Last month the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands’ National Training Center (NTC) was home to the 35th edition of the NCT event series, NCT Europe 2018. The three-day event took place in Vught, The Netherlands, from the 3rd to the 5th of July and was organized by the CBRNe Society and IB Consultancy in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Once again, the CBRNe Society had the great pleasure of welcoming close to 300 new and loyal delegates, speakers and exhibitors from Europe, the USA, Middle East, Asia and South America. First responders, decision-makers, military personnel, and industry representatives had the opportunity to join discussions and networking groups to improve international CBRNe defense and response, as well as to contribute to our global security.
Multinational Trainings and Live Demonstrations
NCT Europe introduced an innovative feature: NCT Pro Trainings. Teams from all over Europe and abroad came together at the NTC for daily trainings on different CBRNe scenarios. Teams from different countries and units were matched to work together on solving CBRNe, C-IED/EOD scenarios. The participating teams included:
- State Border Guard Service & State Emergency Service, Ukraine
- Recon and Decon Team, Bundeswehr CBRN Defence Command, Germany
- Fire Rescue Service, Czech Republic
- TEDAX (Technician Specialist in Deactivation of Explosive Artifacts) – NRBQ, National Police, Spain
- Italian Red Cross Military Corps, Italy
- First Engineer Regiment, Armed Forces, Poland
- Military Engineering and CBRN Training Centre, Armed Forces, Poland
- Nuclear Detection Team, Dutch Customs, The Netherlands
- United Arab Emirates Presidential Guard, Armed Forces, UAE
The Israel Defense Forces, the Dutch Army EOD Centre, the Czech Army’s 31st CBRN Defense Regiment and the US Navy joined the trainings as observers.
CBRNe incidents increasingly require an international response, which is why the focus of the trainings was multinational and multidisciplinary cooperation. It was fascinating to see two teams from different backgrounds communicating through shared skill techniques serving as a common language. A big thank you must be extended to Hotzone Solutions and MAC 7 for developing and running the training scenarios, as well as to the sponsors that provided their technologies for first responders to experiment with. The successful execution of the trainings saw positive feedback from the first responders to join the trainings again and a shared eagerness in dealing with novel technologies different to those they work with at home.
Alongside multinational trainings, and following the NCT tradition, NCT Europe 2018 also hosted daily live demonstrations under the direction of the Dutch Ministry of Defense in the fields of CBRN, C-IED and EOD. This year, the Dutch National Team Forensic Detection (LTFO), the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM), and the CBRN Response Unit (CBRN RE) also featured live displays and demonstrations with their latest novel equipment. It was the perfect opportunity for industry representatives and delegates to deepen the discussion about the growing CBRNe security and defense sector.
Conferences and workshops
NCT Europe welcomed a panel of very high-level speakers who led discussions on a variety of topics ranging from CBRNe to EOD topics. The conference stream was chaired by Brig. Gen. (ret.) William King, former Commander of the US Army 20th CBRNE Command who mediated the discussions in an excellent manner throughout the duration of the event, keeping the interaction between speakers and the audience vivid.
This year’s NCT Europe conference was opened by a keynote speech from the Inspector General of the Royal Netherlands combined Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Hans van Griensven followed by Mr. Douglas Bryce, Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD); Brig. Gen. Moon Sun-joon, Commander of the South Korean Army CBRN School and Col. Burg W. Valk, Commander of the Dutch Engineering Training Center of the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces. Each keynote speaker touched upon key elements of the CBRNe threat environment, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation to succeed in multinational response and defense operations. The first day of the event was kick started with the opening plenary and the thematic exhibition tours: the NCT Expo Tour provided an excellent opportunity for the delegates to learn about the state-of-the-art equipment showcased by interacting with the CBRNe and C-IED industry representatives in their areas of interest. In the afternoon the discussion in the conference room addressed new solutions in decontamination, while the workshop focused on CBRNe international military cooperation and was led by representatives of the Belgian and Dutch CBRNe military units.
Day two welcomed a busy stream of discussions on technology and innovation, C-IED threats, protection of borders and critical infrastructures with the participation of English, German, Polish, Austrian and Brazilian speakers. The workshop stream focused on medical countermeasures for CBRNe emergencies and on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The discussion was led by Dr. Houssam Alnahhas, Coordinator of the CBRNe Task Force of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations. Dr. Alnahhas, who left the brutality of Syria’s chemical attacks in 2014, brought first-hand experience to the workshop by sharing testimonies on how Syria’s limited response capability affects rescue operations. At the end of day, the famous NCT BBQ Reception and Party was the perfect opportunity for networking under the warm sun and animated by the Dutch band, Three/Third XL. Delegates, VIPs, speakers, exhibitors and trainees gathered for a more creative exchange and to enjoy live music, drinks and good food.
The topics of CBRNe civil-military cooperation and radiological and nuclear emergency management were at the center of the event’s last day. The discussions brought together speakers from the Dutch National Police, the Swiss Armed Forces NBC-EOD Center of Competence, the Dutch CBRN Defense Center, the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and Environment and the Safety Region West Brabant amongst others. The parallel workshops introduced new methods of data collection on C-IED incidents and attacks, while the second saw Prof. Peter Blain leading the discussion on the use of the Novichok agent in the Skripal poisoning which took place in Salisbury earlier this year.
The Closing Plenary: CBRNe international cooperation is the key
The Joint Closing Plenary concluded a successful NCT Europe 2018 event. Lt. Col. Andrea Gloria, Commander of the Italian 1st NBC Defence Battalion “Adria”; Maj. Peter Balazs, Chief Engineering Officer from the Hungarian Defence Forces; and Col. Burg W. Valk discussed international cooperation in CBRNe on stage. CBRNe threats are on the rise and the frequency with which attacks are taking place all around the world is causing concerns on the accessibility of CBRNe substances and explosive precursors. With this in mind, the event made it clear that Europe must work hard to be a step ahead in the ever-evolving CBRNe threats. The parallel of the trainings and the program highlighted that multinational and multi-agency cooperation is crucial. All in all, NCT Europe 2018 provided the perfect opportunity to expand the CBRNe network in the region for the purpose of making this world a safer and more secure place.