General Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez, commander of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese), spoke with Diálogo during the South American Air Chiefs and Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference, held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, November 4-8, 2019.
Diálogo: When you took office as FAB commander in January 2019, you committed to improving your personnel’s professional instruction. What advances have taken place?
General Antônio Carlos Moretti Bermudez, commander of the Brazilian Air Force: My goal has been to continue the work of my predecessors, who led the institution during the 78 years of the Air Command’s existence. These efforts are to enable our Air Force to have a strong deterrent capability and to be operationally modern, acting in an integrated manner in the defense of national interests.
The training, development, and qualification of our staff are priority factors for my management, because with qualified professionals we will be able to make our institution better prepared to fulfill its mission of controlling, defending, and integrating an 8.4-million square mile area. For this to happen, FAB has several established courses for professional advancement and specialization of its military forces. For example, the command and general staff course, advanced military study courses, and graduate and official career training courses from our schools. We also have the graduate training and evaluation program, which consists of two projects: a master degree and continuing education.
Diálogo: What does the development of the first KC-390 military transport aircraft mean for FAB? What are the aircraft’s capabilities?
Gen. Bermudez: The KC-390 will be the new backbone of the military air transport in Brazil. Capable of operating in the most diverse scenarios, from the Amazon rainforest to airstrips of the Antarctic, the KC-390 will undertake a series of logistics transport and in-flight refueling missions. Due to its capacity to carry up to 23 tons, the aircraft can also accommodate large equipment such as armaments, semi-assembled aircraft, and even the Brazilian Army’s Guarani armored vehicle, which will be used to protect our vast Brazilian land border.
Diálogo: One of FAB’s tasks is to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. What lessons has FAB learned after the forest fires in the Amazon of August 2019?
Gen. Bermudez: FAB has extensive expertise in the Amazon region, which has several peculiarities, such as a vast territory and a typically unstable and rainy climate. In the case of Operation Green Brazil, aimed at combating fire outbreaks in the Amazon rainforest region, FAB has been active since August 24 with 15 air units. FAB fire fighting and logistics air transport missions during the operation totaled over 875 flight hours. After two months, Operation Green Brazil left as a lesson the consolidation of joint work between the Armed Forces and government agencies. Each institution made the best use of its experience and knowledge in a coordinated and integrated manner. And in the case of FAB, this experience includes more than 70 years working in the Amazon, shortening distances, bringing citizens to the most remote regions and protecting the environment.
Diálogo: How do FAB and the U.S. Air Force collaborate?
Gen. Bermudez: Both the United States and Brazil generally seek to foster the exchange of experiences and to strengthen military partnership through training and instruction of personnel in various areas, such as training flights and unmanned aircraft operations. The United States and Brazil promote and maintain the exchange of technical cooperation between air forces, through the exchange of experiences and participation in multinational exercises, in which training and instruction can be shared and distributed. FAB also participates in symposiums, exercises, and exchanges that promote discussions on use of space strategies.
Regarding U.S. military exchanges in Brazil, the partnership occurs in a number of areas, for example cybersecurity, flight security, exchange of legal operations, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense exchange. In the educational field, FAB currently has exchange agreements with the U.S. Air Force ranging from semi-annual cadet exchanges between the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the Brazilian Air Force Academy (AFA) to annual exchanges, in-person and remotely, of majors taking command and general staff courses and colonels taking defense policy and strategy courses. In addition to student exchanges, there is an instructor equivalent at USAFA/AFA and at the Officer Training School (EAOAR, in Portuguese)/ Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA), which Americans encourage and request.