Post-Event Report NCT América del Sur 2020



The 3rd edition of NCT South America took place between February 4th and 5th 2020 in Bogotá, Colombia, in official partnership with the Colombian National Army (Ejército Nacional de Colombia), concretely the Education and Doctrine Command (Comando de Educación y Doctrina, CEDOC) under the Army Doctrine Center (Centro de Doctrina del Ejército, CEDOE) and the Military Education Center (Centro de Educación Militar, CEMIL). 

The event took place at the Infantry School location of the Colombian Army. The two-day event was the largest CBRN and EOD/demining-focused event in the region, with close to 350 participants from Colombian military and civil organizations as well as key organizations and industry representatives from countries such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, the USA, as well as the Netherlands, the UK, Poland, Germany and France.

The event comprised two days of CBRN and EOD/C-IED-focused conference sessions with presentation from international experts and practitioners, an industry exhibition, and the famous NCT Networking Reception. Parallel to the event, the 5th edition of the NCT PRO Trainings for first responder teams also took place. 

Conference Day I February 4th

The first conference day was opened by the Conference Chairman Mr. José Zëa Aguero, the Director of the Center for Chemical Information (CINQUI) of Peru, together with Ms. Anna Paternnosto, the Vice-President of the CBRNe Society, and Mr.Ilja Bonsen, the Director of IB Consultancy. The Opening Plenary Session began witha key note speech from Brig. Gen. Edgar Albert Rodríguez Sánchez, the Commanderof CEDOC, which set the tone and focus for the day as the Brig. Gen. welcomed the participants on behalf of the Colombian Army. Col. Pedro Javier Rojas Guevara, the Director of CEDOE, then complemented the opening discourse with a presentation on the history and the capabilities of CEDOE as well as theCBRNe and non-conventional threat doctrine of the Army. The Opening Plenary closed with the presentation by Brig. Gen. Larry Lynch Solís, the Commander of the Peru Fire and Rescue Service, who introduced the audience to the Fire Service’s capabilities and preparation for CBRN and HazMat incidents. 

After the session’s opening, participants had the chance to attend the conference exhibition, which show cased the latest solutions, technological innovations and products in the fields of CBRN and EOD.The exhibition made it possible to interact directly with leading industry representatives and learn about the newest technological advances in combatting or preparing for non-conventional threats.The exhibition area was available to visit throughout the conference and the ambient setting provided a perfect networking atmosphere.

The first conference session dealt with the challenging topic of the latest trends regarding non-conventional threats as well as the development of CBRN solutions in South America, in which industrial knowledge intertwined with practical first-responder experience. The session kicked off with a presentation by Cpt. Johan Manuel Reyes Vargas discussing the CBRN defense capabilities of the Disasters Battalion of the Colombian Army. Connecting the end-users to the industry in a mutually beneficial manner, Col. (ret.) John Hernández Méndez introduced the decontamination solutions of Cristanini and the direct need for reliable and efficient means of response to HazMat incidents, as shown on various case studies. Lt. Col. Nicolás Pietrobelli then discussed the extensive CBRN capabilities, equipment and training of the Engineers CBRN Defense Company of the Argentine Army and the realities with regards to non-conventional threats in Argentina. The session closed with the expert insights of Ms. Guylaine Tomotoeva from Proengin, who enlightened the audience on the principles of flame photospectrometry in the detection of new CBRN threats and its use in the industry. 

Following the afternoon break, the topic of the session concerned the detection and research on explosives and narcotics. Ms. Daniela Andrea Suárez Naranjo from the Anti-Drug Trafficking Department of the Office of the Attorney General presented a compelling case for a comprehensive disruptive strategy against drug trafficking in Colombia. The following presentation by the CEO of the US-based company B&W Tek, Mr. Thomas Zawislak focused on the technical aspects of effective explosives, narcotics and chemicals detection, specifically via Raman spectroscopy. The session came to a close with a viewpoint from Mr. Rubén Darío Quiroz Sánchez from the Colombian National Police, who spoke on the forensic chemistry capabilities of the Police when it comes to narcotics, toxicology and explosives analysis. 

The fruitful first conference day finished with the famous NCT Networking Reception on the terrace of the Infantry School, providing the participants with an impressive panoramic view of the sunset over the hills surrounding Bogotá. The evening represented the perfect opportunity for participants, speakers and industry to mingle and interact, exchanging knowledge and strengthening links with other CBRN and EOD professionals over a glassof wine.The reception was a true success, and the participants departed the venue excitedly ready for the second day of the event. 

