MADISON, Wis. — Maj. Matthew Kelly is the new commander of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team (CST), a joint unit comprised of expert Soldiers and Airmen in various disciplines related to weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological hazards. He follows Lt. Col. Joe Davison, who is preparing to attend War College.
A private change of command ceremony July 10 – held privately due to concerns about COVID-19 – underscored the ongoing threat of the pandemic and precautions taken by the Wisconsin National Guard to maintain readiness.
“The 54th CST is, by any measure, one of the most ready units in all of the United States Armed Forces,” said Col. John Morgen, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 64th Troop Command, the parent unit for the 54th CST. The full-time unit is essentially always on call, with at least half of its 22 members required to assemble at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Madison within two hours of notification of a mission.
The 54th CST supports local and state authorities at domestic incident sites involving weapons of mass destruction or chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive agents by identifying such agents and substances, assessing consequences, advising how best to respond and assisting with any requests for additional military support. The unit members represent 14 different military specialties — including hazardous materials modeler, physician assistant, nuclear medicine science officer, satellite communications specialist, and weapons of mass destruction survey. In addition to individual skill sets, each team member is an International Fire Service Accreditation Congress certified hazardous materials technician.
The 54th CST is a state of Wisconsin asset, available to any incident commander statewide.
Kelly, like Davison before him, was deputy commander of the 54th CST. Prior to his time with the 54th CST, Kelly was a company commander during a deployment to Iraq, and also served as a supply officer as well as an operations, plans and training officer with the 724th Engineer Battalion.
“I’m honored to serve beside you,” Kelly told the 54th CST. “In my time on the team I’ve been amazed at your dedication, competence, tenacity and ingenuity. We have accomplished great things under Lt. Col. Davison’s command and he has truly set us up for success. Now it is up to us to move forward and execute.”
Davison expressed his confidence in Kelly’s leadership.
“Especially in this difficult and complicated time, his strong character, good judgment and genuine concern for the readiness and welfare of this unit make me certain this team will continue to thrive and excel,” Davison said to members of the 54th CST. “Do your utmost to support Maj. Kelly in the same way you’ve supported me.”
Davison also urged the unit to continue to uphold its honor and reputation, seek ways to grow and improve, and to treat each other as family.
“Bring this attitude to the work you do, and success will follow,” Davison said.
Under Davison’s tenure, the 54th CST established a top national score on the rigorous Standardization Evaluation and Assistance Team inspection, and became the first civil support team nationwide to win the prestigious William L. Sibert award, an award presented to units in the chemical community for organizational excellence.