2nd CST Change of Command, June 9, 2014
New York Army National Guard Lt. Colonel Thomas Benton turns over command of the 2nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) to Lt. Colonel Andrew "Drew" Pinckney here on Monday, June 9.

Both men are veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

WHAT: Formal change of command ceremony to recognize the transfer of authority from Lt. Col. Thomas Benton to Lt. Col. Drew Pinckney. The flag of the 2nd CST will be formally passed from Benton to Pinckney, representing the transition of authority for the unit and its operations.

WHO: Lt. Colonel Thomas Benton (the outgoing commander), Lt. Colonel Drew M. Pinckney (the incoming commander) Brig General Raymond Shields, the Director of Joint Staff for the New York National Guard and the Soldiers and Airmen of the 2nd CST.

WHEN: 1 p.m. on Monday, June 9th, 2014.

WHERE: Stratton Air National Guard Base, 1 Air National Guard Road, Scotia, New York 12302-9752

Coverage Opportunity:

Imagery of the traditional change of command ceremony and interviews with the incoming commander and other New York National Guard leaders.

For access to this secure military facility members of the press must contact Master Sgt. Willie Gizara at 518-344-2423.


The Change of Command Ceremony dates back to the days in which a military unit's flag marked its position in the line of battle. The colors were always near the commander, so troops knew where to rally on the battlefield.

Today the transfer of the colors marks a change in the unit and gives the soldiers their first opportunity to see and hear their new leader.

The change of command ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of the outgoing commander and the Soldiers who served under him. In addition, the ceremony identifies the new commander to the Soldiers, so they can follow him on the field of battle.

Lt. Colonel Drew M. Pinckney

Pinckney entered the Army as a Specialist after graduating from Brockport State College in 1995. In 1998 he attended the Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer, serving in the 101st Air Airborne Division, 3rd Infantry Division and 10th Mountain Division until 2004.

In 2004 he left active duty and joined the New York Army National Guard's, taking command of C Troop 1-101 Cavalry, based in Hoosick Falls, NY. He also served as the 27th Brigade S1, Syracuse NY and the Executive officer of the

2-101 Cavalry, Buffalo NY.

He served in Kosovo as a Fire Support Officer for the 3rd Infantry Division in 2000 and 2001. Pinckney also served 2 tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003 and 2012 as a Fire Support Officer and a Commander of combat advisory team.

His military positions include Platoon Leader, Task Force Fire Support Officer, Company Commander, 27th Brigade Combat S1, Battalion Executive Officer, and Commander of Security Force Advisory Team 203.

His awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, NATO Award, Army Commendation Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Kosovo Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He has earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1995, from Brockport State College, New York.

He and his wife have 3 children

Lt. Col. Thomas Benton

Benton is originally from Frederick Maryland. He was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School program in 1997 and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nuclear Technology from New York Excelsior College. He also holds a Masters Degree in Fire Service and Emergency Management from American Military University.

While in the Navy he served as an engineering laboratory technician and diver on board the USS Gato, the USS Sand Lance, and the USS Trepang. His Army National Guard assignments have included service as a field medic, a platoon leader, survey team leader and operations officer for the 2nd CST, Plans and Operations Officer for the Domestic Operations Directorate of the New York National Guard, and deputy commander of the 2nd CST.

He is married to Suzanne Murphy, formerly of Queensbury, and has two children, Sarah and Christopher.

His awards include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, Submarine Warfare Badge, Scuba Diver Bade, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and NATO Medal.

He took command of the 2nd CST in August 2011. He will be retiring from the military.

2nd Civil Support Team

The 2nd Civil Support Team, which Benton took command of on Sept. 13, is based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia. The team can deploy throughout upstate New York or the northeast from that location. The 2nd CST routinely sends teams to be available during major events which could be the target of an attack like the Watkins Glen races, the U.S. Open, the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, and the World Series.

The 2nd CST is one of two Civil Support Teams manned by full-time members of the New York National Guard.

The New York National Guard also maintains the 24th CST which is based at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn and focuses on operations in the New York City metropolitan area.

The abbreviation CST is short for Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.
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