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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2023

Exercise prepares 34th CST for upcoming evaluation

By A.J. Coyne | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Fort Pickett-based 34th Civil Support Team participated in collective lanes training Jan. 23-27, 2023, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  

“This is a ‘check on learning’ conducted by Army North and our evaluation team to provide us a snapshot of where we’re at, what we need to work toward and improve upon before our Training Proficiency Evaluation this summer,” explained Maj. Thomas Mecadon, 34th CST commander.  

The team traveled to Virginia Beach Jan. 23 and conducted an exercise at the State Military Reservation Jan. 24. After an after-action review and refit Jan. 25, the 34th CST conducted another training exercise at the Virginia Beach Sports Center Jan. 26. They then returned to Fort Pickett at the end of the week.   

“This training not only preps us for TPE but it gives us a good external evaluation of what we need to improve on, what equipment may need to be reevaluated and how we utilize that equipment,” Mecadon said. “Not only does this prep us for training but prepares the team to respond to real world events in support of civilian agencies.” 

The 22-member 34th CST supports first responders during potential hazardous materials incidents involving possible chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive threats and can identify unknown substances, assess current and projected consequences, advise an incident commander on response measures and assist with requests for additional state support. 

The 34th CST is divided into six sections: command, operations, communications, administration/logistics, medical/analytical and survey. The team’s primary response area includes a 300-mile radius from its home station at Fort Pickett and stretches as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south as South Carolina. They maintain personnel on standby at all times, can deploy an advance team within 90 minutes of notification and the main body deploys within three hours. 

The unit’s assigned transportation includes a command vehicle, operations trailer, a communications vehicle called the unified command suite which provides a broad spectrum of secure communications capabilities, an analytical laboratory system vehicle containing a full suite of analysis equipment to support the complete characterization of an unknown hazard and several general purpose vehicles.  

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