NEWS | Feb. 28, 2016

34th CST trains with new robotic technology

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard’s Blackstone-based 34th Civil Support Team took part in the Sovereign Guardian 2016 exercise Feb. 22-26, 2016, in Washington, D.C. and had the opportunity to train with new technology they expect to field in 2017.

The Talon IV robot is scheduled for fielding during the second quarter of 2017, and it brings additional capabilities to the unit, explained Maj. Michael B. Booker, commander of the 34th CST.

“This new technology for the CST will provide lower-level unit intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear data collection for the team,” Booker said. “The robot is equipped with four sensors, autonomous mapping and is equipped with chemical, radiological and air sampling equipment that is transmitted back to a safe area without putting Soldiers or Airmen at risk.”

Members of the 34th worked with members of the 9th CST from the California National Guard and demonstrated the capabilities of the robot during a presentation for nearly 70 general officers, senior executive service and other senior officers from the National Guard Bureau.

During Sovereign Guardian 2016 interagency exercise, the 34th responded to simulated radiological dispersion devices at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. The team spent several days utilizing CBRN equipment to work on behalf of the incident commander to locate and identify dangerous radiological sources inside the target building, Booker explained.

The Washington DC National Guard hosted Sovereign Guardian 2016, and the exercise was intended to strengthen interagency partnerships between National Capital Region local, state and federal agencies to improve interoperability during response to all-hazard emergencies.

Members of the 34th also used their communications assets during the week working with the 33rd Civil Support Team from the Washington DC National Guard to set up and utilize the new Mobile Field Kit in order to further enhance CST capabilities for Incident Command Posts during emergencies.

“Every chance to work with interagency partners in the NCR, as well as fellow CSTs from around the country, is a vital opportunity for our team to enhance our abilities.” Booker said. “Being one of the first CSTs in in the nation to receive the new Talon IV robot will provide safer capabilities for our Soldiers and Airmen, and this new technology will be a force multiplier for Virginia.”

The Fort Pickett-based 34th CST is comprised of 22 full-time Army and Air National Guard personnel with the mission to support civil authorities at a domestic CBRNE incident site with identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities, and facilitating the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism. The unit complements and enhances, but does not duplicate, state CBRNE response capabilities is divided into six sections: command, operations, communications, administration/logistics, medical/analytical and survey.

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