INTERVIEW:

Colonel Alexandre Vasconcelos

Commander, 1st CBRN Battalion, National Army, Brazil

This month, the NCT Magazine Editorial Team sat down with Colonel Alexandre Marcos Carvalho de Vasconcelos to learn more about the Brazilian Army’s 1st CBRN Battalion. In preparation for this year’s NCT South America 2019 event, which will be held from the 5-7 February in Rio de Janeiro, the NCT Magazine team sought to gain an insider's perspective about CBRNe training in the Brazilian Army.


As a graduate of the Field Artillery Course at the Brazilian Army Academy, Brazilian Army CBRN Course, Command and Control of Operations in CBRN Defense and Command and General Staff Course at the Brazilian Army Command and Staff College, he provides insight to the training of top-tier CBRN defense teams. He participated in the improvement of the CBRN doctrine of the Brazilian Army that occurred during the High Visibility Events that took place in Brazil between 2012 and 2016! 

Col. Vasconcelos was a member of the planning and coordination team of the Brazilian Army for CBRN Defense for RIO + 20, FIFA Confederations Cup, World Youth Journey and Olympic Games Rio 2016, and a member of the planning team for CBRN Defense for the World Cup. He was part of the Brazilian Military Cooperation in Paraguay in 2014, where he cooperated with Paraguay’s Ministry of Defense about CBRN subjects, and coordinated the Brazilian Army troops in CBRN Defense during the Pope’s visit to Paraguay.


We are excited that Col. Vasconcelos will be speaking during the Opening Plenary of NCT South America 2019. Learn more about the Brazilian Army’s CBRN training and what they do to prepare for events, such as the Rio Olympic Games, by reading below! 

"The great challenge of the CBRN defense [during the Rio Olympics] was to carry out its activities at various competition venues in different cities over a long period of time. The challenges have been overcome with an appropriate joint planning, constant training and acquisition of modern equipment."

Could you give us a short introduction of the main tasks of the Brazilian Army 1st CBRN Defense Battalion of which you are the commander?


The Brazilian Army 1st CBRN Defense Battalion had its origin in the year of 1953 with the creation of the Company School of Chemical Warfare. The main tasks of the Military Organization are to plan, coordinate and execute CBRN defense actions in support of the Brazilian Army, other Armed Forces and Civil Agencies. These actions are carried out through specialized reconnaissance, scanning, identification and delimitation of areas affected by CBRN agents, as well as the decontamination of personnel, equipment, vehicles and areas.


The Battalion was employed in several CBRN defense activities throughout its history as an example: Accident with Cesium 137 that occurred in 1987 (Goiânia-GO), High Visibility Events held in Brazil (2007-2016), World Youth Day 2013 and in the CBRN Security during the visit of Pope Francis to Paraguay (2015).

How does the Brazilian Army’s 1st CBRN Defense Battalion coordinate its efforts with the other civil and military responders in charge of CBRNe defense and response in Brazil?

The Brazilian Army 1st CBRN Defense Battalion has highly trained military personnel. Generally, the training takes place in International Organizations, other Armed Forces and Civil Agencies. In these activities, actions are carried out to update knowledge, to improve techniques and to create protocols for future joint activities with agencies that can be used in CBRN defense efforts. In this way, the Battalion seeks partnerships and integration, with civilians and military responsible, to coordinate the CBRN defense and response at events in Brazil.

Are there any specific countries that you strongly cooperate with in the field of international CBRNe cooperation?


Currently, the Brazilian Army 1st CBRN Defense Battalion has been carrying out international cooperation with some countries for the exchange of knowledge in the CBRN defense area, especially with the USA, Spain and Portugal. The Battalion also seeks cooperation with International Organizations, in particular with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with whom Battalion has participated in activities since 2009. As an example, the Brazilian Army 1st CBRN Defense Battalion has been supporting the Regional Exercise in Assistance and Protection for States Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (EXBRALC), with the participation of several countries and that has been taking place in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

"Noting the recent development of the CBRN Defense in the Brazilian Army, I believe that there will be no change of priority in the upcoming 5 years, but rather an improvement of the capabilities acquired in recent years."

In your opinion, what are the main specialties of the Brazilian Army CBRN defense?


During the High Visibility Events that took place in Brazil from 2007 to 2016 (Pan American Games-2007, Military World Games-2011, Confederations Cup-2013, 2014 World Cup and Olympic Games-2016) the Brazilian Army’s CBRN defense had the opportunity to have a great improvement in its structure, in particular:


  • the Army's CBRN Defense courses were modernized and new courses were created, mainly in the areas of command in control, maintenance and health management;
  • restructuring of the CBRN Defense Units;
  • modern CBRN Defense equipment was acquired for the preparation and employment of Military Organizations. Examples are: detectors, personal protective equipment, mobile laboratories, decontamination equipment and command and control programs; and
  • the doctrine of CBRN Defense was updated, new concepts were incorporated and new manuals were elaborated. The use of the CBRN Defense was grouped in principles and activities of security, decontamination and monitoring, being integrated by a system of command and control.


In summary, the main specialties in CBRN Defense of the Brazilian Army are the recognition and identification of possible CBRN threats, decontamination, command and control and protection.

Do you foresee a change in priorities within the Brazilian Army in the upcoming 5 years?


The actions of CBRN Defense have been fulfilling their support role to prevent, avoid or minimize the occurrence of claims involving CBRN agents and supporting the national and international activities of the Brazilian Army.


Noting the recent development of the CBRN Defense in the Brazilian Army, I believe that there will be no change of priority in the upcoming 5 years, but rather an improvement of the capabilities acquired in recent years.

As the Commander of the 1st CBRN Defense Battalion, what do you think are the main benefits of hosting NCT South America in Brazil next year?


As a Commander of the 1st CBRN Defense Battalion, I think the main benefits of hosting NCT South America in Brazil next year are: the possibility to exchange experiences with experts from other countries, to know new equipment technologies and to present some of the capabilities of the CBRN Defense in use in Brazil. An event of this nature is very important because it provides the improvement of the CBRN Defense capacity of the participating countries.