Since April 2013, the new established Bundeswehr CBRN Defence Command (BwCBRNDCmd) has taken over the lead function for CBRN Defense in the Bundeswehr. Responsibilities, forces and tasks were shifted from all services to this so-called “Capability Coordination Command” in the Joint Support Service (JSS). With this concentration of CBRN in one organization, the JSS is prepared to provide the highest output with the existing and limited resources. CBRN Defense out of one hand – one commander with an overarching authority, less interfaces with other organizations, a lean hierarchy – Germany is demonstrating a modern and efficient organization within the military.
The BwCBRNDCmd comprises of the Headquarters, located at Bruchsal (between Heidelberg and Karlsruhe), two regular CBRN Defence Battalions, located at Bruchsal and Höxter (south of Hannover), two non-active battalions at the same places, and the CBRN Defense, Safety and Environmental Protection School in Sonthofen, Bavaria. Additionally, the German Detachment to the Joint CBRN Defense Centre of Excellence, located in the Czech Republic is subordinated for national issues to the command.
The Command has got three principal tasks: it is responsible for CBRN Defense policy-, concept- and capability development in the entire Bundeswehr, including all military and civilian services; it is the force provider for all kind of operations, domestic and out of country and has to provide qualified CBRN Defense Capabilities as well as military fire fighters; last but not least the Command provides education and training to all military and civilian services and ranks in CBRN Defense (enhanced and qualified level), but also in Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Protection and Fire Fighting.
To serve as the principal authority in CBRN Defense, the staff at the HQ comprises of a Policy and Forces Development Department, an Operations Department, and a Command and Control Department. The development of CBRN Defense capabilities on 4 capability levels (basic, enhanced, qualified, specialized) along DOTLMFPI is the main task of the first department. This department is also responsible for all multinational cooperation and the command’s contribution to the conceptual work of NATO and EU. The Operations Department is responsible for steering the process of providing well trained and prepared CBRN specialists and formations to operations. It also provides the CBRN Thread and Risk Analysis to the operational and strategic decision-making level. The C² Department supports the commander in his tasks maintaining the routine business of military formations.
The schoolhouse in Sonthofen is unique within the Bundeswehr, because of its comprehensive military and civilian approach. It also provides training possibilities for foreign students; teaching languages are German as well as English. Furthermore, the school owns a Scientific Department, comprising more than 45 military and civilian scientists and scientific educated and trained personnel. The department operates various stationary laboratories for radiological, biological and chemical training, analysis, and method validation. The department also supports operations with specialists and scientific reachback.
Both active CBRN Defense Battalions comprises of 5 companies each. The Headquarters/ Headquarters Company provides Real Life Support to the battalion and the companies. Furthermore, a battalion has got two regular CBRN Defense companies with CBRN reconnaissance, decontamination and water purification capabilities. These companies are able to support all kinds of combat missions in a “regular” warfighting scenario. The fourth company is equipped with light capabilities, transportable by helicopters. Main focus lies on all operations, which require high mobility.
Firefighting platoons and heavy decontamination equipment is the specialty of the 5th company. Additional assets in the battalions are Special CBRN Defense Reaction Platoons, with scientific educated and trained soldiers. These platoons are able to deploy on short notice, they provide scientific advice, which is based on their own detection and analysis equipment.
In the future structure – beginning as of 2017 – the CBNR Def Bn Höxter and the CBRN School will be equipped with new and state of the art deployable laboratories to conduct confirmed identification of radiological, biological and chemical substances.
The BwCBRNDCmd with its formations is able to provide specialized CBRN Defense Capabilities for all kind of operations and to respond to the three pillars of the CBRN Defense policy of NATO – prevention, protection and recovery. From very light and handheld to heavy and armored – the capabilities can be provided tailored to the mission to all possible military requests.
The CBRN defense forces enable the Bundeswehr to accomplish its missions under the conditions of a CBRN threat as well as in a CBRN environment. With regard to the various individual capabilities, their performance can be tailored to each situation.
The new BwCBRNDCmd has already proved its operational readiness level by providing the lead for the Combined Joint CBRN Defense Task Force with a multinational CBRN Defense Battalion and the Joint Assessment Team, trained according to NATO requirements and certified by NATO. It is still providing capabilities to the current operations, the Bundeswehr is involved.
The current main effort is the establishment of the cluster “CBRN Protection” within NATO’s Framework Nations Concept. This initiative brings together nations, which are willing to share and coordinate their capability development, which want to collectively provide CBRN Defense Forces to NATO Operations in an organized and foreseeable manner, and to share the burden in order to ensure NATOs CBRN Defense. Germanys offer to act as the Framework Nation for this cluster was accepted by the participating nations; the responsibility of the implementation lies with the BwCBRNDCmd. Thus, Germany and the Bundeswehr CBRN Defense Command prove the willingness to foster CBRN Defense within the Alliance for the sake of the nations as well as for NATO.