NCT CBRNe Asia Event Series 2012-2014
During the last three years, NCT CBRNe Asia has become the largest and leading forum in the field of CBRN defense in Asia. It has welcomed CBRN Defense Commanders from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, India and South Korea; Ministers and Chief of Staff Generals from all over Southeast Asia have opened the conference in the past years; and it has given stage to leading regional experts and civil first responders from more than 30 countries from the Caucasus to East Asia and the Pacific. We have seen the latest laboratories and approaches in biological defense in the Philippines and Indonesia, have received first hand insights in CBRN response capabilities of regional powers such as India and South Korea, and saw state of the art detection and monitoring systems in place in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Australia.
NCT CBRNe Asia 2014
After successful regional forums in Thailand (2012) and Malaysia (2013), NCT CBRNe Asia 2014 came in its third year to the magnificent Koh Pich (Diamond Island) City Hall in Phnom Penh/ Cambodia. Having taken place from October 14-16 in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) as well as the Cambodian Ministry of Defense and National Defense Authority of Chemical Weapons, NCT CBRNe Asia 2014 welcomed more than 250 visitors from more than 30 countries. Starting with a live exercise at Bavet Check Point (Cambodian-Vietnamese Border) and the glamourous NCT CBRNe Awards Gala Dinner, it hosted both the two-day conference as well as the UNSCR 1540 regional workshops.
But before meeting-up for the conference, the delegates of this year’s event were cordially invited to join a live CBRN exercise of Cambodian first responders and counter-terrorism units at Bavet Check Point close to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. After leaving Phnom Penh and crossing the Mekong River smoothly thanks to a specifically arranged police escort, the 150 participants reached the exercise site where an official delegation consisting of Cambodian and Vietnamese Ministries (MoI, MoFA, MoD), fire fighter and national police units and representatives from the Army, Navy, Airforce and Special Chemical Units already awaited the official opening ceremony and demonstration. Sponsored by Scott Safety, the live exercise demonstrated Cambodian CBRN response capabilities during a terrorist Chemical attack scenario based on the release of poisoning gas along the border check point. Following existing SOPs, the incident zone had been classified, hazardous agents identified and victims evacuated. Personnel periodically underwent decontamination procedures while the incident zone was prepared for recovery. While giving an impressive insight in existing CBRN response capabilities in Cambodia, the attending delegations received as well an impression of in which fields’ national counter-terrorism units and fire brigades still require state of the art equipment.
NCT CBRNe Awards Gala Dinner
After such an eventful day ‘in the field’, the NCT CBRNe Awards Gala Dinner represented the perfect contrast during the opening program on October 14. And the Koh Pich City Hall showed off his outstandingly beautiful site while official government delegations arrived in limousines with police escort before strolling down the red carpet. In front of 150 invited attendees, H.E. General Em Sam An, Secretary of State at the Cambodian Ministry of Interior opened the festive gala together with fireworks, dancers and the two hosts of the evening: Ilja Bonsen (Managing Director, IB Consultancy) and Elsa Schrier (Consultant, IB Consultancy). And while the delegations enjoyed a 6 course menu of exquisite Cambodian cuisine and while casting the final votes for the NCT CBRNe Community Award, this year’s winners had been announced in the following categories:
The NCT CBRNe Product Award 2014 for the best CBRN solution on the market goes to Camtech’s ‘Camthrex’ biodetection handheld device, being truly innovative, versatile and end-user friendly, integrating a large number of application areas. Further nominees were Bluecher’s Saratoga Protective Suits, as well as Irdam’s Military meteorological sensor MAWS6056HCGPS.
Handed out by Prof Dr Aung Kyaw Myat, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology of Myanmar, the NCT CBRNe Innovation Award 2014 for last year’s most innovative product goes to NBC-Sys’ ‘BioChemGel’, presenting an outstanding and cost-efficient alternative to the predominant approaches of using liquid-based decontamination techniques for biological and chemical decontamination of infrastructures. Further nominees were CEA’s ‘Biodosi’ air sampler and 908 Devices’ M908 handheld device utilizing high-pressure mass spectrometry for time-critical missions.
For the NCT CBRNe Community Award 2014, the online voting and the live voting during the Gala Dinner knew a very clear winner with over 50% of the total votes: the German Army’s Joint CBRN Defense Command was awarded for being an example of successful and efficient transformation of CBRN defense organization responding to changes in this century’s CBRN threat environment and providing an integrated comprehensive response approach from prevention and training to efficient recovery. Other nominees were again 908 Devices’ M908 handheld device and Prof Dr Lawrence Roberge from Atlantic International University, USA.
And finally, the NCT CBRNe Capability Award for the country or organization that improved its capabilities or having had an impact on the capabilities of another country or organization, goes to the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for the worldwide known and numerous capability building programs. Other nominees were the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA), the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), and Interpol.
