By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
At least something good is coming out of the nasty budget battles in Washington, a local lawmaker said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm said his vote in favor of a House continuing resolution to keep the federal government running through the end of the fiscal year will save an elite anti-terror unit at the Fort Hamilton Army Base from being disbanded.
Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said the March 6 vote will also protect the 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team from budget cuts.
The Defense Department recommended disbanding two of the 57 civil support teams in the country, specifically the teams in New York and Florida. Grimm successfully passed an amendment fully funding these two teams and fought to include language in a defense appropriations bill to save them. The vote taken on March 6 will ensure that the language contained in that earlier bill is complied with through the end of this fiscal year.
Fort Hamilton, located in Bay Ridge, is the only active military base in New York City. The fort was established in 1825. The main gate is located on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 101st Street.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Department of Defense that New York City remains the number one terror target in the nation, and we simply cannot afford to make nonsensical and irresponsible cuts to such an essential asset to our security,” Grimm said.
“The 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team located at Fort Hamilton is highly-trained to respond to high-risk situations and assist the NYPD, first responders, and other agencies in response efforts. This team is crucial to New York’s security and today’s vote shows that there is a clear recognition of this fact in Congress,” said Grimm, who spoke about the continuing resolution shortly after it was passed by the House.
The 24th civil support team was established in 2007 in a defense appropriations bill. By 2008, the team was hired, equipped, and trained. In 2009, it started team-level training and became fully certified in 2010.
The team works closely with NYC, the NYPD, the FDNY, and other agencies to keep New York safe, Grimm said.
The team is trained to provide support to U.S. civil authorities in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive incident. Since 2010, the team has executed over 175 missions in support of local, state, and federal first responders’ crisis response, contingency operations preparation, and training exercises.
The continuing resolution passed by the House has been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.