Troops of the Brazilian Army’s 1st Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Battalion (1st Btl DQBRN) participated as instructors in the Basic Course on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents for Portuguese-speaking Countries in Angola, June 27-July 1. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) organized the course with the coordination of the National Authority for Arms Control and Disarmament of theAngolan government’s Ministry of National Defense and Homeland Veterans.
In addition to Brazil and Angola, military personnel, civilian firemen, customs officers, health professionals, and dangerous goods specialists from Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Portugal also participated. It was the first such course hosted by a Portuguese-speaking African country. Five instructors taught the course, three Brazilians from the 1st Btl DQBRN and two Angolans.
The Brazilian Army Social Communication Center (CCOMSEx) told Diálogo in a statement that the 1st Btl DQBRN, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2023, has established an excellent relationship with the OPCW, becoming a benchmark for other institutions that work in this sector. “All this is due to the Army’s established and mature Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense System, conceived in 1989, whose structure makes it possible to have up-to-date doctrine, state-of-the-art equipment, and highly specialized manpower,” CCOMSEx said.
According to the statement, troops of the 1st Btl DQBRN operated in one of the largest radiological accident worldwide, whenCesium 137, a radioactive isotope that occurs as a nuclear fission of other radioactive materials such as uranium andplutonium, was removed from its protective housing in the city of Goiânia, in the Brazilian state of Goiás, in 1987. The CCOMSEx also mentioned the participation of the 1st Btl DQBRN in national and international fairs, courses, exercises, and workshops, and the participation in the review and elaboration of international lawsrelated to CBRN disarmament and non-proliferation conventions and treaties.
The battalion is also a member of the United Nations counterterrorism network of experts to combat CBRN threats and its members participate as advisors and chemical weapons inspectors in peacekeeping missions, in addition to promoting courses for the armed forces of partner nations such as Spain, the United States, and Portugal. In 2017, the OPCW designated Brazil as headquarters for the Regional Chemical Weapons Assistance and Protection Center for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC).
The training in Angola covered mostly theoretical instruction with topics such as Principles of Cutaneous and Respiratory Protection, Chemical Warfare Agents and their Toxicological Effects, Specialized Medical Treatment in Chemical Emergencies, and Chemical Incident Control System.
“However, there was also hands–on training, such as Personal Protective Equipment; Detection and Collection of Samples in Contaminated Areas; and Decontamination of Personnel, Equipment, Facilities, and Areas,” CCOMSEx said. “For the Brazilian Army, at the international level, the event represents a valuable opportunity to strengthen the image of the land force with the CPLP [Community of Portuguese Language Countries] and the OPCW, validating the quality of its manpowerspecialized in CBRN.”
A second phase, the Advanced Course on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidentsfor Portuguese-speaking Countries, is planned for 2023, to be held in Portugal, the Brazilian Army said. During the remainder of this year, the 1st Btl DQBRN will conduct training in assistance and protection against chemical weapons for members of the GRULAC group of countries, at the request of the Inter-American Defense Board and the OPCW.