UXOs and C-IED in Europe: NCT eXplosive Europe debuting in Belgrade
After more than four successful years in Asia, the NCT eXplosive event series debuted this year in Europe. With the participation of I(N)GOs, government agencies, military and police forces from more than 20 countries, both the organizer, IB Consultancy, and the event partner, the Serbian Mine Action Center, were highly satisfied with the first explosive event ever held in the Republic of Serbia.
With the continuous support of the Gold Sponsor, Bruker Detection, the Bronze Sponsor, SAAB, and IT Concepts, from 22 to 24 September, the participants discussed a broad range of explosives related challenges in Europe. Starting with the outstanding demining efforts in the Balkans and lessons learned of EOD in densely populated areas in Western Europe, additional topics of discussion were explosives trafficking in current conflict regions, respective IED knowledge transfer within terrorist networks and urgent IED related threats to critical infrastructure.
Live Demining Exercise in Paracin, Serbia
Before this year’s delegations could enjoy the sessions at the historical Metropol Palace Hotel in Belgrade’s city center, they first had the opportunity to explore mine action activities in Serbia at their finest. Approximately 150km south of Belgrade, the Serbian Mine Action Center, the Russian EMERCOM and Norwegian People’s Aid introduced the international attendees to different EOD and land release approaches in the country. Performed in a UXO and mine contaminated field in Paracin, the three stakeholders showcased their very different capabilities and EOD approaches. First the remotely controlled mechanical demining machines utilized in Serbia were demonstrated, followed by a live manual demining session including an introduction into international standards in manual demining procedures. Another highlight was the demonstration of K9 dogs trained by Norwegian People’s Aid in Bosnia-Herzegovina and employed in Paracin. The dogs demonstrated highly sophisticated mine-detection capabilities, followed by a live illustration on how to use these dogs as well in missions related to border security. The first day ended with a drinks and networking reception at the terrace of the Metropol Palace Hotel.
International expertise shared with the delegates
On September 23, IB Consultancy and the Serbian Mine Action Center had the honor to welcome other regional Mine Action Centers from Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina that gave first-hand insights in their impressive demining activities. Not only against the background of the current refugee crisis, it became clear that those neighboring countries are not only dealing with an enormous amount of contaminated areas, but are also cooperating with each other in an internationally unmatched manner for mine-related matters, such as safe passages across the borders. Afterwards, ITF and DanChurchAid gave an insight into the demining challenges they face in current conflict regions such as Lebanon and Libya. While both countries are regularly dominating worldwide news headlines, receiving an update on the existing threat of ERW and UXO contaminated areas was both impressive and devastating. It became clear that, especially in Libya where ISIS is gaining on influence, the challenge of explosives trafficking will develop as an emerging threat to both Europe’s intelligence agencies and police and military forces that will have to deal with explosive threats in the future.
Colonel Helmut Heck, Director of the German Armed Forces’ C-IED Center, picked up that topic once again on September 24, giving an overview of IED knowledge transfer between international terrorist networks worldwide, IED trends such as drone-borne IEDs and respective countermeasures introduced by the German Armed Forces. At the same time, NATO, the U.S. Army’s European Command and the European Defense Agency underlined their efforts in EOD and C-IED capability building in Europe. One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the UK Metropolitan Police on IED related threats in London, amplifying the current IED threat scenarios that the police and military forces are facing in and outside Europe. Rounding up the event, the Estonian Rescue Board and Dutch Armed Forces presented their very own and innovative approaches of dealing with ERW and IEDs in their countries such as container-based controlled EOD in densely populated areas or terrains of critical infrastructure, e.g. the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
“The NCT Explosive Europe Conference was important to Saab in order to offer and demonstrate to regional countries within Europe with significant IED, mine and Explosive Remnants of War threats, a proven training solution utilised to effectively and efficiently train their respective responsive task forces. IB consultancy was timely and highly efficient in accommodating the needs of Saab and as a result, significant opportunities were presented resulting in the event achieving the outcomes that Saab had desired. A very successful and worthwhile conference, executed impeccably.” Neil Patrick, Director, Marketing & Sales – Land Systems, Saab Asia Pacific