Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear

Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear

CBRN (pronounced C-BORN or C-BURN) is an initialism for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. It is used to refer to situations in which any of these four hazards have presented themselves. The term CBRN is a replacement for the cold war term NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical), which had replaced the term ABC (atomic, biological, and chemical) that was used in the fifties. The addition of the R (for radiological) is a consequence of the "new" threat of a radiological weapon (also known as "dirty bombs"). Since the start of the new millennium, a new term – CBRNe – was introduced as a replacement term for CBRN. The e in this term represents the enhanced (improvised) explosives threat.[1]

CBRN defense (CBRND) is used in reference to CBRN passive protection, contamination avoidance, and CBRN mitigation.

CBRN weapons/agents are often referred to as weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, this is not entirely correct. Although CBRNe agents often cause mass destruction, this is not necessarily the case. Terrorist use of CBRNe agents may cause a limited number of casualties, but a large terrorizing and disruption of society. Terrorist use of CBRNe agents, intended to cause terror instead of mass casualties, is therefore often referred to as weapons of mass disruption.[2]

A CBRN incident differs from a hazardous material incident in both effect scope (i.e., CBRNE can be a mass casualty situation) and in intent. CBRN incidents are responded to under the assumption that they are deliberate, malicious acts with the intention to kill, sicken, and/or disrupt society. Evidence preservation and perpetrator apprehension are of greater concern with CBRN incidents than with HAZMAT incidents.

Recent analysis has concluded that worldwide government spending on CBRN defence products and services will reach $8.38bn in 2011. [3]



The term is in common use in disaster and emergency services organizations across the country.[4] Since July 2005, the Canadian Forces also started using the term CBRN Defence, instead of NBC Defence, due to the increased threat of dirty bomb use (which is radiological in nature). CBRNE is a new term that is being used in both civilian and military organisations. The Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit is a Canadian Forces unit, under the direction of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, charged with supporting "the Government of Canada in order to prevent, control and mitigate CBRN threats to Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests.".

At the provincial level, cities are provided opportunities for their emergency services with CBRN training. In Ontario, fire departments in Windsor, Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Peterborough, Ontario and Toronto (Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Police Service, Toronto EMS, and Heavy Urban Search and Rescue) have obtained CBRN standing at NFPA Standard 472 Awareness Level 3.[5]

The Ontario Provincial Police's UCRT ("U"rban Search & Rescue / "C"BRNE "R"esponse "T"eam is a specialized team responsible for CBRNE Incident Response for the province of Ontario, Canada. The team was formed in 2002 and was called the Provincial Emergency Response Team (PERT) until 2010, when the name was changed to UCRT.

 Hong Kong

Hong Kong has CBRN capabilities since the early 1990s and advance training after 1998.[6] Hong Kong Fire Services HAZMAT and Hong Kong Police EOD teams handle CBRN calls, with the latter dealing with explosive devices.[6]


Flag of Indian Army.svg Indian Army

The Indian Army has 16 CBRN or order so far, the first 8 were inducted in December 2010. It was developed and manufactured by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).[7]


Gardaí.jpg Irish Police Force (An Garda Siochana)

The Irish Police Force ,An Garda Siochana, have a number of nationwide CBRN response teams. The teams are based regionally and began responding from 2008. They are trained by the Garda Tactical Training Unit. The main threat is Chemical and Biological from large pharmacuitical plants situated around the country.


Tenteradaratlogo.jpg Malaysian Army

The Malaysian Army (MA) formed the CBRN unit, known as Peperangan Nuklear, Biologi dan Kimia 3 Divisyen (English: Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare Division 3; PNBK 3D) in 1 April 2002 to deal with all the biohazardous threats in Malaysia, including nuclear weapons and weapon of mass destructions (WMD).[8]

Royal Malaysian Police.svg Royal Malaysia Police

The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) has CBRN providers. The Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK) with two special operations detachments, such as 69 Commandos and Special Actions Unit (UTK) has the HAZMAT expertise. The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) also has the CBRN unit in RMP.

Both PGK and FRU teams handle CBRN calls, as the first responder before an army PNBK unit will handle it when the biohazardous threats by terrorist or disaster was become.[9]

Bomba-logo.jpg Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department

The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department has a Hazmat Unit that was established on October 29, 1992, with the approval of the Cabinet following the tragic explosion of the Bright Sparklers fireworks factory which located at Sungai Buloh, Selangor in 1991. The Hazmat unit is responsible for handling hazardous materials incidents that threaten lives and damage environment. A total of 2,000 officers has been given special training on "Hazmat Incident Command Systems" to complement the knowledge of the procedures dealing with hazardous materials. Penang is the location of the Centre of Excellence for the Hazmat Unit.[10]

United Kingdom

CBRN is also used by the UK Home Office as a civil designation.[11] Police, Fire and Ambulance services in the UK must all have some level of CBRN providers. Within the ambulance service this is performed by the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and Special Operations Response Team (SORT).

The term CBRN has replaced NBC in the UK armed forces.[12]

United States

United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army

The United States Army uses CBRN as an initialism for their 74D Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations Specialists military occupational specialty (MOS). The United States Army trains all US Army soldiers pursuing a career in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) at the United States Army CBRN School at Fort Leonard Wood.

The term (CBRNE) is also used to define the scope of the FA-52 (Nuclear & Counterproliferation Officer) functional area community.

Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) uses CBRN as an initialism for their 3E9X1, Emergency Manager, Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). The United States Air Force trains all US Airmen pursuing a career in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) at the United States Air Force CBRN School at Fort Leonard Wood. Upon completion of technical school, all 3E9X1's must complete the CBRN Responder course. This adds the Toxic Industrial Chemical (TIC) and Toxic Industrial Material (TIM) detection capability to their ability to react to the Full Spectrum of Threat Response (FSTR). This additional training makes the 3E9X1 AFSC the only specialty in the US Air Force graduating apprentice-level Airman with Technician Level HazMat certification.

USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) use it as an initialism for their 5711 and 5702 military occupational specialties (MOS). 5711s are enlisted Marines that are CBRN Defense Specialists. 5702s are warrant officers that are CBRN Defense Officers. Prior to the MOS name change, 5711s were known as nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) defense specialists and 5702s were known as NBC Defense Officers.

The Marine Corps runs a CBRN School to train Marine CBRN Defense Officers and Marine CBRN Defense Specialists at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

See also


  1. ^ What is CBRNe by ib consultancy
  2. ^ Radiological weapons use by terrorists by ib consultancy
  3. ^ "THE CBRN DEFENCE MARKET 2011-2021". visiongain. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Calgary Health Region CBRN Training
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b Hong Kong’s Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear Attack,, retrieved 2010-04-03 
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Bernama (April 2011). "PNBK 3D capable handling terrorist threats". Penerangan. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Leroy (December 2008). "Malaysian Special Forces". Special Weapons. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  10. ^ Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (July 2009). "Hazardous Material (HAZMAT)". Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  11. ^ UK Resilience - Emergencies - CBRN
  12. ^ "CBRN". Ministry of Defence. "Elements of 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) equipped with a variety of highly technical vehicles and specially trained personnel provide the Army's contribution to the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiolgical and Nuclear Regiment (Jt CBRN Regt). The Regiment provides detection, survey, reconnaissance and decontamination capabilities with analysis and advice to the three Services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and, where necessary, other government departments." 
  • John Eldridge, ed (2006). Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense 2006–2007 (19th ed.). Coulsdon, Surrey, UK; Alexandria, Va.: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0710627637. 

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