Conference Day II February 5th

The second day, which focused proportionately more on the issue of explosives, kicked off with the first session of the day zooming onto landmines, demining and UXOs – a topic of high relevance in Colombia and Latin America. Brig. Gen. Omar Esteban Sepúlveda Carvajal, the Commander of the Engineers Command of the Colombian Army, spoke at length about the history as well as the present situation and case studies of IEDs in Colombia. Having explored the situation in Colombia, we then heard demining case studies from different countries, highlighting the transnational dimension of this threat. Lt. Col. Robert Fabian Gómez, the Director of the Uruguayan Army Engineers School shared the Uruguayan Army’s experiences in demining, including its participation in the UN demining mission in Angola.The session closed with the presentation of Lt. Col. (ret.) Alejandro Pérez Álvarez, the former Commander of the Demining Unit of the Chilean Army and former Vice-Director of the Chilean National Humanitarian Demining Committee, who spoke at length on the difficulties and realities of demining in the tough climates of Chile’s countryside, as well as about the work of the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines (CCCM) where he currently serves as the Director of Demining. 

After a productive morning networking break whereby the participants again got to engage with the industry and get to know the latest technologies in the field, the attention of the conference program shifted towards chemical and biological emergencies as threats to public health. We heard from Col. Claudia Patricia Méndez Bejarano from the Health Department of the Colombian Army, an experienced researcher and expert on tropical illnesses affecting military personnel, above all leishmaniasis and the Chagas disease. An interactive session with the Chairman Mr. José Zea Agüero followed, where participants got the chance to review various chemical and biological accidents in Latin America as threats to public health and discuss the appropriate responses to be taken. The session closed with Mr. Ricardo Alfredo Coronado Avella who spoke about the Colombian Civil Defense and its relation to aiding in public emergencies and CBRNe events. 

Following the delicious lunch at the terrace of the Infantry School, the participants attended a conference session dedicated to the threat of IEDs in Colombia. We heard from Maj. José Luis Cabrera Pérez, the Director of the Anti-Terrorism Counter-Explosive Group (GRANT) of the National Police, who enlightened us on the capabilities of the Police in responding to terrorist incidents involving explosive articles. Second Lieutenant Mónica Dayana Hérnandez Sala of the MARTE C-IED Unit then introduced the capabilities and the resources of the Colombian Army as well as the varied types of IED threats and the toll they take on the civilian population, whilst Deputy First Sgt. Héctor Fabio Palacio Parra, Explosives Technician from the OMEGA Joint Force of the Colombian Army, focused on the use of dirty bombs in terrorist attacks in Colombia. 

The final session brought together the issues of CBRN as well as explosives as the future challenges in the South American region. Col. Alexandre Marcos Carvalho de Vasconcelos, a CBRN expert from the Brazilian Army, spoke on the CBRN capabilities of the Army and its preparation for future challenges posed bynon-conventional threats. Lt. ÁlvaroToñanez, Training Official of the HazMat Unit from Miami Fire Dade Rescue, USA,discussed the subject of preparing for CBRN incidents in the context of high-profile large-scale events. Lastly, we heard the perspective of the Fire and Rescue Unit of Bogotá on HazMat incident response from Sgt. Javier Claros Losadaand Corporal Wilmar Cristancho Morales.The event then officially closed with a ceremony by the Colombian Army, which included the presentation of Training Certificates to the PRO Training participants on behalf of the CBRNe Society. 

NCT PRO Trainings

Parallel to the conference, the 5th edition of the NCT PRO Trainings took place during the two entire days. This unique concept, focused on interoperability, gave various Colombian first responder units the opportunity to train together in simulated CBRNe/C-IED scenarios. These ‘life-like’ simulations included situations such as the decontamination of a seized car filled with chemicals, clandestine laboratory, and response to a bag and/or a car left behind by an extremist organization suspected of containing a (dirty) bomb. The teams were tasked with the analysis of the situation and/or materiel, decontamination of the area and/or disposal of the explosive threat present.

The units participating included the Colombian National Police, Bogotá Fire and Rescue, Bogotá Volunteer Firefighters, various units of the Colombian Army, the Air Force and the Navy. Each scenario lasted around 2-3 hours and involved the joint participation of two units from two different organizations, with the aim of encouraging interoperability. Following a briefing by the Trainers, the teams were then tasked with responding to a given ‘life-like’ situation. The training then concluded with a debriefing session following the exercise. 

The teams had the opportunity to try out new state-of-art technologies generously provided by our PRO Training Sponsors Cristanini, Proengin, ORTEC, Polco S.A.S. (with the products of B&W Tek and Metrohm), Airsense Analytics and H3D. Moreover, we would like to thank MAC7 and Hotzone Solutions who made the trainings possible by leading and designing the training scenarios. 

We would like to wholeheartedly thank all the Delegates and Speakers for their participation, as well as our Sponsors

Cristanini, Meridian Medical Technologies, Hotzone Solutions and Polco S.A.S.

who made this event possible!

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