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Hernando airport officials courting National Guard civil support team

BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport may be in line to snag a third National Guard unit.

Several days ago, airport manager Don Silvernell met with a planning team with the Florida National Guard, which is scoping out a permanent location for the 48th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, now headquartered in Clearwater.

"They came here because they heard that we are Guard friendly,'' Silvernell said. "And we are.''

Team members told Silvernell they need a site between 4 and 5 acres. Silvernell told them that he has 2,400 acres and all they need to do is pick a site.

He also explained that there is a 3-acre spot that is available, adjacent to the existing Army National Guard and Army Air National Guard units at the airport.

Silvernell said group members were excited about the possibilities at that site.

The team is shopping around with the goal of finding a permanent home, according to Lt. Col. James Evans, director of public affairs for the Florida National Guard.

The unit was formed in 2008 and is currently in leased space at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

Evans said the team is looking at both Brooksville and the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center in Pinellas Park for relocation. Both have the possibility of sharing National Guard facilities, he said. It also is possible the unit could remain at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport.

At Brooksville, the Army recently moved C-23 Sherpa aircraft off-site, leaving room in the hangars, which could be a plus for the civil support team, Evans said.

The 48th was the second civil support team formed in Florida and was certified in 2011. The first is based at Camp Blanding near Starke. Evans was unsure when a move might take place.

The team comprises 22 full-time soldiers and airmen, and is designed to assist emergency first responders during incidents involving chemical, biological or radiological threats.

Civil support teams can bring highly technical equipment and expertise to the scene of any emergency and help civilian agencies and emergency management officials. They can also coordinate additional state and federal assets in case of an emergency.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando airport officials courting National Guard civil support team 04/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 9:26pm]

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