Unique unit gets big thumbs up from Army

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Members of the 41st Civil Support Team work to collect samples of an unknown substance during a mock hazardous material situation as part of the unit’s training proficiency evaluation in Frankfort, Ky., April 11, 2013. The 41st trains to respond to any incident in Kentucky that involves weapons of mass destruction to include chemical, biological and radiological agents. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. –The Kentucky Guard’s 41st Civil Support Team is a 22-member unit with a huge responsibility. The small group stands ready to augment local or regional terrorism response capabilities in events that are suspected to involve weapons of mass destruction. They are trained to provide support to incidents including the use of chemical, biological or radiological agents.

Every 18 months the unit is put through a multi-day exercise, a TPE, or Training Proficiency Evaluation. ¬†Soldiers and Airmen of the 41st concluded their newest TPE April9-12, 2013. Observers from U.S. Army North came to Kentucky to gauge the unit’s effectiveness in potentially hazardous and difficult situations. The unit impressed, achieving a passing score from the graders after only one day of training. Team members said they didn’t train to just pass.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Cloutier, a survey team member with the 41st Civil Support Team dons his protective suit during a unit exercise in Frankfort, Ky., April 11, 2013. The 41st is a joint forces unit, made of Soldiers and Airmen. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“The purpose of this validation is to test the unit on its full spectrum of capabilities,” said commanding officer, Maj. John Cline. “It’s all in order to ensure that we are prepared to respond to the Commonwealth’s needs in any required all-hazard event.”

Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Cloutier said the 41st has been his assignment of his career in the military and that he enjoys the unique mission. And with such uncommon skill sets, Cloutier knows the challenges of their jobs and the necessity of the training extensive routines.

“This exercise shows our capabilities, but also our limitations, so it proves what we can and cannot do out there,” he said.

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Sgt. Joel Ray Campbell, a survey team member with the 41st Civil Support Team collects a sample of a mock hazardous material during a training exercise in Frankfort, Ky., April 11, 2013. Based in Louisville, Ky., the unit maintains its ability to be en route to an emergency within one hour of notification. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

According to Maj. Kris Morlen, deputy commander of the 41st, the unit is a highly skilled group of well experienced professionals. Several members have been with the unit since its inception more than 12 years ago. Morlen is the newest member, having only been with the 41st for less than two years, but certainly understands the importance of the training event.

“This gives us the opportunity to showcase the skills of our team members,” he said. “It’s a point of pride for us to do well here.”

Morlen also has respect for the quality of work done by the unit. The leadership of the 41st say they get a lot of ‘You guys are good.’

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Members of the 41st Civil Support Team practice evacuating an injured team member during a training exercise in Frankfort, Ky., April 11, 2013. The unit trains year-round in various degrees of its operation to prepare for a training proficiency evaluation every 18 months. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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