The Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Centre of Excellence (JCBRN Defence COE) conducted a discovery experiment to inform implementation of civil-military comprehensive CBRN capabilities.

Since 2009, Strategic Level Policy has emphasized NATO’s comprehensive approach for preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and defending against CBRN threats. The aim of the discovery experiment is to inform the implementation of CBRN comprehensive civil-military capabilities by providing the prerequisites for further concept development, propose improvement of existing ones, and support mutual awareness of existing military and non-military capabilities. The experiment includes workshops with invited military and non-military stakeholders to inform and support the experiment.

The first workshop was organized on 15 September 2020 for the military stakeholders discussing existing capabilities and gaps using DOTMLPFI (doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership development, personnel, facility, interoperability) analysis. The participants included representatives from HQ Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT), the Civil Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence (CIMIC COE), NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine (MILMED COE), Multinational Medical Coordination Centre / European Medical Command (MMCC/EMC) and the JCBRN Defence COE. Even though the workshop participants from different organisations did not agree on every topic at the beginning; at the conclusion, the representatives achieved consensus and a common understanding of several proposals to eliminate the identified gaps.

One of the topics was the military response timeline in case of a CBRN event, and possible ways to shorten the response time. Participants became aware of the JCBRN Defence COE CBRN Reachback which includes subject matter experts from the centre, and a secondary and virtual network of several military and civilian organizations. The participants agreed that this CBRN Reachback capability could, with the appropriate approval, serve in an advisory role for short notice requirements. Another important topic was the analysis of the doctrinal publications and interoperability, which identified contradictions in several NATO doctrine publications. These contradictions included Civil Military Interaction (CMI) implementation and responsibilities, which will require synchronization and revision of the publications to provide a more comprehensive and synchronized approach. The CIMIC COE organizes CMI courses to help with understanding the expected activity at organisations, and this was identified as one method to improve the common understand and develop a comprehensive approach. As the outcome of the first workshop, a dozen of proposals was carried to the second event.

Between 9-11 February 2021, the JCBRN Defence COE organized the second workshop chaired by HQ SACT CBRN Subject Matter Expert, Lieutenant Colonel Stephan SCHNEIDER. This workshop was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The participants included representatives of the NATO International Staff, International Military Staff and CBRN Medical Working Group; Framework Nation CBRN Cluster Support Cell, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), J5 and J9; CIMIC COE; MILMED COE; MMCC/EMC; JCBRN Defence COE; United States Department of Defense Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense; European Commission Directorate General European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; European Union Horizon 2020 European Network of CBRN Training Centers; and the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic - altogether 31 stakeholders from 16 organizations.

After the opening remark by Brigadier General Didier POLOME, HQ SACT Assistant Chief of Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy, the audience was informed about the background of the experiment and the outcomes of the previous workshop. Then the briefers introduced identified gaps, issues, recent achievements and short-term plans connected to CBRN related CMI from their area of expertise, including political level efforts presented by the acting director of the NATO Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre. Representatives from civilian organizations also had the opportunity to introduce their activity, experiences, problems and possible ways-ahead related to CMI. The briefings were followed by open discussion sessions in which participants shared their perspectives on the topics. The workshop also contained a NATO-only session to allow for NATO unclassified discussions.

Overall, participants agreed that effective information sharing is essential to a successful CMI, but knowledge management is an identified gap. For example, NATO unclassified documents/discussions/information are restricted from sharing with civilian counterparts without additional releasability determination which can slow down and hinder this critical information sharing. The proposals from the first workshop were revised by the broader audience, and after finalization these proposals will be an essential part of the Final Experiment Report.

According to the vision of NATO’s Comprehensive, Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of WMD and Defending against CBRN Threats is: “The Alliance - its populations, territory, and forces - will be secure from CBRN threats, including WMD; and its members will not be coerced by those posing such threats.” Interoperability of civil and military capabilities on the field of CBRN CMI is a milestone to achieve this vision and the experiment was a small step in this direction.

The outcome of the experiment is an input for the Annual JCBRN Defence COE Conference, in where CBRN CMI will be further analysed.

Proposals of the experiment provide the basis of the report that will be submitted to the NATO HQ, International Military Staff by HQ SACT. During the implementation of the proposals, the JCBRN Defence COE is ready for its supporting mission.

Author: Lieutenant Colonel Attila CSÓKA, Chief/Concept Development and Experimentation Section, JCBRN Defence COE, HUN-A