Brazil & Paraguay Cooperate to Thwart Biological, Chemical, Nuclear Attacks

Brazil & Paraguay Cooperate to Thwart Biological, Chemical, Nuclear Attacks

By Dialogo
November 03, 2015

Brazilian and Paraguayan security forces will continue to build upon their history of working together to prevent unconventional attacks involving chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons after the two counties teamed to keep Pope Francis safe during his visit to Paraguay from July 10–12.

The Brazilian Army’s First Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (CBRN-D) Battalion coordinated with Paraguay’s National Commission on the Prevention and Response to Biological Emergencies (CONAPREB) to prevent potential terrorist attacks targeting the Pope or the massive crowds at his public events, including an outdoor Mass delivered to a million spectators during his last day in Paraguay.

“During such large assemblies of people, we never rule out the possibility of an attack with biological weapons,” said Colonel Jorge Mieres, spokesman for the Paraguayan Armed Forces. “There is always a latent possibility of risk here. We always hope that it does not happen because, if it did, it would be catastrophic.”

Intensive training and preparation

The CBRN-D Battalion and CONAPREB were well-prepared for the Pope's visit. The former had handled security for the large crowds that attended the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup, both of which took place in Brazil.

In September, the CBRN-D Battalion, which will provide security during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, conducted a trial run of its Nuclear Attack Emergency Contingency Plan that taught public institutions, security forces, and the general public how to respond to an attack or a nuclear accident that released potentially deadly radiation. And three months earlier, in June, the it launched Health Soldiers, an operation that simulated the evacuation of a victim of a biological attack; the course was organized by the Rio de Janeiro-based School of Specialized Instruction.

“The work of the CBRN-D can be seen in all realms of activity of the Brazilian Armed Forces during major international events,” according to a statement by Brazil's Armed Forces.

Preparing for the 2016 Olympics

The Brazilian Military will put its experience to use when it provides security for the Olympics from August 5–21.

“Brazil will host the Olympic Games in 2016, and there is a consensus among experts that no country is completely free from the risk of a terrorist attack,” Colonel Marcio Luiz do Nascimento Pereira Abreu wrote on the Brazilian Army blog, EBlog

In his article, A CBRN-D Threat in Brazil
, Col. Abreu explained that larger terrorist groups may not be interested in attacking Brazil, but "so-called ‘lone wolves’ could act freely without allegiance to any particular group or organization, which increases the risk of an attack independent of the country in question." He said it is "essential that Brazil be prepared to respond to such an incident," and that it is even more important that they remain aware of the common vulnerability among nations to terrorist attacks and that the country cooperates on non-proliferation work. "This will ensure public safety and the integrity of vital infrastructure in Brazil."

A beneficial experience

CONAPBREB members who worked with the DQBRN Battalion during the Pope's visit to Paraguay benefited from the experience, according to Col. Mieres.

“CONAPREB builds upon the lessons it has learned from training at both a national and international level (specifically with Brazil and Argentina). We have a very close partnership with Brazil that deals with the training of personnel for important events and certain special capabilities.”

The mission of CONAPREB, which comprises government and private-sector workers, is to take the necessary precautions to prevent and respond appropriately to emergencies resulting from biological, chemical, and nuclear incidents – accidental or intentional – that impact Paraguay's national security and environment.

“This specialized body renders experience and knowledge of immeasurable value to other institutions. For example, they are working very closely on the topic of natural disasters and are a vanguard on specialized teams.”

Joint training

Cooperation between Brazil and Paraguay extends beyond specialized teams such as the DQBRN Battalion and the CONAPREB.

For instance, from November 21–December 12, 2014, nine members of the Paraguayan Armed Forces trained with a unit of Brazilian counterparts at the Aeronautical Equipment Campus of Lagoa Santa (PAMA-LS) in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

The Paraguayan Military participated in a training session on how to maintain the hydraulic, electronic, and pneumatic systems of the Tucano T-27, a Brazilian-made airplane that the Paraguayan Air Force uses primarily to combat drug trafficking.

The training sessions allowed Paraguayan technicians to focus on learning how specific parts of the aircraft work, such as the landing gear and ejector seats.