Terror unit faces axe at Fort Hamilton
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bay Ridge — The reaction of Army Reserve Maj. David Ryan to news that the Defense Department is considering removing an elite anti-terrorism unit from the Fort Hamilton Army Base was blunt.
“This decision was made by some faceless, nameless bureaucrat who doesn’t get it,” he said.
“That bureaucrat should visit New York City and that bureaucrat should talk to 9/11 families and explain to them why New York City is not a big priority,” said Ryan, who completed three combat tours in Iraq.
Ryan joined Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge) outside the fort’s main gate on Monday morning, to voice objections to the treatened elimination of one of two National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civic Support Teams now based in New York State. The other civil support team is stationed in Albany.
Either Albany or Bay Ridge may be cut but, Grimm said, “A little birdie told me they’re targeting Fort Hamilton.” The Fort Hamilton unit has 22 members.
The teams are trained to respond to a terror attack in which a weapon of mass destruction — such as a chemical or biological device — is used. They assess damage, assist in decontamination, and support such first responders as the police and fire departments.
“They’re experts,” Ryan said. “All they do is train for that day.”
There are 57 such teams nationwide. New York, California and Florida each have two teams. The Defense Department wants to eliminate one team from New York and one from Florida.
The teams’ elimination is contained in the Obama Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2013, Grimm said, calling it “another misguided proposal.”
“We are working across the aisle with our senators and the entire New York City congressional delegation” to save the Fort Hamilton team, he said.
“We are the Number One target in this entire country,” Grimm said. “It’s ridiculously absurd that Topeka, Kan., is going to keep a Civic Support Team.”
“I’m not saying that other parts of the country don’t deserve it, but the city of New York is different,” Grimm added, calling the planned cut “stupid and dangerous.”
Ryan echoed the congressman’s sentiments.
“Look, no offense to Little Rock or Boise. But this is where the terrorist attacks took place,” he said.
Grimm added that losing the team would make Fort Hamilton more vulnerable to the threat of closure should a new federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission be formed.
This new fight marks the second time Grimm and Bay Ridge community leaders have had to wage a battle to keep a component of the fort in place. Last year, the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers sought to move out of the fort and relocate to office space in Tribeca. The plan was dropped after Grimm and the community raised objections.
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