Counter-terrorism hyper-conscientiousness in the 21st century is well deserved. Technological advancements imply major positive and negative employment, mutually.
The FEMA Catastrophic Incident Annex of 2008 encourages entities to, “conduct planning in collaboration with the Federal Government for catastrophic incidents as part of their steady-state preparedness activities”.
Worldwide government organizations strive constantly to keep up with beating – and at times being – the game among CBRNE threats. Brazil is up and coming.
CBRNE is the acronym for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Defense and Explosives. In Portuguese, it is Defensa Química, Biológica, Radiológica e Nuclear, or DQBRN. Columbia University professor, Brigitte Nacos notes that CBRNE attacks are typically executed by grouped and single terrorists, as well as governments, with the objective of “committing lethal and catastrophic political violence“.
Such events intrinsically involve utmost terror inducing results and media coverage, which is psychologically crucial for terrorists and governments propagating agendas through these means.
Extreme consequences have already been witnessed. The densely populated Tokyo subway fell victim to a sarin (aka nerve gas) attack by the Japanese doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo. Its catastrophic results and ease of distribution highlighted CBRNE response and preparedness’ importance to public and private entities.
With increased CBRNE attack threat, more organizations have sprung to counter them. World super powers have many resources for CBRNE preparedness and response as said governments have the strongest political, economic and security potentials.
They also embody the greatest victims to CBRNE threats. Therefore, perhaps some of the most innovative cases are second and third world countries who also face the threats, but with less resources to contradict them.
Brazil is a key case study. With its quagmire of socio-economic and political turmoil, as well as international investment magnitude, Brazil’s defense-oriented governmental organizations are among Latin America’s most advanced CBRNE prepared. Two such organizations are the National Public Security Force and the Special Operations Command.
National Public Security Force
The National Public Security Force pertains to law enforcement and gendarmeries operations. It is headquartered in the nation’s capitol, led by top ranking police and military officials, and frequently joint cooperates with top public safety forces nationwide under the Ministry of Justice.
Its personnel are highly trained to counter traditional sources of violence such as civil riots, gang warfare and attempts on public official’s lives.
They have more recently been trained to counteract CBRNE attacks amid such environments nationwide, whether in urban or rural settings.
Brazilian Special Operations Command
The Brazilian Special Operations Command is part of the Brazilian Army Command. Its role pertains to direct action, airborne assault, personnel recovery and special reconnaissance. It is headquartered in Goias and commanded by a Brigadier General.
It coordinates major decontamination and defense in CBRNE events among multiple official entities. This includes observing the Brazilian Army’s 1st CBRNE battalion based in Rio de Janeiro.
They are also responsible for general CBRNE response and preparedness-related equipment manufacturing through their own CBRNE Defense Company.
In Sick and in Health
The legislation that tasks the National Public Security Force and the Brazilian Special Operations Command with CBRNE-related themes bares recent origins.
The government of President Luiz Ignacio “Lula” da Silva oversaw their foundation in 2004 and 2002, respectively. Such landmark events were in time of the then pending economic boom. This involved major changes among the traditionally segregated socio-economic spectrum which is Brazil and its wave of international investment.
However, Lula left office before Brazil’s economic growth grandeur slumped into multi-dimensional crisis, consequentially festering increased destabilization and overall tension ripe for CBRNE threats.
Amid renewed crisis, the National Public Security Force and the Brazilian Special Operations Command’s cooperation among themselves and others has since been of great magnitude. Most fundamentally, both entities answer to the Ministry of Defense umbrella and the arrangement helps ensure collective agendas, as well as collaboration in the areas of training and equipment distribution.
Their largest unclassified collaborated to date regarded the 2016 Summer Olympics. Many participating countries expressed concern that the high media coverage and densely populated setting would attract terrorist activities, particularly CBRNE related. As Andrew Park and colleagues from Springer Link observe, “when a public event is held in an urban environment like Olympic games or soccer games, it is important to keep the public safe”. Therefore, years of preparation and cross-agency collaboration were executed. Foreign aid increased the National Public Security Force and the Brazilian Special Operations Command’s ability to counter this potentiality.
The United States government in particular donated CBRNE equipment to local, state and federal levels as observed by both entities, including to the Rio de Janeiro Fire and Police departments who were among those directly responsible for Rio Olympic security affairs.
Cooperation is Key
In conclusion, fortunately, the National Public Security Force and the Brazilian Special Operations Command’s efforts either deterred CBRNE threats or set a global example of the importance to be prepared to response to them.
These entities’ mission statement also reaffirms the importance of US-Latin American cooperation.
Keeping neighbors safe helps keep US and US allies safe.