As Ukraine continues to navigate through complex geopolitical challenges, the importance of ensuring the constant readiness of its armed forces cannot be understated. In response, and at the request of SHAPE’s Partnership Directorate, the JCBRN Defence COE conducted the Training for the First Responders to CBRN Incidents course for a group of 16 Ukrainian CBRN first responders. This training, which occurred from 15 – 19 April 2024, was sponsored by SHAPE, and completed in cooperation with the Czech Population Protection Institute and the Training Centre of the Czech Fire Rescue Service in Brno.

COL Michael Firmin, the Education, Training and Evaluation Department (ETED) Director commented that the original request for this training came from SHAPE in October 2023, and that in his eyes, successful completion of this training immediately became ETED’s highest priority. The result of the seven months of planning was a week-long training program that provided a holistic approach to CBRN preparedness. The course was split between theoretical lectures at the JCBRN Defence COE, and practical, hands-on training at the premises of the Training Centre.

Training a foreign audience such as the Ukrainians was not without its difficulties. Students came from throughout Ukraine, with only a few having worked together prior to this training. To help facilitate the training, we were privileged to have two Ukrainian interpreters, whose help made all the difference in training effectiveness, allowing the instructors to provide clear instructions on complex scenarios. The instructors did not hold back either, forcing the trainees to respond to realistic scenarios that required the trainees to wear full personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) gear. The trainees then had to work as a team in this notionally toxic environment, mandating excellent cooperation.

During the closing ceremony, COL Firmin expressed his appreciation to the SHAPE Partnership Directorate team for their support to the capability development process, and a desire to continue this mutually beneficial cooperation in the future. Additionally, he thanked the team from the Fire Rescue Service, whose support of this course over the years has made it one of the JBCRN Defence COE’s most sought-after and important courses. Finally, he emphasized his gratitude to the trainees for their enthusiastic work throughout the week. Special recognition was provided to the interpreters, who took the time during all training breaks to further clarify outstanding issues brought forth by the trainees.

CBRN training is essential for Ukrainian forces to effectively counter the threat of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents. By enhancing their preparedness, protecting personnel, and enabling an effective response, CBRN training plays a crucial role in strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities. With continued international assistance and support, Ukrainian forces can further enhance their CBRN capabilities, ensuring the safety and security of the country and its people.

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Author: Education, Training and Evaluation Department
Photos: JCBRN Defence COE Archive