The Asia-Pacific region (APAC) contains some of the world’s most industrialized and rapidly industrializing countries, and is home to approximately 60% of the global population. Arguably, therefore, the region is also at the forefront of the emerging multipolar global order, and is a region where CBRNe preparedness is growing on the list of national security priorities.
It is in this environment that NCT PRO Challenge APAC took place in at the Naresuan Base in Hua Hin, Thailand, from December 11-15, 2023. The week-long event of CBRNe training united teams from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore, and was sponsored by seven companies. These were: AIRSENSE Analytics GmbH, Heyl Chem.-pharm. Fabrik GmbH & Co. KG, VCsecurity, Scanna, Rigaku Analytical Devices, Omega Dev Group, and Logos Imaging.
The event focused on the needs of specialised SOF, SWAT, CBRNe, and EOD teams, with training provided by experienced international professionals.
NCT PRO Challenge APAC took place in three phases: “Awakening”, “Cooperate & Implement”, and “NCT PRO Challenge”.
“Awakening” was the first two days of the event. An icebreaker event on Monday evening kickstarted NCT PRO Challenge APAC, while Tuesday focused on dedicated Tech & Skills Focus Briefings. In these sessions, teams received product training, and skill set and knowledge training that allowed them to use that skill or product during the week. The Briefing started with two hours of classroom training on recognizing IEDs, base concepts of CBRN defense, and the basics of Sensitive Site Exploitation.
Specific technology and product training was provided by the seven company sponsors of NCT PRO Challenge APAC.
“Cooperate & Implement” was the second phase of the event, and took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. This phase involved training teams working together to execute one of the four base missions: “Boom Factory”, “Glowing Car”, “Vespa Vacation”, and “Broken Arrow”. These were short training assignments of 2-3 hours in which 2-3 teams with complimentary skills and experience cooperated using new technologies led by an NCT instructor.
“Boom Factory” was a joint operation between SWAT/SOF units and drug enforcement agencies to dismantle a high-profile clandestine lab operated by a notorious local criminal group.
“Glowing Car” involved tracking suspects believed to be trafficking HAZMAT and explosive substances on Thai soil, and, upon reaching the target location, securing the area and removing a vehicle suspected to be contaminated.
“Vespa Vacation” involved a moped being parked in the vicinity of a local government building before the arrival of a delegation of high-level government officials. Suspicions were particularly high as a local insurgency group was known to have delivered IEDs by moped in the past.
“Broken Arrow” saw a drone suddenly appearing during a visit of high-level government officials to a building. Security personnel used an anti-drone system to bring down the drone, whereupon they noticed that the device was carrying a chemical or explosive payload. Teams had to investigate and render the device safe.
“NCT PRO Challenge” was the signature phase of the event, in which teams competed on CBRNe/SWAT related competitions on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons, with teams receiving their certificates at the end of each afternoon. These scenarios were called “Toxic Jungle”, “High Rise Assault”, “Student Science”, and “CBRN Live Fire”.
“Toxic Jungle” involved a husband and wife being discovered unconscious in a rural area. Local people call an EMT team who assume they are probably poisoned with a CW agent. Teams were tasked to search the area for any traces of the agent.
In “High Rise Assault” it was confirmed that a local terrorist group was using a high-rise building in Hua Hin as a hideout. It is suspected that an improvised chemical and explosive device is being built inside, and the primary mission is to raid the hideout, apprehend key criminal group members, and secure the location.
In “Student Science”, a group of students from a university were co-opted with funding from a local crime group, after which it emerges that the nature of their “Do It Yourself Chemistry” changes. Teams were tasked with executing a site exploitation looking for evidence of criminal activity, and assessing whether the site is safe to dismantle.
Finally, in “CBRN Live Fire”, training teams had to conduct several live fire drills covering basic shooting skills, which are necessary to operate in a tactical CBRN contaminated area. Before performing drills, NCT instructors demonstrated shooting techniques and members of the training teams later performed them.
NCT PRO Challenge APAC will return on 28 October – 1 November, running in parallel with NCT APAC 2024, taking place in Hua Hin, Thailand.