The 7th edition of NCT Europe 2017 successfully turned Sonthofen into the beating heart of European CBRN expertise between the 27th and the 29th of June. Within 100 meters of the Bundeswehr CBRN Defense, Safety and Environmental Protection School, Congress Center Haus Oberallgäu hosted international experts, government representatives, Armed Forces officials, first responders and numerous stakeholders and decision-makers in the field of CBRNe. The event provided an amazing platform to discuss capabilities, lessons learned and best practices. Building on the success of the previous edition in Amsterdam, NCT Europe 2017 welcomed delegations from all over Europe and beyond, with high-level representatives from countries such as Ukraine, South Korea, Japan and Syria.
The German, Austrian, Dutch and Czech Armed Forces kick-started the first day of the event with a live multinational demonstration, showcasing their current detection, sampling, identification and decontamination capabilities, as well as UGVs with counter CBRN capabilities. The following two conference and exhibition days featured two simultaneous conference and workshop streams, with the largest outdoor CBRNe exhibition in Europe yet, giving our 40 sponsors and exhibitors the unique opportunity to display large-sized vehicles and equipment. Guy Roberts, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for WMD Policy in NATO, and Col. Wolfgang Karl-Heinz Reich, Head of the Capability Development Division at the Bundeswehr CBRN Defense Command led the workshop and conference streams, offering experienced insights during the different sessions.
Live capability demonstration at the NATO training area in Bodelsberg
The first day was highlighted by a capability display and multilateral live demonstration, performed by the German, Austrian, Dutch and Czech Armed Forces, which was attended by 150 delegates, exhibitors and military personnel. It gave the participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the different CBRN and C-IED capabilities of several European Armed Forces. This allowed industry representatives to gain valuable insight on the current equipment. The display encompassed a variety of aspects of CBRN, including modern civil-military decontamination capabilities, mobile sampling and identification technology both in the form of handheld devices and unmanned vehicles. The live demonstration was highlighted by a dynamic display of decontamination and reconnaissance devices by the German, Dutch and Austrian forces, followed by an insightful presentation of the different decontamination modules and vehicles. In the name of NCT tradition, the live demonstration was followed by the NCT Party & BBQ Dinner, which had the pleasure to host the performance of the Bruker band this year.
Conference Sessions and Interactive Workshops
The conference was inaugurated by the two chairmen, Guy Roberts and Col. Wolfgang Reich, who called for an increase in international cooperation in an age of new and evolving CBRN threats and challenges of this century. Shortly after, the distinguished Lt. Gen. Richard Rossmanith, Commander of the Multinational Forces Operations Command at the Joint HQ in Ulm, highlighted the evolving nature of the CBRN threat after the Cold War. He emphasized current affairs in which the states are facing a double-sided threat of both symmetric and asymmetric warfare. Adding onto the appeal of NCT’s two chairmen he reiterated the urgency of building a stronger multinational defense network in Europe, underlining the importance of an improved German support contribution to NATO. This fed into the presentation of Lt. Col. Stephan Jacobsen, Military Advisor at the NATO WMD Non-Proliferation Center. He discussed three main points: the relevance of civil-military cooperation in the current NATO agenda which aims at decreasing vulnerability across the spectrum and developing a comprehensive set of defense capabilities. Subsequently, Col. Hans-Christian Hettfleisch, Branch Head of CBRN Defense at the German Ministry of Defense discussed the growing importance of international and inter-governmental cooperation in the fields of WMD disablement and non-proliferation within the NATO framework. He emphasized that this is instrumental for the improvement of the prevention mechanisms of CBRN threats. The Plenary was closed by Col. Henry Neumann, Commander of the Bundeswehr CBRN Defense Command. He finished strongly with a presentation outlining the role of the CBRN Defense Command, its priorities and its international and multinational cooperation initiatives.
After a short break, Col. Burg Valk, Commander of the Royal Dutch Armed Forces Engineer Training Center outlined the cutting-edge training and simulation facilities available in the Netherlands. Col Klaus Schiff, Commander of the German CBRN Defense, Safety and Environmental Protection School expanded on the current capabilities, aims and strategies of the CBRN units of the Bundeswehr. These insightful presentations gave an interesting overview of the different tools available in countering CBRN threats in two central European countries. Lt. Col. Andreas Baar, EOD Staff Officer at the C-IED Center of the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command continued the session by putting great emphasis on the need for a comprehensive European approach in training, capability-building and information sharing to effectively tackle the various aspects of the IED threat. Finally, Dr. Markus Hellmuth, Product Manager CBRN at Kärcher Futuretech, gave an overview of the latest technologies for CBRN Defense and decontamination available on the market.
The day continued with a presentation by Col. Friedrich Aflenzer, CBRND Officer at the GS Force Development Division in the Austrian Ministry of Defense and Sports. He underlined the Austrian capabilities and procedures in cases of CBRN disasters referring to the current refugee crisis of Austria. Lt. Col. Jean-Paul Monet, Division Chief at SDIS 13 – Bouches du Rhône Fire Brigade focused on how robotics can be used in CBRNe disaster scenarios.
Simultaneously, the session on Requirements in CBRN Detection, Reconnaissance and Analysis welcomed a presentation from Maj. Gen. Vitalii Kropyvnitskiy, Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute for Civil Protection. He gave important insights on the challenges of demining and developing an environmental monitoring system in the Donetsk region in Ukraine and the occupied territories. A compelling contribution by Bruker CEO Sebastian Meyer-Plath addressed the existing and future challenges faced by the industry in tackling biological threats and in developing efficient detection and identification technologies. It was Brig. Gen. Yoo Bong Heo, who closed the session by outlining the difficulties in facing the present and future challenge of CBRN terrorism.
The last sessions throughout the day maintained a focus on biological and chemical threats, addressing the existing challenges in detection, identification and decontamination. Maj. Dr. Hyun Joo Choi, from the Chemical Diversity Research Institute, provided an interesting analysis on the lessons learned from the problem faced by South Korea during the MERS outbreak in 2015. He specifically emphasized the lack of preparedness and diagnostic measures of the existing medical facilities.
On the last day of NCT Europe 2017, it was the interactive workshop on chemical warfare in Syria that drew the spotlight. The audience enjoyed the presence of His Excellency Dr. Nizar Al Hrakey, Ambassador of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces to Qatar and Mr. Abdul Elah Fahed, Former Secretary General of the Coalition. Moreover, Dr. Houssam Alnahhas, Coordinator for the CBRN Taskforce of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) was connected via skype to give insights on his experiences responding to chemical attacks in Syria. It gave the diverse audience of experts the chance to gain a valuable view on the support needed to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and leave with fresh ideas on how to contribute to this cause.
Covering the wide spectrum of CBRNe, the seventh edition of NCT Europe once again offered the community the opportunity to network and discuss recent developments, showcase latest solutions and share best practices and lessons learned. Before the European show returns to the Netherlands in July 2018, check out the event’s photos on www.facebook.com/ibconsultancy and event videos on Vimeo or sign up for the NCT/CBNW newsletter here.