The JCBRN Defence COE held its latest Steering Committee meeting in Vyskov, Czech Republic from 24-25 Apr 2013.  Overall we believe it was one of the most productive meetings we have ever had and the Sponsoring Nations made a number of important decisions that will shape the future of the COE’s activities.

Here are just a few highlights from the meeting:

     The SC unanimously welcomed and fully supported France’s intent to join the JCBRN Defence COE.  The proposed timeline for signing of the notes of joining will be to accomplish this at the MilRep level in Brussels sometime between 15 Jul and 1 Sep 2013.  The French intend to occupy an OF-5 position within the COE in the beginning of Sep 2013. 

     Austria also formally expressed interest in becoming a Contributing Participant (CP) of the JCBRN Defence COE.  The SC welcomed and fully supported this and invited Austria to again attend the next SC meeting in Sep 2013.   

     The SC approved the new Annex A to OPS MOU

The SC tasked the COE to restructure the organization IAW the proposal presented to the SN’s in November which creates a new Operations Support Department.  The restructured COE will consist of the following components:

a.    Directorate

b.    The Transformation Support Department

c.    The Operation Support Department, including an Operational Planning Support Team

d.    The Training, Exercise and Education Department

e.    The Support Department.

     Additionally, the SC tasked the COE to be prepared to undertake an assessment of the new structure within 2 years and further stated that an adjustment of the structure may be required if the filling rate of international positions does not meet the criteria to be set at 75% as a minimum.  This statement highlights the need for other nations to join the COE if they desire that all proposed functions be operational.  In this the SC also tasked the COE to continue the efforts to increase the joining of international personnel within the COE.  This is one area where we need everyone’s assistance.

     It is important to note that the SC clearly stated that the reorganization is not to be regarded as an approval of the foreseen Reach Back Coordination Element designated for support to NCS as many issues still remain unresolved.  In order to ensure these issues are resolved in a timely manner the SC tasked the COE to continue with the internal experimentation and with the development of SOPs, Technical Arrangements as appropriate and the CONOPS and to provide these documents in due time prior to the next JCBRN Defence COE Steering Committee meeting for approval, including a resource impact statement.  Additionally we were tasked to develop criteria for a possible IOC in coordination with NCS for approval at the Autumn JCBRN Defence COE Steering Committee meeting.  As most of you know each of these documents or agreements are critical to implementation of this capability and each is already in some stage of development.  We ask that every stakeholder work with us to accomplish these vital missions at the earliest possible moment.

     Also as previously planned we will attempt to contribute the Reach Back Coordination Element to appropriate NATO exercises within the framework of the experimentation mandate.

     The SC also noted the COE effort to be become a Department Head and reaching Quality Assurance Approval from ACT, this activity will be submitted as part of the POW 2014 for final approval in Sep 2013.

     The SC tasked the COE to continue with future exploration of cooperation with European Union and prepare the possible way ahead for the next SC mtg. SC directed that future cooperation have no impact on our ability to support NATO and SNs. 

 All of these issues are of vital importance to the COE and to NATO and we would like to personally thank everyone involved who helped make this meeting such a huge success.  With this success, however, comes much of the arduous work to make this bold step a reality.  We ask for everyone’s continued support and assistance in these important endeavors.

The next SC meeting will be held on 17 – 19 September 2013 in Vyškov, Czech Republic.

Author: COL Randy Lee Smith

Photos: Mr. Hana Jurcova

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