NEWS | March 15, 2021

41st Civil Support Team kicks off Annual Evaluation Training with AR North

By Sgt. Jesse Elbouab, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The Kentucky National Guard's 41st Civil Support Team (CST) rallied in Bardstown, Ky., to kick-off their mission-readiness evaluation March 15-18, 2021. This certification test takes place every 18 months to keep the team up to date with the protocols and procedures necessary for responding to potential Weapons of Mass Destruction (MWD) and/or threat thereof.

Known as MWD-CST, the joint unit comprises 18 Soldiers and four Airmen. The specialized unit is one of 57 domestic teams--one for each state and territory--and is responsible for assisting various agencies in the event there is a heightened concern or immediate threat present.

Responding to the threat of explosives, biohazardous materials and chemical agents is no small undertaking. While the CST is highly trained and capable, there is always room to innovate & develop better systems. Training environments, such as this, create a space for that type of program evolution.

The Louisville-based team, which operates under the 75th Troop Command, most commonly works with local and state police agencies, but includes cooperation with the FBI, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, the Census Bureau, and UPS.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this team is solid in knowing their subject matter," said Lt. Col. Noi Boriboune, the unit’s commander. "I feel confident in their ability and area of expertise. They will come together as a team to not only complete this evaluation but do so to the best of their ability."

The CST is unique compared to other Kentucky Guard units. All service members are full-time employees and are routinely called upon to cover missions across the state and beyond. Over the last year the team assisted LMPD with civil disturbance missions, as well as being present at the Nation’s Capital for the inauguration and weeks following.

This most recent evaluation was a test of the unit's combined knowledge and skill set. A team from Army North, headquartered out of Fort Sam, Houston, Texas, graded the process. AR North, as they are commonly referred to, oversees the evaluation process for all the 57 domestic CST teams.

According to Boriboune, on the day of the evaluation, the team received a scenario indicating an explosive device, possibly criminal in nature. A suspect had already been taken into custody, but two FBI agents were exposed to a potential threat and experienced various side effects such as burning eyes and difficulty breathing.

Based on this intel, the team then discussed the threat and created a plan based on their standard operating procedures and training parameters.

Using specialized equipment, the initial survey team responded by taking photos, monitoring the area, and observing the devices to see if they were giving off any readings or had the potential for going off. Based on the survey team's information, a secondary team collected samples for further testing and disabling attempts.

Scott Boatman, a Survey Operator from AR North, sets up the scenarios and observers the team's mission.

"We set up all kinds of labs, devices, and items for the survey team to gain experience of situations they may not normally see," said Boatman. "I have conducted evaluations with 19 of the 57 civil support teams from different areas, and through that observation, we cross-pollinate situations to further expand each team’s knowledge and skill set."

Army North Foxtrot team lead, Derrick "DJ" Johnson said, he can tell who has taken the time to prepare for such evaluations and who has not.

"The idea is to be proactive and not reactive while also being knowledgeable about challenges these teams might face," said Johnson. "This command team has done an excellent job in making sure that is happening."

The team completed all the requirements and passed the evaluation as a mission-ready and capable WMD-CST unit. Anytime a unit completes an evaluation or training they walk away better equipped to tackle any real-life missions they could potentially face. As citizens of the commonwealth, we can be assured that if and when called upon, we have a mentally, physically, and technically qualified team watching our backs.

Watch the video here: