CBRN 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
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 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
Radiological weapon
A radiological weapon or radiological dispersion device is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactive material with the intent to kill, and cause disruption upon a city or nation....

 (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.

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
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 (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.

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.


The term is in common use in disaster and emergency services organizations across the country. Since July 2005, the Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

 also started using the term CBRN Defence, instead of NBC Defence, due to the increased threat of dirty bomb
Dirty bomb
A dirty bomb is a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. The purpose of the weapon is to contaminate the area around the explosion with radioactive material, hence the attribute "dirty"....

 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
Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
Canadian Special Operations Forces Command , is a command of the Canadian Forces...

, 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
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

, Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa Fire Services
Ottawa Fire Service protects the lives, property and environment of the people who live, work and visit the City of Ottawa. Service personnel are highly trained to respond to a wide variety of emergency and non-emergency incidents including fires, rescues and medical and hazardous-material...

, Peterborough, Ontario
Peterborough, Ontario
Peterborough is a city on the Otonabee River in southern Ontario, Canada, 125 kilometres northeast of Toronto. The population of the City of Peterborough was 74,898 as of the 2006 census, while the census metropolitan area has a population of 121,428 as of a 2009 estimate. It presently ranks...

 and Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 (Toronto Fire Services
Toronto Fire Services
The Toronto Fire Services is part of the Emergency Services that respond to 911 calls in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.-Overview:The Toronto Fire Services is responsible for responding to fires, rescue and assisting with medical situations within the City of Toronto...

, Toronto Police Service
Toronto Police Service
The Toronto Police Service , formerly the Metropolitan Toronto Police, is the police service for the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest municipal police service in Canada and second largest police force in Canada after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police...

, Toronto EMS
Toronto EMS
Toronto Emergency Medical Services is the statutory Emergency medical services provider for the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The service is operated directly as a branch of the municipal government as an independent, third-service option provider, which means that the service is funded by...

, and Heavy Urban Search and Rescue) have obtained CBRN standing at NFPA Standard 472 Awareness Level 3.

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
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

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

Indian Army

The Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer 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
Defence Research and Development Organisation
The Defence Research and Development Organisation is a agency of the Republic of India, responsible for the development of technology for use by the military, headquartered in New Delhi, India...


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.

Malaysian Army

The Malaysian Army
Malaysian Army
The Malaysian Army is the land component of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Steeped in British Army traditions, the Malaysian Army does not carry the title ‘royal’ as do the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy...

 (MA) formed the CBRN unit, known as Peperangan Nuklear, Biologi dan Kimia 3 Divisyen (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).

Royal Malaysia Police

The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) has CBRN providers. The Pasukan Gerakan Khas
Pasukan Gerakan Khas
The Pasukan Gerakan Khas is an elite high-profile counter-terrorism and special operations tactical unit of the Royal Malaysia Police...

 (PGK) with two special operations detachments, such as 69 Commandos and Special Actions Unit (UTK) has the HAZMAT expertise. The Federal Reserve Unit
Federal Reserve Unit
The Federal Reserve Unit , or better known by the abbreviation as FRU was established as a riot control forces and a special response team as well as a paramilitary that can be deployed regardless of time to engage on any emergency or public unrest that happens in Malaysia.-Role:The main role of...

 (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.

Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department

The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department
Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department
The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department , popularly known as Bomba, is the fire and rescue services agency in Malaysia. The Malay term 'Bomba' is borrowed from the Portuguese word bombeiros which carries the same meaning.- History :...

 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.


1st NBC Regiment 'Valencia' was formed in March 2005.Training in the defence against CBRN agents as part of combat support is the main aim of exercise 'Grifo' (Griffin) –the most important of this type that the Army undertakes. The term CBRN (in Spanish
Spanish may refer to:* Of or related to Spain* Spanish language, the official language of Spain and most of Latin America* Spanish people * The Spanish Empire, the empire administrated by Spain from the 15th century* Spanish cuisine...

 NRBQ -Nuclear, Radiológico, Bacteriológico y Químico) is replacing NBC (NBQ) but it has kept in the name of the 1st Regiment 'Valencia'. The National Police and the Spanish Civil Guard
Civil Guard (Spain)
The Civil Guard is the Spanish gendarmerie. It has foreign peace-keeping missions and maintains military status and is the equivalent of a federal military-status police force. As a police force, the Guardia Civil is comparable today to the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri and the...

 have have their own NRBQ units. The Military Emergencies Unit  and emergency services have CBRN training.

 United Kingdom

CBRN is also used by the UK Home Office
Home Office
The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

 as a civil designation. 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.

United States Army

The United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 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
Fort Leonard Wood (military base)
Fort Leonard Wood is a United States Army installation located in the Missouri Ozarks. The main gate is located on the southern boundary of St. Robert. The post was created in December 1940 and named in honor of General Leonard Wood, former Chief of Staff, in January 1941...


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

United States Air Force

The United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 (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.

United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 (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
Warrant Officer (United States)
In the United States military, the rank of warrant officer is rated as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1...

 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
Fort Leonard Wood (military base)
Fort Leonard Wood is a United States Army installation located in the Missouri Ozarks. The main gate is located on the southern boundary of St. Robert. The post was created in December 1940 and named in honor of General Leonard Wood, former Chief of Staff, in January 1941...

, Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...


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