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Maryland National Guard Civil Support Team conducts readiness exercise

By Spc. Joshua Whitaker

MARTINSBURG, West Virginia – Maryland National Guard members of the 32nd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) partnered with the Airmen from the 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, to conduct a deployment readiness exercise from September 5-8, 2023.

The 32nd CST responds to chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threats inside the country.

The exercise consisted of a series of movements and inspections to test their ability to activate their entire force, including vehicles and equipment.

Almost a dozen vehicles were transported to Martinsburg utilizing civilian-operated 18-wheeled flatbed trucks, while the personnel were simultaneously transported on board two Maryland Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 29th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade.

“To my knowledge, not many teams exercise line haul or air movements to the extent we just completed,” said Lt. Col. Brian Zdunowski, commander of the 32nd CST. “Exercising these types of movements places the 32nd CST in a position for [the National Guard Bureau] and [Army North] to deploy us in response to CBRNE and all-hazard events to the point of need.”

Having the ability to move equipment and personnel around the country makes the 32nd CST a valuable asset, since there are not many teams capable of doing so, according to Zdunowski.

The 167th flies C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, allowing them to transport units with a lot of equipment like the 32nd CST.

During the training, members of the CST worked alongside the C-17 loadmasters to practice onboarding their vehicles onto the aircraft, which in some cases required modifying equipment to better fit in confined spaces.

“The 167th Airlift Wing is the closest National Guard unit that possesses the capability to move CST units from the state of Maryland,” said Lt. Col. Zdunowski. “Building a relationship with the 167th ahead of possible deployments will increase the speed of reaction time, likely saving lives and protecting property.”

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