontaminated the area.

Members of the New York National Guard’s two Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams identify and mitigate chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive substances.

“Each year, the CST finds different training sites to challenge its survey teams, which specialize in detection, identification and sample collections in contaminated areas,“ said Army Lt. Col. John Giroux, the commander of the 2nd CST.

The teams search and identify radiation sources in unfamiliar environments within confined spaces.

“This year’s training consisted of classroom instructions on topics like basic radiation and then culminated with training that focused on radiological concepts before the survey teams tried to search and identify radiation sources,” Giroux said.

The hands-on training took place aboard the USS Slater, a 306-foot destroyer that escorted convoys across the Atlantic. The ship has been a museum ship docked in the Hudson River in Albany since 1997.

“This unique training site allowed us to test the capabilities and problem-solving skills of our team members who are training at the operational and communication level,” Giroux said.

During the destroyer exercise, the team successfully reconfigured communications and equipment and conducted a hazardous assessment around the entire site, Giroux said.

“We are privileged to receive world-class instruction and coaching from the Department of Energy Radiation Assistance Program and the New York State Police and are especially grateful to the USS Slater staff for their partnership and support, without whom our success today could not have been possible,” Giroux said.

“This training was a great opportunity for our team to learn from the subject matter experts while also exercising our capabilities and strengthening our relationships with our partner agencies,“ said Capt. Ryan Gonch, the operations officer for the 2nd CST.

The 2nd CST, headquartered at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, is responsible for central, upstate and western New York.

The 24th CST, based at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, is responsible for missions in New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley.

The teams have equipment that local civilian agencies lack, such as a mobile lab that enables members to analyze and identify chemicals and substances on location, Gonch said.

The 2nd CST team tracked down and discovered the radioactive material hidden on the destroyer. Hazardous material teams from the FBI and New York State Police also participated in the exercise, which was facilitated by scientists from the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Tim Rizzuto, the executive director of the Slater, said he was happy the historic ship could accommodate the training.

“We enjoy working with the National Guard and law enforcement when they reach out to us and being able to provide a site for them to train,” Rizzuto said.



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