Hungarian and Czech forces head for Athens

Olympic Games in Athens, photo: CTK

This week, the Czech and Hungarian armies sent special chemical and biological warfare units to Athens to take part in the massive security operations at the Olympic Games this summer. As part of NATO special forces, one hundred Czech soldiers will guard the city from August 1 to September 30, when the Paralympics end. Major General Emil Pupis explains what the Czech contingent will be doing to help optimize security:

Olympic Games in Athens,  photo: CTK
"The Czech part of the task force offers their chemical and radiological reconnaissance and laboratory capabilities. Afterwards they will offer their vehicle and personnel decontamination capabilities, and they will play their role of framework organisation, which means they will be in charge of the co-ordination of all assets and contributions from other nations as well."

Hungary's contribution to the security measures in Athens is a biological laboratory and nine servicemen. While a lab may sound like a basic part of anti-chemical warfare, this one is unique as it is mobile and can be moved right to the scene of attack. Sandor Laczko talked to the head of the unit, medical colonel Jozsef Furjes, to find out more:

"The laboratory has a capability for rapid diagnosis of micro-organisms and biologically derived toxins. Here, with rapid diagnosis, I mean between thirty minutes and six hours, depending on the number and kind of agent."

What is it going to be used for?

"Depending on the purpose; it's a multi-purpose unit and has a capability for micro-organisms and is even for environmental agents."

How did the idea come about to send this unit to the Athens Olympics?

Czech army sent special chemical and biological warfare units to Athens,  photo: CTK
"Security at different events has become more and more important and bio-safety is one of the key reasons why the laboratory was sent there."

I understand that the laboratory technology is something special developed by a Hungarians. What is this novelty?

"The laboratory, which was developed by the Hungarian Army, has very special and very sensitive instrumentation and methods."

In practice, what does that mean? How is it better than similar units used by other countries?

"The main character, which makes a difference, is the mobility. The housing has a character which usually used to build out in a stationary laboratory. It can regulate air pressure, which is very safe. Also, the methods we are using are regularly only used in stationary laboratories."

In the hypothetical situation of danger reported during the Olympic Games, what is this unit going to do, how is it going to respond to such a request?

"We are one part of a complex unit named the Deployable Analytical Bio-laboratory has a sampling team, a contamination team, and a laboratory team that is strengthened by the EOD. The sampling team collects samples and transports them to the laboratory, deployed close to the scene."

Once you have detected what sort of danger there is, is there anything you can do about it?

"The key role of the laboratory is to fix the problem. Of course, as an advisor, we take part in the further processes; however, we only support them indirectly because the complex counter-measure needs another unit."