Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-S.I./Brooklyn) applauded Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's decision to reverse the call to disestablish Brooklyn's 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) at Ft. Hamilton, along with another CST in Florida. On March 29th, the Department of Defense sent a letter expressing its intent once again to disestablish the two CST teams, including is Ft. Hamilton's. Rep. Grimm fought the decision, and today, Secretary Hagel gave his support for the units while testifying before the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
Rep. Grimm issued the following statement on the decision:
"It seems each year we have to go to war to save Fort Hamilton's WMD-CST. After, once again, securing bill language to save our CST from the chopping block, we thought the battle was won, until the new Defense Secretary told us last month that it was not. That's when I joined with my colleagues in the NY delegation, and we fought back.
"I am pleased that the Secretary heard our cries and realized the crucial role Ft. Hamilton's WMD-CST plays in response and security efforts. Secretary Hagel's statements before the committee have given us assurance that that Ft. Hamilton's WMD-CST will remain intact and funded.
"The 24th National Guard WMD-CST team has done exceptional job, not just in New York, but also in Boston where they were on the ground responding to the horrific attack on the marathon. I am so proud of their work and thrilled that they will remain at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton. This week's events have reminded us that we must remain vigilant, and this elite team assists that effort."
Rep. Grimm led previous efforts to successfully secure language to save the two CSTs -- in New York and Florida -- after the Defense Department recommended disestablishing them. Despite this effort, the Department of Defense sent a letter on March 29, 2013 expressing its intent once again to disestablish the two teams.
In response to this news, Rep. Grimm joined with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and urged the Secretary not to cut the CSTs. Today, the Secretary's reversal of his decision is a reflection of their effort.
At today's hearing, Secretary Hagel was questioned three times on the issue of the CSTs. The video can be viewed here, and his replies are pasted below:
(1:17:46): Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) questions the Secretary, to which he replies, "They are important and we have put the funding in."
(1:31:15): Appropriation Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) asks, "Does your statement that you will keep them stand for the record?"
The Secretary states, "It does stand for the record."
(2:48:00): Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY) questions the Secretary on his March 29th letter to disestablish the two CSTs, to which the Secretary replies, "I have reversed the initial decision and that is why we will keep the funding."