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National Guard support unit moving to Pinellas Park facility

By Howard Altman
Published: January 31, 2014

The 48th Civil Support Team, a National Guard unit created to provide assistance if a weapon of mass destruction ever went off here, is getting a new home in Pinellas Park.

The specially trained 22-member unit, and all its high-tech equipment, is currently housed in a hangar at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

But military construction funding has been earmarked for a $5.7 million facility to house the 48th CST on the property of the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center in Pinellas Park, Florida National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. James Evans said in a news release.

Because the military construction funding has yet to be released, there is no projected date for the start of construction, Evans said.

The 16,200-square-foot facility will be based on a design similar to the 44th CST building at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, said Evans, and will include an operations center, a medical section, secure communications sections, a decontamination area, storage rooms, and a chemical/biological testing room.

The analysts at the 48th CST are trained to figure out what potential dangers might exist, and, at the scene, report to the civilian emergency first responder in charge to help establish communications capabilities, identify the hazards and help contain the area.

The move is a good one for the unit, said Florida National Guard Construction and Facility Management Officer Lt. Col. Mark Widener.

“This is a tremendous boost to the organization because it will allow for us to put the 48th CST members in a permanent facility,” Widener said.

The unit is moving to a facility belonging to the U.S. Army Reserves and serves as the headquarters for the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Lt. Col. Joe Defee, commander of the 48th CST, said his team is excited about the move, and called the new building a “crucial piece” of their response plan.

“It will be built and configured to provide the CST the means to systematically load personnel and equipment, and rapidly deploy within 30 minutes,” Defee said. “The 48th CST has been involved in the initial design and building concept ... and we’re leaning forward with them to complete this project as soon as possible.”

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