Yesterday, Congressman Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) held a press conference with community members and Iraq War veterans at Fort Hamilton to speak out against a Department of Defense plan to eliminate one of New York State’s two National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST), one of which resides at the Bay Ridge army base.
“At a time when New York City remains the number one terror target in the nation, it is completely nonsensical to cut such an essential asset to our safety and security. The 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team located at Fort Hamilton plays a crucial role in assisting our NYPD, first responders, and other agencies in the event high-risk situations. Shutting down NYC’s only CST would be a tremendous loss and could leave our city more vulnerable to attack,” said Rep. Michael Grimm.
The Obama Administration announced plans eliminate two of the National Guard’s 57 CSTs. New York and Florida – two of the three states with two CSTs – will be losing one team each. The Pentagon has not announced whether they will eliminate the team in Bay Ridge or the team in Albany, but Grimm asserts that the decision has already been made to close down the Fort Hamilton team, as reported by Helen Klein of the Home Reporter.
The 24th CST was established in a 2007 in a defense appropriations bill and became fully certified in 2010. The CST is charged with providing support to U.S. civil authorities – including the NYPD, FDNY, and the City government – in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive incident. Since 2010, the 24th WMD-CST has executed over 175 missions in support of local, state, and federal first responders’ crisis response, contingency operations preparation, and training exercises.