26 Nov 03. On Monday, December 1, another significant step in NATO’s military transformation takes place when the Alliance’s new Multinational Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence Battalion achieves its Initial Operational Capability. The event will be marked by Defence Ministers at NATO during their ministerial meeting in Brussels on December 1, and then two days later, on Wednesday, December 3, there will be a formal launch ceremony in the Czech Republic, where the new unit is based.
At NATO headquarters at 1300 on December 1 there will be a brief public event to mark this occasion with remarks by Secretary General Lord Robertson, and as the first lead nation, the Czech Defence Minister. All journalists accredited to the ministerial are welcome to attend.
At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 December, the Czech Ministry Of
Defence will host the formal launch ceremony of the CBRN Defence Battalion in Liberec, Czech Republic at Dr. Edvard Benes Square. The event will be attended by Minister of Defence The Czech Republic Miroslav Kostelka, Deputy Chief of Staff SHAPE Vice Admiral Roberto Cesaretti, Chief of General Staff Army the Czech Republic general Pavel Stefka, Major of City Liberec Jiøí Kittner and the others VIP guests. Participating nation will be represented.
This multinational Battalion has been established by the direction of the
North Atlantic Council and represents another advance in capabilities resulting from the Prague Capabilities Commitments agreed by NATO heads of state and government at the Prague summit in 2002. The CBRN battalion is a new capability designed to respond and defend against the use of weapons of mass destruction both inside and beyond NATO’s area of responsibility. As such it is a significant part of NATO’s transformation to respond to the new security challenges of the 21st century.
The Czech Republic has been assigned to lead this Battalion. Major Vratislav Osvald has been appointed as Battalion Commander and the core of this unit consists of more than 160 NBC specialists from the 31st CBRN Defence in Liberec.
Presently, there are thirteen nations participating in the formation of the Battalion: Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and USA.
Beginning 1 Dec 2003, the multinational CBRN Defence Battalion will be headquartered in Liberec, in the northern part of the Czech Republic. Each participating nation has been offered positions within the Battalion multinational Staff supporting the CBRN capability. The battalion will conduct periodic training throughout the year and will reach Final Operational Capability for NATO operations in Jul 2004.