On Friday, Feb. 15, soldiers and airmen of the 45th Civil Support Team from Smyrna will celebrate the unit’s 10th anniversary of being a federally recognized and fully qualified unit.
The unit is holding a luncheon at the Smyrna Town Center beginning at 11 a.m. for all present and former team members along with invited guests.
“These soldiers are a testament to everything that is right about the National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, who serves as adjutant general for the state of Tennessee. “They are a priceless asset to the state and are specialists in their field.”
The 45th is one of 57 teams throughout the nation created to support state and local authorities in the event of a possible incident involving weapons of mass destruction, primarily chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.
Ten units were initially formed in 1998, but following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, more teams were created, including Tennessee’s in 2002, which was federally certified for service in February 2003.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Brown, the unit commander, said the 45th is a full-time, 22-person team trained to rapidly deploy, assist local first-responders in determining the nature of a possible WMD attack, provide medical and technical expertise, while aiding in the identification of possible toxic agents and how to best react to them.
They are also the first military responders during a WMD incident.
“We can go to an incident, detect a deadly agent, and analyze it in our mobile lab,” Brown said. “Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, these assets and teams were not available. We can now determine the nature of an event in just a few hours, which used to take weeks.”
Working in the team can be very dangerous due to the nature of the incidents they respond to, according to team members.
“We’re well trained and always ready,” said Sgt. Gregory Manning, a survey team member. “We take our jobs seriously. Any mistake could cost us our lives, or those of others.”
The team participates in multiple national exercises, responds to real world events, and it is often utilized at public events to detect for possible radiation and toxic materials.