The first NATO EOD Demonstration and Trials was organised in 2010 in Trenčín, Slovakia. The main motto of this initial event was “To Assist in Saving Lives”. One part of this initial event was EOD robot testing, for which a special examination course was prepared. Results from testing and comparison with other EOD robots were very appreciated by all attended producers, as it helped them to see pros and cons of their technical solutions, thus helping them to identify a new way ahead.
All attendees also appreciated live demonstration of TTP provided by the Slovakian EOD team, as for many of them it was the first opportunity to see procedures of EOD team in action, thus better understanding EOD teams’ requirements. The exhibition part of the event was open to the public, which was warmly welcomed by nearby technical universities.
Since then, the event has been organised every two years under a different theme.
In 2012, whole Demonstrations and Trials was revolving around the main theme “New Detection Technologies and Equipment Enhancing Operator`s Capability and Safety Measures”. During the event, participants introduced several new perspectives on the topic from industry, military SMEs from NATO and PfP countries. The event was special in the way that NATO Russia Council took place as relating expertise activity. The council held on the last day of Demonstrations and Trials was designed to identify cooperation space between the NATO and the Russian Federation in the field of the EOD. The outcomes of this meeting created a bases for further cooperation in this area. Unfortunately, due to Crimea occupation by the Russian Federation followed by NATO – Russia relationship deterioration and further cooperation ceased in 2014.
The topic of Demonstrations and Trials 2014 was dedicated to “EOD Challenges in post-ISAF in the Light of NATO EOD”. The event was divided to live demonstrations, conferences, and two seminars. The conference part was committed to the future of military robotics and its potential in EOD-manned systems. Seminars tried to estimate, where are limits of technologies in replacing EOD operator’s ability and roles and procedures for testing technologically advanced EOD equipment, thus unifying all processes related to equipment test standardisation. The level of presentations and discussions reflected the experts contribution of 20 speakers representing NATO, EU, international and national institutions, agencies, academies, companies, and others from 11 countries, who took the opportunity to present not only new but also cutting-edge ideas.
To provide the event more accessible and to improve provision for all attendees, it was moved from Trencin to Bratislava in 2016. Since that time, the event has been organised in the INCHEBA exhibition area.
Next Demonstrations and Trials themed “Protection as Complex and Composite Responses to Terrorist Threat” in 2016, was focused on a wide spectrum of protection as a challenge for EOD/IEDD and C-IED experts, producers, industry, and SMEs involved in the fight against terrorism. During the event, participants had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the actual capacity of the present EOD and C-IED equipment as well as new techniques and technology for protecting the force and population. During the theoretical part of D&T2016 scientists and experts presented current and future ways of developments in protection against hazardous materials, adjustment procedures, conduct and progress in the development of new EOD and C-IED devices and tools. More than 150 experts from 22 countries and at least 300 visitors saw static exhibitions and live demonstrations. Exhibitors came from 14 NATO/PfP/MD countries.
Demonstrations and Trials 2016 indicated some important conclusions. Concerning EOD/IEDD and C-IED technologies it was stated, that necessary technologies had already existed and majority of them were integrated into the individual nation’s armed forces. The success of individual technologies is in the most cases directly associated with the final users’ expertise and their TTPs applied. Attention should be focused on comparison and verifying of parameters specified by individual companies. In addition, area of protection remains the most challenging for the further research. New methods and technical thought have to be developed in order to be beneficial for all.
The leading theme of 2018 year’s event was “Multidisciplinary Approach to EOD“ as a challenge for the NATO and SMEs coming from various EOD and related domains, academia, industry and other organisations involved in the fight against terrorism. Participants had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with nowadays capabilities of the EOD, C-IED and MILENG equipment, including new techniques, procedures and technologies developed to protect the forces and population. The scientists, producers and experts also presented the current and future trends and their elaboration into new EOD, C-IED and MILENG devices/tools. The event gathered more than 150 experts from 15 countries and over 200 visitors, who witnessed static exhibition and live demonstrations performed by exhibitors from 17 NATO and Partner countries.
The Senior Military Leader Seminar (SMLS) was organised for the first time as part of the event, dedicated to national, NATO and Partners senior military leaders/commanders with a focus on key aspects of the EOD role in joint operations. Main aim of SMLS was to inform senior military leaders about the EOD role within Joint Military Operations, including NATO Doctrines and EOD recognition within, EOD role in joint operation (including Article 5 operations) and EOD COE support to EOD COI (Community of Interest).
The overall topic of the NATO Demonstrations and Trials 2020 planned between 23 – 24 September was “Technological Innovations Influencing Future EOD and Related Capabilities”. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19 virus, in order to protect public health and allow proper preparation as well as to ensure sufficient contribution by all stakeholders, the NATO EOD COE was obliged to postpone the event to Autumn 2021.
Despite all obstacles, finally, the last event was held in Bratislava, INCHEBA Expo area, between the 13th to 14th of October 2021. The event was inaugurated by SVK Minister of Defense Mr. Jaroslav NAĎ, Deputy CHOD Lieutenant General Ľubomír SVOBODA, and Chairman of the NATO EOD Working Group Colonel Paul M. ILLINGWORTH. During the event, over 270 visitors from 32 countries had an opportunity to see equipment and technologies related to EOD, which were presented by 36 exhibitors from 17 countries.
Already the 6th iteration of NATO EOD Demonstrations and Trials was reinforced with a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of NATO EOD COE endorsement by the North Atlantic Council in 2021. Due to the significance and importance of this year in COE’s history, the most distinguished guests and 36 experienced speakers were invited to support the happening.
NATO EOD Demonstrations and Trials series proved a very successful and irreplaceable event seeking by SMEs, academia, and industry for its excellent opportunity to build new connections, exchange information, technical solutions, and find a way ahead with a common interest.
Organising the event broadens the knowledge about current and future aspects of EOD-related technology capability horizons and confirms or identifies the area of shortfalls. Discussions and demonstrations of technologies, TTPs, and different organisations/bodies’ approaches continuously help to shape further DAT POW efforts and roadmaps.