The impact of CBRNE agents and the role of SLAF

The current scenarios of the global security establishment disclose new types of ever-growing dynamic and vigorous threats that suggest a deviation from the traditional way of managing security towards a strategic vision to protect people and property in depth. .

In such circumstances, the risks associated with incidents related to the use of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) agents must be considered as a cause capable of creating destructive and terrifying consequences in any country. . ; people, animals, equipment, vegetation, political stability and the economy.

From a safety perspective, a predetermined release of extremely hazardous chemicals or mixtures into the environment could be considered a chemical threat. Toxic gases, liquids, aerosols or solids are considered toxic chemical agents which can cause serious toxicological effects on plants, animals and humans.

Dangerous pathogens

Viral, fungal, bacterial and parasitic organisms are included in dangerous biological pathogens that have the ability to cause serious disease or even pave the way for the death of humans, livestock and crops. People can be exposed to these agents through inhalation, skin exposure, or ingestion of contaminated food or liquids. The release of clearly hazardous radioactive material into the environment is a radiological emergency.

Incidents of this nature have the potential to occur anywhere where radioactive isotopes are used, stored or transported; this leads to the contamination of public life, public transport, workplaces and other sensitive structures. The occurrence of a nuclear detonation due to a fission or fusion process is deduced as a nuclear event. Although the possibility of an outbreak of nuclear war is rather low, the likelihood of a lone nuclear explosion or a situation in which unintentional or predetermined radiological contamination has increased relatively.

Unexploded landmines, munitions and improvised explosive devices are the traditional explosive hazards widely observed. In addition to psychological stigma and severe burns, explosives can pose long-term hardships to survivors; infections, kidney damage and serious health effects.

In fulfilling the requirement to be prepared to face the threats and dangers of such caliber posed by CBRNE agents, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) established its CBRNE squadron at Katunayake Air Base in 2016 SLAF’s CBRNE wing plays an important role as well as being the first responders to all kinds of threats posed by CBRNE officers.

Wing Commander Nilindra Perera has been the Wing Commander since its inception. Wing Commander Perera told the Observer on Sunday that his squadron is made up of nearly 200 highly trained and skilled expert officers and airmen in a plethora of different military requirements.

Surveillance system

SLAF maintains a nuclear security monitoring system at Bandaranaike International Air Port (BIA) and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA). “CBRNE Wing responders are sent to train in South Korea, Serbia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan and the United States. United, ”said the wing commander.

SLAF’s CBRNE wing is also the very first military unit to recruit women (air officers and women), serving in a CBRNE response team in the South Asia region. All members of the CBRNE response team are trained for two and a half years during which they acquire solid technical know-how, skills and competencies required for the mission at hand.

Wing Commander Perera said the SLAF is always well armed, equipped and ready to respond to any type of military and industrial chemical attack thanks to its proprietary knowledge and expertise backed by a solid infrastructure. The Wing Commander said: “Air mobility is critical. SLAF has the capacity to reach any corner of the island in an hour and a half ”.

The mission carried out by the SLAF in bringing down a group of Sri Lankan students, caught in the Chinese province of Wuhan, during the first outbreak of Covid-19 is notable and commendable.

On February 1, 2020, the flight on board with the students landed at MRIA. The Wing Commander said his team was well equipped, armed and prepared for this breakthrough mission which demonstrated the professionalism and endurance of the CBRNE Wing in this crucial and memorable mission. SLAF maintains two CBRNE units at BIA and MRIA.


The most important activity in case of elimination or risk mitigation of CBRNE agents is decontamination which can protect humans and the environment from hazardous circumstances. To have a good decontamination, exceptional planning and appropriate training should be given to the parts that come into action in a place where there is a threat to the lives of people. It is mandatory to physically remove hazardous agents promptly, as none of the chemical decontamination operations indicate rapid destruction or neutralization of CBRNE agents. Commanders are required to agree on initial actions using the principles of initial operational response and administer them in an organized and appropriate manner.

Rapid and early decontamination administered on CBRNE agents may be a more effective and efficient way to save lives and mitigate damage and destruction than rigorous decontamination which is administered lately using separate decontamination tools or adapted. Wing Commander Perera said his team plays an important role in detecting, decontaminating and responding to threats posed by CBRNE officers. He said his team has been involved in the disinfection process in particular since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The wing commander said his wing is also involved in the task of disinfecting export and import air cargo at BIA and MRIA. Each local and international plane on arrival and departure is disinfected and following which a declaration is also issued to the disinfected part which is mandatory for landing on certain destinations, in particular Russia and China.

Training courses

SLAF’s CBRNE wing offers training sessions to the military and navy. At the same time, they provide training courses at the Army Disaster Training Management School. As Wing Commander Perera stated, there are many stakeholders involved in CBRNE counter-response operations globally. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in The Hague, the Netherlands, plays an important role in this meeting. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contributes as a key player alongside the Atomic Energy Regulatory Council (AERC). The role played by the Washington-based Department of Energy (DOE) is important.

Faced with biological incidents, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the local Ministry of Health are also deploying response efforts. Wing Commander Perera acknowledged his debt to SLAF Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana for his guidance and support to his Wing in improving their skills and frontier knowledge in this subject. specific with high demand.

Air Marshal Janaka Amarasinghe, Director of Ground Operations and Vice Air Marshal Udeni Rajapakse, Commander of Katunayake Air Base, are also appreciated for their assistance, extended throughout. Dr Sugandika Perera from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Anil Ranjith, Director General, Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Regulatory Council (SLAERC), Jayantha Edirisinghe, Director, The National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) and its staff members as well as Dr Rohan Perera of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are also appreciated for their continued contribution. Wing Commander Perera referred to the good offices of Dr. Rohan Perera of the OPCW, for mediating in the facilitation of sponsored courses offered at Wing CBRNE.

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