Despite improvements being implemented in the civil and military biological defence, and consequence management after previous epidemics such as influenza A(H1N11), the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how the world and NATO were unprepared. The security and resilience of NATO depends substantially on NATO and its member states being prepared for future pandemics.
The Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence (JCBRND Defence COE) published a comprehensive report to address CBRN defence capabilities within the biological defence domain based on COVID-19 observations, lessons identified, and lessons learned. The JCBRN Defence COE provides CBRN expertise and experience to the benefit of the Alliance in prevention of and protection against, as well as recovery from CBRN incidents. In addition, the JCBRN Defence COE continues to provide operations support to NATO's current and future crisis efforts; especially by providing the core of the NATO CBRN Reachback Element, modelling and simulation, and strategic-level and operational-level planning.
To advertise the SARS-CoV-2 response report and to determine a way ahead NATO’s JCBRN Defence COE conducted a webinar on 24 June 2021, the first webinar at all. The Centre’s Director, Colonel David Martinek, was happy to welcome more than forty participants from various nations as well as from NATO Command Structure – military and civilian, as well as from industry and academics. Their participation demonstrated the high interest in developing pandemic coping mechanism, and on future prevention.
To benefit from external expertise the COE had invited distinguished guest speakers. Colonel Martinek welcomed General (ret.) Sverre Diesen from the Norwegian Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt (Armed Forces Research Institute). During the 2021 NATO Lessons Learned Conference General Diesen briefed convincingly on “The Military Impacts of COVID-19 on the Alliance: Challenges and Opportunities (SAS-169)”. General Diesen provided a perfect introduction to the webinar. He is shown in figure 1 alongside Colonel Grzegorz Adamczyk, who chaired the webinar.
COVID-19 has been and still is mainly a medical challenge. One of the five enabling components of CBRN defence is medical countermeasures and medical care. LtCol Thomas Rezentes represented CBRNMed Working Group’s Training and Lessons Team as the team proposed formalized medical lessons from COVID and is linked to Smart Defence Project 1.1045 on Biological Response.
At the end of the day, Colonel Martinek (figure 2) concluded, that the webinar achieved its aim to refine the report’s recommendations and to determine an appropriate way-ahead. A follow-on webinar or an enhance in-person workshop will be conducted later in 2021 to enable further discussions in a classified environment.
Here is a link to the webinar homepage: JCBRND COE’s Webinar on SARS-CoV-2 Response Report
Author/Screenshots: LTC Bernd ALLERT, DEU A