Together with the regional workshop organized by UNODA, this year’s NCT CBRNe Asia conference started on October 15 with an official Opening Ceremony led by H.E. General Em Sam An, Secretary of State at the Cambodian Ministry of Interior. The Opening was followed by presentations of Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Coordinator of the Threat Reduction Programs at the US Department of State, and Lt Gen Chalermsuk Yugala from the Royal Thai Army’s Chemical Department. Both presented on highly recognizable capability building programs of both the US and Thai governments worldwide and in the ASEAN, giving first-hand insights in regional training activities concentrating on the whole spectrum of CBRN defense from prevention programs, detection approaches and the decontamination of personnel and equipment.
The Opening Ceremony was concluded afterwards by presentations from two of the leading CBRN Defense Commands all over Asia: Colonel Byung-Sub Kim, Commander of the ROK Army’s CBR Defense Research Institute, and Brig Gen Zahir Kazmi, Director at Arms Control & Disarmament Affairs (ACDA) Branch at the Pakistani National Command Authority (Strategic Plans Division). Both gave a detailed and impressive overview of perceptions of current CBRN threats in Asia and how CBRN Defense Commands can efficiently prepare for responding to those.
Presentations in the afternoon continued with a very current topic: CBRN Response’s SOPs against Chemical Warfare Agents in Turkey, presented by Sinem Yigiter Atagan and Ulviye Ersoy from Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency/ Prime Ministry of Turkey (AFAD). And while Dr. Ina Agustina Isturini (Head of Health Crisis Recovery at the Indonesia Center for Health Crisis/ Ministry of Health) gave insights in how first responders and agencies in Indonesia deal with mass casualty biological incident – another highly relevant topic against the background of the current Ebola outbreak worldwide – representatives from Germany and France gave an overview of potential terrorist threats to potable water systems (Lt Col Dr Martin Weber, Chief of CB Warfare Agents Analytics, Central Institute of the German Army’s Medical Service), state of the art C4ISR systems (Lt Col ret Wolfgang Widders, TMS) and biodetection and analysis systems (Laurent Olmedo, Program Director Global Security at the French CEA; and Dr Claudia Gaertner from Microfluidic ChipShop).
The first day of the conference ended afterwards with a presentation of Prof Dr Aung Kyaw Myat, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Science and Technology – highlighting again how countries like Myanmar can learn from all the international approaches of CBRN defense presented throughout the day, and in which fields the country wishes to intensify its CBRN capability building activities together with international partners.
The second day of the conference was the day of leading experts in CBRN protection, training and emergency management. Starting with an overview of the Royal Thai Army’s expertise in the medical response field by Col Piyapan Cheeranont, and emergency management communication systems available in Cambodia by Dr Ly Sovann (Director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, Ministry of Health), the conference started a highly interesting discussion on CBRN threats to high visibility events. Col Dr Ram Athavale, who assisted the Indian Government in securing the Commonwealth Games in 2010, gave a perfect introduction in CBRN terrorist threats, respective safety measures taken during high-visibility events, as well as the societal response that should not be neglected when facing such threats. Dr Frank Walter from the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine shared afterwards his extensive expertise in training CBRN first responders for such cases and how to protect the public and personnel while reviewing preparedness and response for victims of CBRNE events.
Last but not least, Gordan Pesic gave an overview of state of the art robotic solutions of Croatian company DOK-ING for CBRN response which was concluded by respective needs in CBRN response and recovery by Lt Gen Ke Da from the Cambodian National Defense Authority of Chemical Weapons.
The very highlight of the day and at the same time the closing of the whole event was the speech of H.E. General Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense. He expressed his gratefulness for such large delegations from all over the world coming to Phnom Penh in order to discuss such important issues related to WMD and CBRN, and invited international experts and industry stakeholders to share their expertise with Cambodian Special Forces in order to prepare his country for current and future challenges. He praised the efforts of regional and international partners to cooperate with the Cambodian government in this field, and announced to continue working together with important stakeholders such as the EU, the USA and ASEAN for enhanced safety and security in Cambodia and the whole Southeast Asia.
NCT CBRNe Event Series in 2014 and 2015
With such a Closing Remark, the NCT CBRNe events will continue in 2014 to building an international CBRN community and to enhance the exchange of best practices, country specific challenges and lessons learned in the field of CBRN defense. And before going in 2015 to Brussels (NCT CBRNe Europe 2015, 12-13 February) and Washington (NCT CBRNe USA 2015, 29 April – 1 May), the event series will stop in Abu Dhabi for the first edition of NCT CBRNe Middle East, taking place from 9-11 December at the Hilton Abu Dhabi. The next NCT CBRNe Asia event will take place 10-12 November 2015 in Bangkok/ Thailand – back where it all started in 2012!