By Ilja Bonsen
NCT Consultants Managing Director Ilja Bonsen looks back on an eventful 2023, and reveals NCT’s plans for 2024.
The year 2023 marked some important milestones for NCT, with the first and biggest obviously being the name change and rebranding that took place. With the name NCT Consultants, we have a single name for the different companies in the group, and one that reflects the importance and cohesion of the team putting all the different elements together to ensure valuable and successful events.
With six events on four continents, NCT again delivered the global CBRNe community with opportunities to network, learn, and train in Peru, the Netherlands, Croatia, the USA, Malaysia, and Thailand. In 2023, NCT was for the first time not only the largest CBRNe event organizer globally as we have been for years, but for the first time we were the number one event in the USA too, making NCT the largest and leading event in each region.
Our partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Defence in organizing the International CBRN Commanders and Commandants Conference (ICCC) in the Netherlands was a great success, allowing participants of the ICCC and NCT Europe to interact and network. We would like to take the opportunity to thank LTC Andre van Wijk of the Dutch Armed Forces for giving us the chance to work with him and his great team!
NCT PRO Challenge APAC 2023 welcomed teams from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Korea. Thai television was also present to have a prime-time item on NCT PRO Challenge broadcast on Channel 3 and Channel 5.
January 2023 also marked the first edition of the new NCT CBNW Magazine, one of the oldest CBRN publications that was acquired by NCT Consultants in 2022. This article is being published in the fifth edition under the new management. The NCT design team has done an amazing job in creating a new image for the magazine with an “NCT look and feel”. CBNW Magazine is also the only publication in the world of CBRNe in American English and Spanish.
Evil Should Be Fought, Not Appeased
The year 2023 also knew some low points. The continued Russian aggression against Ukraine is something that touches us personally. The NCT team has members from Ukraine and some of them still live in Ukraine under constant threat of Russian attacks against civilian targets. Meanwhile, the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7 left over a thousand civilians dead, and at the time of writing over 120 hostages are still held captive by Hamas.
However, the deepest low came in the form of increased calls for ceasefires and land-for-peace deals that some are proposing in Europe and the USA. These calls only promote aggression and embolden the terrorist puppet masters in Moscow and Tehran. This is obviously not something that the NCT team supports. Evil should be fought, not appeased.
World War II and other wars have taught us that appeasement only rewards aggression and postpones the inevitable. As U.K. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain claimed in Munich in 1938, “peace in our time” was not peace then, neither will appeasement bring peace now, nor will it ever bring peace in the future.
Looking at 2024
In 2024 NCT will continue our mission to provide the CBRNe community with platforms to network, exchange knowledge and experience, and to train on realistic scenarios to make the world safer and more secure. The success of the PRO Training series is unparalleled, and in 2024 our experienced instructors will again work with our partners in special effects, sponsoring industry partners, and the NCT team to develop challenging training opportunities for CBRNe first responders, the military, and participating SOF and SWAT teams.
The largest CBRNe event of the year is planned to take place in Zagreb, Croatia. For the first time ever, NCT Europe and NCT PRO Challenge Europe will take place in parallel, simulating a post-conflict zone of operations in Ukraine. The war might be over, but the fighting hasn’t stopped, and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) prevent civil society from building up a new life in the city.
The location is a combination of ruins, high-rise buildings with destroyed glass windows, and farmland with hidden IEDs and ERWs. Underground areas are dark and show evidence of smuggling illegal immigrants. Threats to the civilian population include ERWs, unencumbered criminal groups, and irregular private militias from a neighboring country staging violent interventions. The day before NCT Europe 2024, an earthquake disturbed the confirmed locations of landmines and ERWs, and released toxic and radiological materials. Therefore, the national government has requested international support in dealing with these problems. NCT Europe 2024 will be built around the international support and relief mission.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time that a realistic training exercise will be combined with a conference, in which the sessions follow the scenarios from the exercise.
NCT USA 2024 will be the third edition in a row to take place in Edgewood, Maryland, and we expect that it will again be the largest CBRNe event in the USA, as it was in 2023. Hosted with the support of the American Team CBRNE in Edgewood, NCT USA supports the American warfighter and first responder in preparing for CBRNe threats by providing realistic training, timely conference topics, and an exhibition of leading technology providers.
In 2024 we will also return to Thailand where the first ever NCT event took place in 2012. NCT APAC will take place in Hua Hin alongside the NCT PRO Challenge event, in a similar manner as NCT Europe 2024. With teams from all over ASEAN, but also East Asia and the Pacific, NCT PRO Challenge 2024 will be Asia’s largest such training event. The year will close in Abu Dhabi with NCT Middle East.
We hope to welcome you to these events, and invite you to continue reading and contributing to CBNW Magazine.
The NCT Team
Finally, 2023 saw NCT welcome new members to our team. Kristi has taken over the project management at NCT for all the events and is doing a great job, as if she has been with us for years. Patrick joined this summer as the Editor of CBNW Magazine and as Conference Manager for our events in Europe, South America and the Middle East. We would like to thank them, and the rest of the team, Maria, Pepe, Petar, Alan, Michele, Daria, Vasilisa, Selin, Mohamed, and Polina, and of course our non-employed team members William, George, Vedran and Dave for their hard work in making NCT great!
We look forward to working with you all to make this world a safer and more secure place.
Ilja Bonsen is the Managing Director of NCT Consultants.