Czechs to head multi-national NBC battalion

General Lupuljev, head of Czech anti chemical unit, photo:

Amidst growing fear of terrorist attacks and weapons of mass destruction, NATO is setting up a 500 strong multinational battalion specialized in nuclear, biological and chemical detection. The Czech Republic, a respected international authority in this field, has been given a lead role in setting up the unit, ensuring its action capability and being in command in the first year of its existence.

This new multinational battalion is being set up in reaction to the new security situation in the world and the heightened danger of the use of weapons of mass destruction. It is to serve not only in times of war but also for eliminating weapons of mass destruction in peacetime and in cases of dangerous accidents, such as factory leaks endangering the population, anywhere in the world. The Czech Republic, whose anti chemical unit played a key role in protecting allied forces in the Gulf War, is to mastermind the setting up and training of this multi-national unit and will remain in command through the first 12 months of its existence. Ten NATO member states have offered trained soldiers and technology for the international NBC battalion and their officials have been holding a planning session in the Czech mountain resort of Spindleruv Mlyn. Miroslav Sindelar of the Defense Ministry's press department reports:

"At present ten NATO members are involved in setting up NATO's new NBC battalion, most prominently involved are : Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United States, but there is also Portugal, Turkey, Belgium, Hungary and Romania. Officially the battalion will be in existence as of December 1st of this year, but the first few months will involve a training period. Army officers from the countries involved will receive training at the Liberec army base, the home base of the Czech NBC unit. Then in the spring of next year there will be further compatibility training in Italy. As of July 1st of 2004 NATO's NBC battalion should be fully action-capable."