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CBRN Summit Addresses Cross-border Collaboration

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 120 representatives from civilian and military agencies across the U.S. and Canada gathered here for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Summit Feb. 3 and 4, despite the massive snowstorm that closed the base for two days prior.

The CBRN Summit, hosted by U.S. Northern Command, featured scenario-based discussions that focused on the command's role if there was a need for an international CBRN response in Canada.

Steve Cichocki, CBRN Response Program Manager at USNORTHCOM said the summit is critical because it supports several of the Commander's top priorities, namely partnership building and the CBRN Response Enterprise.

"Understanding each other's current state of planning and anticipated capability shortfalls will help us more rapidly respond if requested and approved by the Secretary of Defense," said Cichocki.

Within the U.S., the CBRN Response Enterprise is comprised of state, National Guard and federal military contingents working together to support civil authorities in order to save lives and minimize human suffering. This requires personnel from Department of Defense and National Guard Bureau to be fully integrated through supporting plans and effective training, exercises and coordination.

The challenge of this summit was to use this same model to support cross-border coordination with Canada.

"The more planning we do up front, the smoother the operation will be if we need to work with our Canadian allies," said Cichocki.

This was the fifth year of the summit, and the most robust group of military, civilian and interagency partners from both the U.S. and Canada to ever assemble for this forum.

Representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces, U.S. State Department, Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Public Safety Canada, Public Health Canada, Global Affairs Canada, National Guard Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Joint Task Force Civil Support were among those who attended the summit with USNORTHCOM personnel.

The Environmental Protection Agency provided a static display of its Portable High Throughput Integrated Laboratory System.  The mobile lab, designed to detect chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, is based in Castle Rock, Colorado and can deploy anywhere in the contiguous U.S. within 48 hours. A similar system is also based in Edison, New Jersey.

USNORTHCOM partners to conduct homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation to defend and secure the U.S. and its interests. USNORTHCOM provides DOD capabilities for disaster response operations in support of such agencies as the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Interagency Fire Center, and state and local officials.

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