NATO members and Partners work together to plan and prepare for, and respond to, possible terrorist attacks, including with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents.
Coordinating aid to population
Consequence management involves reactive measures to mitigate the destructive effects of terrorist attacks, incidents and natural disasters.
Consequence management is primarily a national responsibility; however, NATO supports countries in several ways. For instance, it serves as a forum where planning arrangements for such eventualities can be coordinated among countries, therefore improving preparedness should a crisis develop.
Providing timely information to the public is also a key component of consequence management. NATO has developed guidelines for use by countries in this field to ensure that coordinated warnings are given.
In addition to serving as a forum for coordination, NATO maintains an inventory of civilian and military assets that, on a case-by-case basis, could be made available for consequence management.
Protecting populations and infrastructure
Since 2001, Civil Emergency Planning activities have focused on measures aimed at enhancing national capabilities and civil preparedness in the event of possible attacks on populations or critical infrastructures using CBRN agents.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 events, at the Prague Summit in 2002, a Civil Emergency Planning Action Plan was adopted for the protection of populations against the effects of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, a project was initiated the same year to develop non-binding guidelines and minimum standards for first responders regarding planning, training, procedures and equipment for CBRN incidents. The purpose of this initiative is to provide general guidelines that member and Partner countries may draw upon on a voluntary basis to enhance their preparedness to protect populations against such risks. These guidelines also seek to improve interoperability between countries.
NATO's Joint Medical Committee has developed treatment protocols for casualties following a CBRN attack and, more generally, the Alliance has defined coordination mechanisms for medical evacuation capabilities and a mechanism for allocating and transporting victims to facilities in other countries.
To add flexibility, NATO has developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the facilitation of vital civil cross border transport. This mechanism can be used, inter alia, for providing assistance required to cope with the consequences of a CBRN incident. The MoU aims to accelerate and simplify existing national border crossing procedures and customs clearance for international assistance to reach the desired location as quickly as possible.
The protection of critical infrastructure against CBRN attacks is principally a national responsibility. Nonetheless, NATO is working to increase national awareness on this issue.
The role of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC)
Allies have established an inventory of national civil and military capabilities that could be made available to assist stricken countries – both member and Partner countries – following a CBRN terrorist attack. This inventory is maintained by the -Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre.
The EADRCC was originally created in 1998 to coordinate responses to natural and man-made disasters and, since 2001, has been given an additional coordinating role for responses to potential terrorist acts involving CBRN agents.
The centre has a standing mandate to respond to a national request for assistance in the event of a terrorist attack using CBRN agents. It organizes major international field exercises to practice responses to simulated disaster situations and consequence management.
NATO Crisis Management System
The NATO Crisis Management System provides a structured array of pre-identified political, military and civilian measures to be implemented by states and NATO in response to various crisis scenarios. This system provides the Alliance with a comprehensive set of options and measures to manage and respond to crises appropriately. Within this system, specific Civil Emergency Planning Crisis Management Arrangements define the roles of the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee, the Planning Boards and Committees, the EADRCC and the use of civil experts during times of crisis.
Network of civil experts
A network of 350 civil experts located across the Euro-Atlantic area are selected, based on specific areas of support frequently required, inter alia, by the military. They cover all civil aspects relevant to NATO planning and operations, including crisis management, consequence management and critical infrastructure protection. Experts are drawn from government and industry. They participate in training and exercises and respond to requests for assistance in accordance with specific procedures known as the Civil Emergency Planning Crisis Management Arrangements.