Challenges lie ahead as Czechs assume leadership of multi-national battalion
The beginning of December saw the formal launching of NATO's new multi-national Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion in the town of Liberec. It is undeniably a moment of primary importance for the Czech Republic, assigned to lead the 500 member battalion which includes members from twelve other NATO countries including Canada, Great Britain, Turkey, Spain, and Italy. The core of the Czech team ranks some 160 NBC specialists, who have built a strong reputation in the field, in peace and wartime, in their ability to defend and respond to chemical accidents as well as the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
"This battalion came into existence to meet the very real threat of weapons of mass destruction. This threat was indicated in the past, and at present there is a continuing threat of use - or relatively cheap manufacture of - WMD by terrorist organisations. That is the new NBC battalion's reason for existing. To assure NATO will not be caught off guard, and able to react, if weapons of mass destructions are ever used."
"When the need for a new battalion was being weighed several countries were considered to lead in the first year. Of NATO members only a few have the capability of heading such a force: the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic though, was in a way rewarded: first, thanks to its readiness over the last thirteen years, in particular in both Gulf wars, and second, for its investments in new technology. This made the Czech Republic a reasonable choice."
Furthermore, the Czech Republic was still thinking of ways to innovate and improve.
Under the Czech Republic's first 12 months of leadership exercises and much training will take place, both in the Czech Republic and co-operating states. The Czechs are confident they will be able to both pass on their branch of expertise, and successfully preside over the readiness and preparation of Final Operational Capability of the new multi-national force by July 2004.