Dutch Defence CBRN Centre innovates its training facilities


Mr. Eyal Kapuza and Sgt. Ruud ter Linden, working for the Dutch Defense CBRN Centre, offer a detailed view of the Dutch Army efforts to build and update its CBRN defense skills.

As time goes by, CBRN defense, HAZMAT, and crisis management become a global interest among the different governments, militaries, and civil organizations. Whether the events occur as a result of accidents, terrorist attacks, or military operations, there are requirements for the response units in all fields to know and master the defensive procedures that should follow. This makes the training of the units even more crucial, which shall be as close as possible to the reality that they may encounter.

This understanding brought forth the development of the Bagira’s CBRN Simulation Training System (CBRN-STS). A few years back, the Dutch Defence CBRN Centre (DCBRNC) decided to step towards innovation and build a simulation system based at the CBRN National Training Center in Vught. At the National Training Center (NTC), military and civil units, Dutch or from other countries, come to train in a variety of exercises under realistic conditions. 

Introduction and explanation of CBRN STS to staff members, followed by a practical exercise ©RoyalNetherlandsArmy

Dozens sets of rooms and civil facilities form our CBRN training centre, such as a metro station, apartments, hotel reception to name a few. Bagira’s CBRN-STS consists of an accurate synthetic 3D representation of the NTC – presented on a computer screen. It allows free movement in all of its facilities, indoors and outdoors, view the different floors and rooms and change their furniture settings to realistically fit the rooms’ settings.

“The Bagira’s CBRN Simulation Training System allows the user to plant and define HAZMATs by weight and duration of dispersion from a bank of agents requested by the Dutch Ministry of Defense. The user can manipulate the weather conditions (that affect the agents’ dispersions”.

The system allows the user to plant and define HAZMATs by weight and the duration of dispersion from a bank of agents requested by the Dutch Ministry of Defense (MOD). These HAZMATs dispersions are represented in the system as their actual formation in real life, the outcome of the work of our developers and CBRN experts. The user can also manipulate the weather conditions (wind speed and direction, precipitation, humidity) that affect the agents’ dispersions. It is also possible to set human and vehicle models in the scene and assign movement behaviours to them and send to the participants media messages from the exercise’s “world”. This planning process of an exercise, or a scenario in it, is saved into an archive of exercises (Planning Mode). Each of them can be re-planned or played in real time for executing an exercise (Running Mode). When an exercise is running, participants and trainers register to a personal device with a corresponding application installed.

The participants select their unit and role. These units and roles – names, formations, models’ designs (actual appearances), Inverse Photoelectron Spectroscopy System (IPEs), CBRN detectors, and medical treatments – were defined by the Dutch MOD and configured and designed by Bagira accordingly. Upon logging in, the participants start with 100% health status, which can change through the course of the exercise. Furthermore, the system generates a 3D model of the participant and locating it in the synthetic environment according to the participants’s actual location at the NTC, using a highly accurate tracking system indoors and outdoors. From that point the exercise can start.

Performing actions such as walking around, approach, detection, identification, sampling, decontamination, and providing medical treatments are done both in real life and on the personal devices. The system will provide the participant proper feedback according to their actions. 3D models move accordingly, proper IPE selection provides protection from contaminations and prevents health degradation using proper detectors. Within a certain contamination, accurate and realistic readings will be generated. Decontamination and proper medical treatments will prevent further damage of health loss.

The trainers have independent access to the exercise and can manipulate or modify details fit to their training goals. The trainer selects the desired units to observe during registration. The main screen is the terrain’s 2D map. The trainer can access all the areas and facilities, as well as the different floors and rooms. On the map several icons appear:

  • The participant under the units the trainer has selected to view (regardless of other participants logged into the same running exercise)
  • Unit Detectors
  • CBRN agents and their dispersion. The application allows the trainer to create, modify, and delete CBRN agents, plant malfunctions in the participants’ detectors and IPEs, change participants’ health status and perform virtual de-contamination.

Moreover, the trainer has a variety of tools to evaluate the participants and the exercise itself. General and participants notes can be created in various forms, images, and videos that the trainer captures with the device, text comments, and voice recordings – all of which are time stamped on the main computer’s timeline for After Action Review purposes. 

Another evaluation tool is Protocols and Procedures. These are questionnaires, formed by the user, regarding certain procedures for the trainers to rate their participants’ performances. The results are saved and can be viewed in the main computer.

Eventually, the learning process does not end when the exercise ends. Correct performances should be recognized and maintained, while wrong performances should be discussed about for improvement. With this in mind, the system offers several AAR capabilities to maximize the value of this event. The virtual exercise on the main computer is being recorded through its progress. Along with live footage of the training facilities – captured by dozens of CCTV cameras that cover the areas, and communication done by the participants. 

All recordings are synchronized when played back. This allows the commanders to focus on certain events during the exercise that are worth noting and discussing about.

Apart from live trainings, Bagira’s CBRN-STS offers capabilities for virtual exercises mainly as chain of command exercises. A scenario is set for commanders of several types of units (fire department, medical, police etc.) using virtual entities in the area. For example, setting a car accident that causes a HAZMAT leak. By assessing the current situation, the commanders make decisions and command their teams to act accordingly. These are translated into the system as markings and actions done by the virtual forces in the field, whether it entails the deployment of forces, road blockage’s locations, or instructions to enter the scene, for instance. 

With the CBRN-STS, Bagira provides its users with an intuitive and easy-to-use platform with the goal of enhancing CBRN and crisis control exercises towards mission readiness. Safety and logistic difficulties can be set aside, and time is used more efficiently by focusing on the training. This way, CBRN response units and crisis management units can train effectively like they have never trained before.

About the Authors:

Mr. Eyal Kapuza, Simulation Site manager and Expert. He is partly responsible for building and implementing the CBRN Simulation Training System at CBRN National Training Centre Vught Netherlands.

Sgt. Ruud ter Linden is a Communications specialist at the Dutch Defense CBRN Centre, which operates under the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands. He is a former CBRN reconnaissance team leader in the Dutch military.

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