National Guard’s 7th Civil Support Team impresses FLW commander
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:58 pm
Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin (right) meets with members of the Missouri National Guard's 7th Civil Support Team.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (March 25, 2009) — The Missouri National Guard’s 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team got to show its capabilities to Fort Leonard Wood’s commanding general Monday during an exercise in its own backyard.
Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin stopped in to meet with some of the unit’s personnel, get a closer look at its equipment and familiarize himself with its mission.
“I thought they were awesome,” Martin said. “They have tremendous capability and are very well trained experts in a critically important function and mission for the state of Missouri and our nation. They were very impressive.”
The unit’s mission is to assess suspected or known terrorist threats, advise civilian authorities of appropriate responses, and assist local emergency responders in incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
The 22-person team, made up of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard full-time guardsmen, must be capable of rolling out within 90 minutes at all times to investigate potential hazards including mass sickness, mysterious white powders and unidentified contaminations.
“What stood out to me was the very clear, single-mission focus that they have — this critical ability to respond to weapons-of-mass-destruction, chemical, biological, and radiological-type threats,” Martin said. “The extreme depth of technical and tactical competence that is resonate in this particular unit is really reflective of the National Guard as a whole. The commitment and esprit de corps of the troops and their leaders, both noncommissioned officers and officers, I find to be a real strong point.”
Martin said the array of the equipment, which can be used to deal with the chemical, biological, radiological and weapons of mass destruction threats, as well as the team’s eight vehicles which include communication gear that has the ability to link and synchronize communications and computers, was remarkable.
“It’s very impressive that they can do this on mobile vehicles and launch them from right here at Fort Leonard Wood,” he said.
Lt. Col. Raymond White, the 7th Civil Support Team commander, was pleased with the visit and was glad that Martin understands the importance of all the components of his post.
“I was very impressed with the new commanding general’s interest in units that are based at Fort Leonard Wood, and that’s not just the active-duty forces, but also the National Guard forces and the civilian force, and how they integrate together to form a cohesive team,” White said.
It was a reunion with Martin for Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Lemley, the team’s hazardous modeling noncommissioned officer, who served as Martin’s battalion communication noncommissioned officer when he was commander of the active-duty Army 5th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood in 1997.
“The post is in great hands. He is an unbelievable leader and soldier,” Lemley said of Martin, who came to the 5th Engineer Battalion after a stint as an instructor at West Point. “He is a soldier’s soldier.”
The exercise scenario involved four 12-year-old boys who became ill with flu-like symptoms and rashes after playing during spring break inside some abandoned buildings in Training Area 190 on post.
“Initial response said they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, but there was a confined space and the individuals that were there were neither trained nor had the equipment to exploit that confined space sight, hence the reason the 7th was involved,” said 2nd Lt. Richard Sambolin, the team’s reconnaissance leader and the creator of the exercise.
Inside the buildings, the unit’s reconnaissance team discovered several chemicals that were purposely put into the exercise to throw off the real source of the illness, which was actually the environment created by rodent infestation inside the structures.
“The way the exercise was designed was that none of the detection equipment that we have now would have readily identified it,” Sambolin said. “There were a set of clues and circumstances that were provided that would allow you to draw some conclusions based on the findings.”
The exercise also stressed the importance of cross-training within the unit.
“It was an exercise designed to stretch individuals to perform their duty and somebody else’s and to do critical thinking,” Sambolin said.
After all chemicals present were identified and it was determined that they could not be responsible for the illness, the team determined the true cause.
“The stress and outside-of-the-box thinking expanded the knowledge base of the participants, allowing for maximum training,” Sambolin concluded.