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Lebanon strengthens preparedness and response to CBRN terrorism threats with field exercise supported by the EU

Lebanon Strengthens Preparedness and Response to CBRN Terrorism Threats with Field Exercise Supported by the EU

CBRN field exercises are coordinated activities which present potential real-life scenarios under simulated situations that law enforcement officers, emergency services and other response units might face if deployed in case of a threat involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) substances. For instance, the surveillance and arrest of terrorists in possession of CBRN agents, the detection of an illicit storage and clandestine CBRN laboratory, the response to CBRN illicit trafficking at border crossing points, or the neutralisation of explosives, among others.

The field exercises represent a useful tool to test and build up the countries’ technical and operational capabilities in the event of a real-life CBRN emergency. With several state agencies involved in each exercise, these training events can engage hundreds of participants from national agencies, international organisations and subject experts working together towards a common goal: to make countries and regions safer.


ARZ 2023: a strategic milestone in CBRN counter-terrorism efforts

As part of its mission to advance CBRN risk mitigation and strengthen security and safety worldwide, the European Union supported a four-day (4 – 7 March, 2024) field exercise in Beirut, Lebanon in order to test and enhance the country’s capacities to prevent and respond to a CBRN terrorism threat.

Established in the context of the EU CBRN CoE Initiative, the field exercise ARZ 2023 served as a diagnostic tool, measuring the needs of Lebanese institutions involved in CBRN event responses and identifying areas requiring enhanced capabilities.The exercise aligns seamlessly with Lebanon’s CBRN National Action Plan 2023-2028, a strategy developed with the support of the EU CBRN CoE.

ARZ 2023 scenarios delved into operational and strategic aspects, covering critical areas like managing chemical releases triggered by terroristic attacks, identifying CBRN materials, medical treatment and decontamination of casualties, VIP protection and rescue in a CBRN-contaminated environment, and refining leadership, communication strategies and inter-agencies coordination in emergencies.

The exercise aimed to enhance Lebanon's response capabilities to CBRN threats, foster interagency coordination, strengthen capacities related to sampling and identification, medical treatment, and refine operational procedures.

Key participants* included Lebanese institutions such as Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces, Beirut Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission, and Red Cross.


Strengthening Middle East’s resilience to CBRN threats

ARZ 2023 is part of a comprehensive series of CBRN field exercises implemented in the Middle East to strengthen the region’s resilience against CBRN risks. 

The series started in 2021 with the delivery of ARZ 2021 in Lebanon, followed by a preparatory field training in May 2023 that paved the ground for ARZ 2023, which was conducted in March 2024. It will continue with a Regional Table Top Exercise scheduled for 2025 in Jordan, a partner country of the EU CBRN CoE within the Initiative’s Regional Secretariat for the Middle East.

The series of CBRN field exercises in the Middle East stands as a testament to international collaboration and shared commitment in building resilience against CBRN threats. The successful execution of this series signifies a collective step forward in ensuring the safety and security of nations in the Middle East region and beyond.


Organization and Implementation of a CBRN Counter-Terrorism Field Exercise: Guiding Document

This Guiding Document aims to serve as a reference for the organization and implementation of CBRN Counter-Terrorism field exercises. The document focuses on the organization and implementation of the CBRN Counter-Terrorism Field Exercise ‘ARZ 2021’, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon (6 - 9 December 2021), within the context of the EU CBRN CoE.

The guidance includes information on the format and objectives of the Exercise, the types and roles of participants, materials and tools developed, necessary equipment, organization and logistics, the evaluation process, visibility materials, safety and security issues, COVID-19 measures, the final output of the Exercise, and general recommendations.

This CBRN resource serves as a testament to the power of hands-on learning, partnerships, and the collective commitment to building resilience against CBRN threats.



Multi-agency cooperation: a recipe for success

Funded by the European Union, ARZ 2023 was organised under the leadership of Lebanon's National CBRN Coordinator, Dr. Bilal Nsouli, who also acts as Lebanon’s National Focal Point for the EU CBRN CoE initiative. 

The exercise was co-organised by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in cooperation with the EU CBRN CoE On-Site Assistance Expert for the Middle East Regional Secretariat. 

It was also supported by and designed in close coordination with the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), as well as experts from several EU CBRN CoE projects, namely: 

  • Project 73 - Protection of Critical Infrastructures
  • Project 94 - On-Site Technical Assistance to the EU CBRN CoE Regional Secretariats
  • Project 97 - Improvement of the Chemical Security and Safety in the Middle East

To know more about the EU CBRN CoE support for the strengthening of CBRN risk mitigation in Middle East, visit the Middle East Regional Secretariat page.-

*The exercise was supported by a team of international evaluators, coordinated by the National Authority to the OPCW - the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. International Cooperation was ensured with a team comprised of CBRN experts of the Austrian Armed Forces, French Police, Guardia Civil EUROGENDFOR (Spain), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Italian Army, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Iraqi Ministry of Interior and UNICRI.

Observers comprised representatives from the European Union (EU), European Commission (EC), League of Arab States, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), expert delegates from Oman, United States, and other partner countries of the EU CBRN CoE initiative, implementers of relevant projects, and selected representatives of foreign missions present in Lebanon.


Publication date

17 April 2024

Service for Foreign Policy Instruments | Joint Research Centre
CBRN areas
  • Crisis management
  • Denying support for misuse and terrorism
  • First response
  • Post incident recovery
  • Protection of material/facilities
  • Public health impact mitigation
  • Safety and security
CBRN categories
  • Chemical
  • Biological
  • Radiological
  • Nuclear
CoE Region
  • MIE - Middle East

         Photo credits: ©Joe Saliba, for European Union