Local News

N.C. Gets Full-Time Weapons Of Mass Destruction Team

Posted March 10, 2004 2:28 a.m. EST

— North Carolina is one of 12 new states to have a full-time Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team to aid local and state emergency responders in the event a terrorist attack or serious incident.

The Department of Defense announced the selection Tuesday.

The team, which will be a unit of the

North Carolina National Guard

, will be staffed by 22 Air and Army National Guardsmen.

"This is very good for North Carolina, and we especially appreciate the support of the members of our congressional delegation who helped secure the team for our state," said Bryan E. Beatty, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, the state's lead agency for homeland security and the department which oversees the Guard. "Though it will be federally funded, the team will work for the governor and be available to police, fire and rescue agencies across the state."

The North Carolina National Guard has already had a "light" team, the 42nd Civil Support Team, based in Raleigh, for several years. Until now, that team has only been authorized one full-time member and 21 traditional soldiers and airmen who drilled once a month and two weeks during the summer.

The designation as a "heavy" team means the Guard can begin hiring the unit's full-time members. Guard officials plan to meet Wednesday morning to discuss advertising the new positions.

Civil Support Teams were established to deploy rapidly to assist a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident. If terrorists release biological, chemical or radiological agents to intentionally harm people, the team has the ability to identify the agents and the ready knowledge of what actions to take and what response units can be brought in to assist.

The first teams formed in 1999. As of 2001, 32 full time teams had come online in other states. The 12 teams announced Tuesday are the first of 23 additional full-time teams set for activation around the country. New teams have 24 months to become fully operational.