Brazilian Armed Forces Initiate Border Operation
By Dialogo May 23, 2013
On May 18, the Brazilian Military started Operation Ágata 7 along the entire Brazilian border, which includes ten South American countries. By employing 25,000 Soldiers, and the participation of Federal Police agents, Highway Patrol, Military Police and government agencies, this edition is the largest deployment ever performed by the Brazilian government. The operation is designed to support the fight against crime between Oiapoque, in the northern state of Amapa, and Chi, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Before beginning the operation, the government was in contact with neighboring countries to transfer information regarding the use of the military. While Operation Ágata is part of the national Strategic Border Plan coordinated by the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces Joint Staff, its execution is the responsibility of the Brazilian Navy, Army, and Air Force (FAB).
Operation Ágata 7 occurs on the eve of the Confederations Cup, a soccer tournament hosted in Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador. Due to this event, the Ministry of Defense opted for a mobilization that would cover the 10,492 miles of national border versus actions that occurred only on portions of the border between Brazil and the South American countries in prior editions.
During the deployment, the troops will be on the lookout for major cross-border crimes such as drug trafficking, contraband and embezzlement, weapons and ammunition trafficking, environmental crimes, vehicle smuggling, illegal immigration and mining.
The Border Plan directed the operation, which was created by presidential decree in June 2011. Currently, 12 ministries, 20 government agencies and institutions from the 11 border states are taking part in Operation Ágata.
As the operation unfolds throughout the entire land border, the troops will have centers built at the western and southern Amazon Military Commands, where the Navy, Army and Air Force will serve. However, the three branches will utilize work force and equipment from military organizations and can count on reinforcements from other regions.
The Navy will use river patrol boats, UH-12 helicopters, hospital ships and speedboats. The Army will use aircraft, as well as armored and light vehicles for the transportation of the troops, and the land force will setup operations in strategic locations on the Brazilian border to block the highways.
In the particular case of the FAB, the operation center will be at the Aerial Operations Command, headquartered in Brasília, where Super Tucano airplanes (A-29), F 5EM fighters, radar airplanes, UAVs and helicopters are available.
The Ministry of Defense has performed six editions of Operation Ágata through the Armed Forces Joint Staff for almost two years. The boundary zone is 93 miles from the border, representing 27% of the national territory that includes 710 municipalities, 122 of which are border areas.
Besides combating illicit activities, Operation Ágata also unfolds civic actions such as medical, dental, and hospital services in areas where underprivileged families are located. According to the integrated balance, the prior six editions of Operation Ágata have resulted in 59,717 procedures, from which 18,304 were medical and 29,482 were dental services. Approximately 9,000 people received vaccinations and 195,241 medications were distributed.