Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Military News

Florida Guard unit in Clearwater saved from elimination

The Pentagon backed off its plan to eliminate a Florida National Guard unit in Clearwater this week that was created to respond to potential terrorist attacks and other disasters.

The Florida Guard's 22-member 48th Civil Support Team, one of two in Florida and the only CST in the nation with a maritime capability, had been slated for elimination by the Pentagon, said Rep. C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense.

Young said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appeared before his subcommittee earlier this week when Young asked about plans to cut the Florida CST and one in New York, which also has two such teams.

"These are important teams, and Congress is very, very supportive" of them, Young, R-Indian Shores, said at the hearing.

Hagel, however, said the Pentagon had decided to keep the two units after all. Young said Hagel, perhaps surprised, may have made the decision on the spot. No officials in neither state had yet been informed of such a decision, he said.

"He appeared a little flustered and said the decision had been reversed," Young said. A Pentagon spokesman could not be reached to comment late Thursday.

Thomas Kielbasa, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, confirmed that the 48th had been targeted for cuts along with the unit in New York. Both states are the only ones in the nation with two CSTs, Kielbasa said.

The 48th, the Florida Guard said, costs about $5 million a year to operate.

The proposed cuts to the CSTs were unrelated to across-the-board sequestration cuts that were imposed starting March 1, according to Young and the Florida Guard.

The 48th and other CSTs were created to respond to situations involving weapons of mass destruction, from biological attacks to nuclear weapons. But as is the case with all Guard assets, they also are used for other emergencies. In fact, one of New York's CSTs responded to the bombings at the Boston Marathon earlier this week.

Young said it was especially important for the Clearwater CST to survive because it is closest to MacDill Air Force Base, which is home to two major U.S. military headquarters — U.S. Special Operations Command and Central Command.

"In view of the clear threats to our nation, and recognizing Florida's high concentrations of valuable infrastructure, population densities, tourist destinations and size, it was imperative that Florida retain both existing CSTs," said the Florida Guard's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr.

The 48th CST is located at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

The second Florida CST, the 44th, is located at Camp Blanding near Starke. The 44th responded to the anthrax attacks a decade ago.

Comments
Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

TAMPA — The recent cold snap has been more than just an inconvenience for Floridians. It’s been tough on fish and potentially hazardous to flights at MacDill Air Force Base.The National Weather Service says temperatures in early January fell to as lo...
Published: 01/16/18
Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Nuclear experts are warning, using some of their most urgent language since President Donald Trump took office, that Hawaii’s false alarm Saturday, in which state agencies alerted locals to a nonexistent missile attack, underscores a growing risk of ...
Published: 01/14/18

Leaked draft of Pentagon’s nuclear review shows desire for new kinds of weapons

A leaked draft of the Pentagon’s forthcoming nuclear weapons review shows that senior defense officials are keen to not only modernize the aging U.S. arsenal, but add new ways to wage nuclear war as Russia, China and other adversaries bolster their o...
Published: 01/13/18
Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

The military’s first female four-star general will serve as the Community Hero for the 2018 Gasparilla Pirate Fest.The Community Hero is an individual living in the Tampa Bay area who offers courage, strength and self-sacrifice in the service of othe...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
CentCom investigating video that appears to show a service member opening fire on a civilian

CentCom investigating video that appears to show a service member opening fire on a civilian

The U.S. military is investigating a video posted to YouTube that appears to depict a U.S. service member opening fire on a civilian driving a truck in Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said.The video, apparently recorded on a camera attached to a...
Published: 01/11/18
2019 Warrior Games coming to Tampa

2019 Warrior Games coming to Tampa

TAMPA — The 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games are coming to Tampa.U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson made the announcement Monday after receiving a letter from the Pentagon.In a recent letter, the Pentagon informed Nelson that the games, which drew about 5...
Published: 01/08/18
U.S. intelligence failed to foresee North Korea’s nuclear Strides

U.S. intelligence failed to foresee North Korea’s nuclear Strides

WASHINGTON — At the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. intelligence agencies told the new administration that while North Korea had built the bomb, there was still ample time — upward of four years — to slow or stop its development of a missile...
Published: 01/07/18
‘12 Strong’ story: First, they conquered the horses they rode, then the Taliban

‘12 Strong’ story: First, they conquered the horses they rode, then the Taliban

ST. PETERSBURG — Mark Nutsch and Bob Pennington, Army Green Berets, were assigned to help Afghan fighters take back their nation from the Taliban during the weeks after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.One thing no one thought about, though, was...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/05/18
Howard Altman: Military veterans may find right fit in today’s agriculture jobs

Howard Altman: Military veterans may find right fit in today’s agriculture jobs

If you’ve seen images of strawberry farmers spraying down their crops to protect them against a freeze, you know agriculture is big business in Hillsborough County.It’s an industry that worth $1 billion a year in crops, livestock and ancillary produc...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/05/18
MacDill considering changes to its ban on recreational drones

MacDill considering changes to its ban on recreational drones

TAMPA — Recreational drones are becoming more popular every day and with that in mind, officials at MacDill Air Force Base are looking into whether to end a base-wide ban on the unmanned aircraft.The ban was instituted last year by the base commander...
Published: 01/02/18
Updated: 01/03/18