| Feb. 7, 2020
The 2020 State of the Union Address takes place in the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The West Virginia National Guard’s 35th Civil Support Team (CST) assisted in the event and was strategically prepositioned to provide support to and in conjunction with the D.C. Fire and Emergency Management Services, the USCP, the D.C. National Guard and many other civil and federal agencies for the SOTUA. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Vance) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Vance)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – District of Columbia National Guard members provided support to the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, and other local and federal first responders during the State of the Union Address on Feb. 4, 2020.
"The State of the Union Address is an opportunity for the Civil Support Team to work with its partners from the region," Air Force Lt. Col Ryan Walsh, Deputy Commander of the District of Columbia Civil Support Team (CST), explained. "There are more than 100 National Guard members here from D.C., West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky helping to support the operations on the ground both inside and outside of the capitol building.”
The citizen-soldiers and airmen were on standby in case of an incident during the event.
If either a man-made or natural incident occurred, the CSTs would work to advise, assist, assess and identify weaponized agents, unknown chemicals and other harmful materials, when the potential for harm to the public exists.
The CSTs were formed in every U.S. state after the September 11th attacks, with the distinct mission of having a trained force able to react to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) attack.
There are currently 57 teams throughout the country, comprised of a mixture of Army and Air National Guardsmen. These experts bring to the table certifications from six different areas: survey, decontamination, communications, medical, and the command element. Being that most guardsmen have careers in both the military and civilian sectors, this presents challenges in the upkeep of being certified CST members.
“This is one of those exceptional missions for us," said West Virginia Army National Guard Sgt. Branden Blend, who is assigned to the 35th CST. "To be here in our national capitol in support of something so important makes me proud beyond explanation."