Friday, October 12, 2012

Capital Shield Exercise preps D.C. National Guard for Inauguration

D.C. National Guard members recently participated in training with other agencies to help protect the nation’s capital. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse Searls, D.C. National Guard)
By Sgt. Jesse Searls, District of Columbia National Guard

The District of Columbia National Guard participated in the 2012 Capital Shield Exercise, a training event which emphasizes unity of effort for district and federal agencies operating in the District of Columbia in preparation for events such as the upcoming inauguration.

The D.C. Army National Guard’s 33rd CST, together with the Massachusetts National Guard’s 1st CST, set up their equipment for a section of the training conducted in Southeast Washington.
The western campus of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which opened in 1855 as the “Government Hospital for the Insane,” is situated in southeast D.C., south and across the Anacostia River from the D.C. National Guard Armory. The rich and storied history of the institution is palpable as the National Guard members conducted a training scenario based on a possible chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threat.

The mission of the D.C.ARNG’s 33rd CST is one of paramount importance: made up of 22 highly trained hazmat technicians, it is capable of responding to various untold levels of natural or man-made disasters that could threaten the public safety in the District of Columbia. Training exercises like Capital Shield prepare the soldiers to work with and assist several agencies and departments.
The 33rd works closely with the D.C. Fire Department, Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, D.C. Department of Health, and the FBI in a combined effort to protect the public in the event of a weapons of mass destruction attack on our nation’s capital.

Among the training area is a vast array of shuttered, three-story brick buildings. The campus covers more than 100 acres. It’s closed to the public with fencing and gate guards and is confusing to drive around with its tight, twisting roads, adding up to an excellent environment for precise and professional training to take place.

During Capital Shield Exercise at S The 33rd Civil Support Team, District of Columbia National Guard, participates in the 2012 Capital Shield Exercise. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse Searls, D.C. National Guard)t. Elizabeth’s, Sgt. Tanisha Mercado, having just finished an exercise in a heavy, air-tight chemical suit with its own oxygen container, talked about the training that day.

“Staff Sgt. Jason McGuire and I were tasked with performing surveying and recon around a trailer.” Mercado said, as she pointed to a large conex container sitting conspicuously among the historic buildings of St Elizabeth’s. “We took a grab sample, which is when the entire package, container, envelope, or in this case, a propane tank is taken into the lab. Our grab sample turned out to be an improvised dispersal device.”

The 33rd CST has completed two large-scale exercises this year in anticipation of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration to be held Monday, Jan. 21.

I’m proud of the hard work they put in every day,” said 33rd CST’s First Sergeant and senior non-commissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Charles Mick. “We’re ready for anything.”