Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Teams (CST)

Mission and Organization

The WMD-CST mission is to assess a suspected WMD event in support of the local incident commander; advise civilian responders regarding appropriate actions; and work to both facilitate and expedite the arrival of additional military forces if needed.

WMD-CST Training and Equipment

The WMD-CSTs participate in both military and emergency responder training. Team members acquire approximately 600 hours of initial training above their military occupational skill qualification or professional military education requirements. Instruction is provided from several DOD schools, along with other agencies such as FEMA, DOJ, EPA and DOE. The WMD-CST is equipped with high-end detection, analytical, and protective equipment. The unit possesses satellite, secure and cellular telephone communications to provide connectivity with both civil and military forces within the operational conditions. WMD-CSTs are required to maintain personal protective equipment sets that exceed those provided to military forces. WMD-CSTs are equipped to civil standards in order to operate in an area containing unknown contamination. Additionally, high-end detection equipment is required to detect a greater range of substances, including toxic industrial chemicals, organic substances, and chemical and biological warfare agents.

Unit Stationing and Response Range

WMD-CSTs are currently based in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia. New units will be assigned to Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Based upon weather and road conditions, ground transit time equates to 3 to 5 hours after departing Home Station. Any response beyond the 250-mile maximum ground movement radius may warrant the use of rotary or fixed wing aircraft. The WMD-CST equipment set is man-portable for rotary wing movement (but at a degraded capability) as well as air transportable by fixed wing aircraft at full capability. WMD-CSTs will normally be the first National Guard units to arrive at a WMD incident.


In response to a weapon of mass destruction situation, the Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs) provide a well-trained assessment team to support the State response as a lead element for the National Guard. Their knowledge of the emergency management system, expertise in emergency response operations, and technical capabilities may provide tremendous assistance to the local Incident Commander. WMD terrorism requires rapid response to a suspected or actual terrorist attack. The WMD-CSTs provide assessment of the damage, consultation on logistics, medical, chemical and biological defense, and transmission of the situation to higher headquarters to facilitate follow-on military forces. The WMD-CSTs are available for rapid deployment for WMD response operations.

Source: National Guard