On March 18, Brazilian Minister of Defense Army General (ret.) Fernando Azevedo e Silva said that the Brazilian Navy, Army, and Air Force were at the service of Brazil in the fight against COVID-19 (the disease caused by the coronavirus), offering operational and logistic resources.
“This is a war. The enemy is invisible, fierce, and determined in its actions. In times of war, the Brazilian people can count on the Armed Forces, which have been by our side through thick and thin, and that’s how it’s going to be,” he said during a press conference from the presidential palace.
Gen. Azevedo ordered the creation of a Crisis Committee within the Ministry of Defense’s Joint Operations Center. “We are already working toward bringing all the help and assistance that the Armed Forces can and will provide. We receive those requests through the Crisis Committee. We have several resources, particularly in terms of logistics and transportation of supplies. We have ways to reach remote regions, such as the Amazon,” he said.
Brazilian service members are ready to deploy to help on operations to combat the pandemic. A total of 10 Joint Commands were launched to cover the national territory, in addition to the Aerospace Command, whose function is permanent. Several municipalities and states have already requested support from the Armed Forces, said the Ministry of Defense in a press release.
Military units specialized in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense may also be used to decontaminate personnel, locations, and materials. Brazilian service members may also assist by screening individuals who are possibly infected and referring them to hospitals or health centers.
The Armed Forces will also assist with border access control and provide support to federal government operations that control crew and passengers at airports, ports, and terminals. Service members could also establish field hospitals. The initial support consists of lending and setting up tents — typically used to provide shelter to troops in the field — that now serve as screening stations to refer people, possibly infected by the coronavirus, to hospitals and health centers.
In the next few days, the Brazilian Armed Forces will be able to launch new operations to combat COVID-19, such as distributing water to families in need, donating blood from volunteer service members, and responding to other requests from various states’ Civil Defense departments.