Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense organizations exist across the world. Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and partner nations, are investing time and resources to unite and execute collective CBRN training together.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration conducted its first Mobile Education Training Team training course in Korneuburg, Austria, Dec. 10 - 14, 2018. This effort was the result of coordination between NATO's Joint CBRN Center of Excellence located in the Czech Republic, the DOE/NNSA Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation and the Austrian CBRN Defence Centre.
At Korneuburg, Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 2d Cavalry Regiment, members of the Austrian CBRN Defence Centre, local Austrian fire brigade members and Red Cross employees came together under the expert instruction of DOE/NNSA and the Austrian CBRN Defence Centre.
The International Radiological and Nuclear Training for Emergency Response course is designed to combine NATO training disciplines - CBRN and Weapons of Mass Destruction Defense - with emergency response in order to teach and develop common practices across the Alliance with regard to radiological and nuclear threat response.
"We have a doctor, the Red Cross and military personnel here," explained Obstlt (Ltc.) Roman Laimer, Austrian Senior National Representative at the NATO J-CBRN COE. "This is the typical Austrian approach to obtain a comprehensive understanding of CBRN training."
DOE/NNSA's International Radiological and Nuclear Training for Emergency Response, or I-RAD course, contains a one-week training schedule that includes in-depth instruction on topics such as the fundamentals of nuclear and radiation science, the physiological effects of radiation, how radiological detectors function and operational training methods to use radiation detection equipment in the field. All participants studied classroom presentations, took part in interactive hands-on exercises and were given time to ask DOE/NNSA instructors for detailed information.
Additionally, the course covered several types of radiological incidents, command and control group makeup for incident response, how to brief concepts of operation to operational teams and how to work with outside agencies such as police and security forces, foreign governments and news agencies in the event of a CBRN event.
Following classroom instruction, the course moved to field environments. Mixed groups of participants from the various organizations and countries formed to make operational teams for the mobile - vehicle and pedestrian - search and sources recovery exercises.
"Having the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our Allies is a good experience," said Spc. William Channell, CBRN specialist, Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2CR. "The class selected some of our platoon leadership to work with leaders from the Austrian military as joint chiefs in the training exercises. We started to see how similar the Austrian CBRN training strategies and disciplines are to our own."
The field training continued with a step-by-step, complete incident walkthrough by DOE/NNSA instructors, who guided them through briefings and mission execution. The next day, the students tackled the capstone event: a full incident response involving a joint command post team, vehicular-based mobile and pedestrian search teams and a source recovery team.
The class successfully detected, identified and recovered four live radiation sources located in various buildings and fields within the Austrian base.
"DOE mobile training solutions are the future for NATO and the Alliance," said Andrae Brooks, foreign affairs specialist, DOE/NNSA. "Available resources such as time, funding and operational tempo are essential to conduct collective training. Mobile Education Training Teams from DOE and NNSA bring the training to host nations and the training consumers - which allows for entire teams to be trained, reduces travel burdens and often includes local interagency governmental emergency response partners that would otherwise not be able to attend training."
With continued training exercises such as these, the impact on CBRN readiness across NATO will be great for the minimal time and resources spent in training. In time, more free courses will be available and geared for unique audiences to bring more organizations together.
Currently, DOE/NNSA and the Czech Joint CBRN Center of Excellence offer the I-RAD basic and advanced Courses, as well as the International Medical Management of Radiation Injuries, or I-MED course, which is offered at the NATO COE for Military Medicine. I-MED is focused on medical management and treatment of radiation casualties for doctors, nurses, and emergency health responders.
More information on DOE/NNSA courses is available on NATO's J-CBRN COE and the NATO COE for Military Medicine websites.
NATO J-CBRN COE: https://www.jcbrncoe.cz
NATO COE for Military Medicine: https://www.coemed.org