COVID-19 has impacted all areas of life around the world and the military is not an exception. Many military training, exercises and events have been postponed or cancelled forcing the military leadership to find other ways to organize events, meetings and courses which are necessary for smooth operation of all units. The JCBRN Defence COE has managed this challenging period successfully and majority of tasks have been fulfilled or postponed. The Analysis of the Programme of Work 2020 found out that 97 projects from 155 were completed without any limitations such a developing of Doctrines, Concepts, Standards or Strategies.
36 projects from 155 were slightly impacted mainly due to the use of Video Teleconferencing (VTC) software, which reduce the effectiveness or efficiency of the event or project. The increased use and reliance on VTCs as a way of communicating caused by COVID-19 force all organizations, including the centre, to adapt their processes and events to this more modern technology. One example for the centre was the annual Steering Committee event which took place from 13 – 14 October 2020 in Vyškov without any discrepancies but required the host to adapt how they conducted the meeting to overcome the reduced discussion and face-to-face interactions. The Centre ‘s personnel also participated in many virtual events such as Non-Conventional Threat (NCT) Virtual CBRNe Europe Conference 2020 from 22 – 23 September 2020, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) medical C3 table-top experimentation (TTX) from 21 - 25 September 2020, General Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces workshop on “Response of CBRN defence units to COVID-19” on 3 September 2020 and many others.
10 projects from 155 could be partially done or delayed with virtual conferences or meetings which will be held in 2021. One example is the JCBRN Defence COE Annual Conference, originally scheduled for 6 – 7 October 2020, which will now be organized from 4 – 6 October 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The upcoming conference will tentatively be titled "Civil-Military cooperation to address the consequences of a large scale CBRN incidents" to continue the work done in the first conference in September 2019 with additional focus on COVID-19 lessons learned. Additionally, the JCBRN Defence COE participation in the Future Forces Forum in Prague scheduled for 21 - 22 October 2020 was cancelled with the new forum scheduled for 26 – 30 April 2021, and similarly the CBRNe Summit Europe in Brno will now occur from 07 – 29 April 2021.
12 projects from 155 could not be completed. For example, workshops, courses were cancelled and the expected outcome could not be accomplished remotely or in other way. Although all courses organized by the centre in 2020 were cancelled, the centre learned from this and most courses in 2021 will have new online educational capabilities, so the centre will not have to cancel all its courses again.
VTCs and other virtual capabilities were used more in 2020 than in any previous year, and like other organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic forced unimaginable leaps in virtual capabilities and use. The centre is using this opportunity to build more resilient and advanced virtual and e-learning capabilities to provide recognised CBRN expertise and experience to the benefit of NATO and the Alliance.
Author: Major Eva Vitásková, Event Coordinator, JCBRN Defence COE, CZE – A