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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2024

Weapons of Mass Destruction Training Keeps Detroit and its visitors safe

51st CST- WMD


Highly specialized teams from the Michigan Army National Guard trained with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies during a countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) cross-agency response exercise in Detroit.

More than 30 members of the Michigan Army National Guard 51st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST WMD), joined by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, utilized the unique facilities of Detroit’s Huntington Place and Ford Field, the home stadium of the Detroit Lions NFL team, to conducted annual joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Explosives detection and mitigation training.
In 2024, Detroit will be the host city to multiple large-scale events, to include the 2024 NFL Draft in the spring and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) annual conference in the summer. Working together as a united team, the 51st CST WMD team and law enforcement train regularly to maintain the peace and security at highly attended, high profile events such as these.

“That is exactly why we are here,” said Lt. Col. Sara So, Commander of the 51st CST. “We want every Detroiter and visitor to Detroit to feel safe at all events.”

The purpose of the training is to enhance the inter-agency effectiveness between the Michigan National Guard and their emergency response partners. Those partners include the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction team, FBI special agent explosive technicians, Michigan State Police, and Detroit Police explosives team.

The National Guard civil support team provides an initial assessment of incidents, to advise and assist state emergency management teams, the state’s Michigan National Guard leadership, and other key officials including representatives of federal agencies. To keep their skills sharp, the 51st CST regularly exercises with various law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

“Relationships are critical for us,” said So. “Exercises like this gives us an opportunity to establish and maintain face-to-face relationships in case something ever does happen, and we need to respond quickly. We need to be able to work together effectively in a short amount of time with the partner agencies.”

The 51st CST is responsible for responding when there is a terroristic threat of using a weapon of mass destruction, the release of nuclear, biological, or other toxic poisonous chemical materials, or when a natural or man-made disaster occurs.

“The CST conducts at least eight training events of this type a year, many with their interagency partners, and different first responders across the state,” said So. “This training is vitally important to not just the Michigan National Guard, but also to our partner agencies. It’s imperative that we work together frequently to stay proficient as experts and to understand how we can work as one in an emergent situation. We don’t want an emergency situation to be the first time that we’re working together.

The Michigan National Guard’s 51st Civil Support Team Weapons of Mass Destruction unit is based out of Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, Michigan.