March 7, 2016
For the first time, both NCT CBRNe and eXplosive Europe joined to bring together the CBRNe and EOD communities. The fourth edition of the European NCT event series took place from February 23-25, 2016 at the historical Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, attracting over 300 delegates from Europe and the US, but also countries such as Myanmar, South Korea and Kuwait. After previous events in The Hague, Brussels and Leipzig, this year’s edition was by far the biggest with a live tri-national demonstration, a sold-out exhibition and more than 40 speakers from all over Europe – highlighted by the Opening Address of General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defense at the Royal Dutch Armed Forces.
Live multinational CBRNe exercise in Vught
The joint CBRNe and EOD event started on February 23 with a live demonstration of the Dutch, Belgian and Armed Forces at the National Training Center (NTC) in Vught – a multidisciplinary CBRN training center hosting targeted and state of the art training to both civil and military first responders not only from the Netherlands, but all over the world. After a short welcome remark and introduction in the facilities, the participants witnessed an interactive response scenario to a terrorist attack including explosives and CBRNe material in an urban environment. While the Dutch Police, Fire fighters and Armed Forces demonstrated standard operational procedures for such an incident, the delegates learned a lot about CBRNe reconnaissance on an incident site, evacuation and decontamination of victims, as well as means of recovery. After an hour, the delegates received an outstanding opportunity to visit CBRNe response capabilities of the Dutch Fire Fighters and Armed Forces from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. From PPE to state of the art CBRNe analysis, reconnaissance, decontamination and recovery equipment and vehicles, participants could directly talk to the first responders that shared their best practices and lessons learned from the usage and training with certain equipment. Respective highlights were the sophisticated CBRNe detection equipment from Bruker, Kaercher Futuretech’s TEP90 decontamination truck, DOK-ING’s MVF-5 firefighting and recovery robot, as well as the Fox reconnaissance vehicle equipped with state of the art TMS equipment.
To round up the perfect start of the NCT CBRNe & eXplosive event, delegates could later meet at the traditional NCT Welcome Party taking place at the De Heeren van Amstel Bar in the city center of Amsterdam. With live music of the Bruker Band, this year’s Opening Party provided again a great networking opportunity.
Opening by Dutch Chief of Defense
On February 23, the doors of the Beurs van Berlage finally opened to welcome the around 300 international guests for the two-day conference and exhibition, starting with an absolute highlight. No one less than General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defense of the Royal Dutch Armed Forces, opened the conference, making it clear with his first words that counterterrorism, non-proliferation and countering CBRNe related threats are currently high on the agenda of leading military decision-makers: ‘As we are gathered here today, the threat level in the Netherlands is ‘substantial´. This means there is a real chance of an attack in this country.’ He honored the outstanding work of first responders and military forces all over the world that are doing their best to prevent any future attack or to better prepare for the worst, while saying: ‘If you ask me, what will be of crucial importance – now and in the future – is that what WE – civil and military responders- are able to act fast, and decisively, whenever an attack occurs. After all, it is us – policemen and women, fire fighters, first-aid workers, decision makers, CBRN- and EOD personnel – who are in charge with the well-being of residents and property. It is us who have to ensure others people safety. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to ask you here today: Are we ready?’. His outstanding speech made it very clear that the Dutch military is taking the increasing CBRNe and terrorist threat very seriously, while also having the necessary expertise and strategic outlook to protect the public and their personnel.
Eleven Commanders at EOD and CBRNe Conferences
The speech of General Middendorp was followed by the speeches of leading experts in international CBRNe response and EOD/C-IED, including respective CBRNe and EOD Commanders from eleven countries such as Brig. Gen. William King (Commander, U.S. Army 20th CBRNE Command). The CBRNe and EOD conferences, chaired by Colonel B.W. Valk (Commander, Dutch Armed Forces Engineer Center), Colonel Henry Neumann (Commander, Bundeswehr CBRN Defense Command), Lt. Col. Wolfgang Reich (Head of Capability Section, Bundeswehr CBRN Defense Command), and Prof. Zvonko Orehovac (University of Zagreb) thereby made it very clear that the exchange of the EOD and CBRNe communities is of outmost importance to counter emerging threats to European public safety. Especially civil-military cooperation in such fields were the recurrent theme of discussion, while sessions on C-IED capability building in conflict regions such as Mali, concepts of Critical Infrastructure Protection, lessons learned from the 2015 Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak as well as lessons learned from past CBRNe missions in Syria, Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina received much attention.
That said, the participants had a lot to discuss during the two-day conferences at the Beurs van Berlage while exchanging expertise with the participating 34 industry sponsors. With it’s diverse program, numerous networking opportunities, and it’s outstanding civil-military and multinational live demonstration, NCT CBRNe and eXplosive Europe 2016 was an outstanding kick-off of the NCT Event Series in 2016. The European event will return to Germany in June 2017.