On 9 February 2024 the JCBRN Defence COE was honoured to host the Command Team from the 97th Chemical Battalion (US Army Reserves) out of Wackernheim, Germany. This meeting was in response to a chance meeting between the author of this article, Director of the Education, Training & Evaluation Director, COL Michael Firmin, and the unit’s Command Sergeant Major, CSM Dmitriy Yurganov, at a defence leader’s conference in Warsaw in November 2023. From this meeting, the two leaders decided to seek out further areas in which each organization could support the other.
Julie Anne Claire Hoogendoorn:
On the 1st of September 2023, my journey at the JCBRN Defence COE in Vyskov, Czech Republic commenced, marking the beginning of a transformative six-month internship. Delving into the intricacies of civil-military interaction during crisis operations, specifically in the context of Article 5, became the focal point of my research endeavours. Throughout this period, I meticulously compared and analysed the responses and cooperation mechanisms of various NATO nations, leveraging the organisation's extensive professional and international network.
A military aircraft, transporting chemical samples and suspected Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) and loaded ammunition, has been hit by an enemy rocket while taxiing down a runway. The crew and passengers are unable to exit the aircraft, which has now most likely become contaminated by the toxic cargo. The risk of additional enemy rocket attacks remains unabated. The rescue mission becomes hindered by another unexploded missile explosion near the aircraft.
Whether through industry, academia, or an international or non-governmental organization, the JCBRN Defence COE continues to seek out new partners that have common interests. These are entities who can help us with one of our core responsibilities, working with the Alliance in the prevention, protection, and recovery from CBRN incidents. It is within this desire that our Centre hosted Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s CBRN Requirements Branch.
The JCBRN Defence COE Runs NATO’s Activities Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Course for the First Time in Three Years
In the same manner, as in previous decades, the NATO Alliance presently confronts a world wherein the potential use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) materials or Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by both state and non-state actors remains a central and evolving threat to Alliance security. Recognizing this reality, NATO must be prepared to prevent potential adversaries from gaining access to WMD and their means of delivery, respond to the source of any WMD attack, and mitigate the effects of WMD use.
Traditional teaching methods continue to evolve to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. New and innovative pedagogies are creating a shift within the education landscape, reshaping how NATO trains its military and civilian workforce. This new landscape pays greater attention to student-centred learning, collaborative problem-solving and the integration of technology in the classroom. A teaching tool that is gaining prominence within the quickly changing technological landscape is Extended Reality (XR), an overarching term that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MX). All of these realities can be mixed to fully immerse the student into a new blended reality, combining the real and digital worlds to create new kinds of interactivity and perception.
In the wake of the tumultuous geopolitical events of the past two years, it has become increasingly evident that the global security environment is undergoing rapid transformations, necessitating a more nuanced approach both within and outside the transatlantic security community. This reality also holds for the CBRN defence domain, in which the JCBRN Defence COE plays a crucial role, providing recognized expertise and experience to NATO and its Parners. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the 2023 JCBRN Defence COE Annual Conference, held in Prague from October 2 to 4, 2023, focused on issues of paramount significance to the Alliance, encompassing the overarching theme of "CBRN Defence and Resilience in the light of the current security environment & future challenges."