Brazilian, Colombian, and Peruvian Navies Conduct Joint Border Operation
By Taciana Moury/Diálogo October 18, 2017The Brazilian, Colombian, and Peruvian navies participated in BRACOLPER 2017, a combined operation on their tri-border in the Amazon region. The operation brought together nearly 400 service members from the three countries with the purpose of raising the level of training, interoperability, and interaction among their river, air, and marine units. “BRACOLPER also helped in the fight against border crime in the region, as well as providing for a strengthening of brotherhood and friendship bonds among the forces,” said Brazilian Navy Captain Pedro Lima Silva Filho, the commander of the Amazonas Fleet. The waters of the Solimões and Negro rivers in Brazil and the Amazon River in Colombia and Peru were used as a ‘stage’ during the exercise, which rolled out in three phases: two operational exercises conducted from July 10th to August 10th and the final exercise, from September 3rd–8th, which involved the participation of ships and service members during Brazil’s Independence Day celebration. Brazil, Colombia, and Peru have been holding BRACOLPER annually since 1947. This was the 43rd edition of the exercise. For Capt. Silva Filho, the operation was a great opportunity to synergistically join the navies of different nations and cultures together to further a shared objective. “These experiential and informational exchanges will help us conduct combined operations in the future using the ships of the forces involved,” he added. Brazilian Navy Commander Luciano Eni da Silva, the chief of the Operations Division at the 9th Naval District Command, noted to Diálogo that the shared problems faced by the nations of the Amazon region can be combated during BRACOLPER. “This operation supplements our defense and it protects Brazil’s interests in the region,” Cmdr. Luciano said. “BRACOLPER is one more opportunity to operate together in a river environment and learn how the navies of our partner nations operate, as well as refreshing ourselves on our regulations and procedures or acquiring new knowledge by observing how the participants operate,” he stressed. Training the service members involved During the period of these operations, several training issues were worked out, according to Cmdr. Silva Filho. “The preparation and timing of our navigational operations on the rivers of the Amazon, in response to asymmetric surface warfare threats, were some of the issues we worked on, as well as firefighting and self-defense capacity-building exercises,” he outlined. One of the planned activities was a transit exercise with an opponent using asymmetric surface warfare. Held on the Amazon River, the training simulated an asymmetric surface attack against the naval units involved and had the objective of evaluating and training the crews on rapid-response procedures. Participating in this operation were the river patrol ships (NPaFlu, per its Portuguese acronym) Pedro Teixeira and Rondônia, the Brazilian Navy hospital ship (NAsH, per its Portuguese acronym) Soares de Meirelles, the ARC Letícia from the Colombian Navy, and the patrol ships Castilla and Clavero from the Peruvian Navy. According to Capt. Silva Filho, the NPaFlu Rondônia was used as a fast-attack craft for the exercise. “The importance of this activity is that it trains the ships’ commands and crews for a real-world situation; for the time when you have to navigate through the Amazon region on stretches of rivers where these threats exist.” Another activity performed during BRACOLPER 2017 was the “Leap Frog” exercise, in which two ships approach each other and remain side-by-side for a 10-minute period. The exercise took place during the crossing between Tabatinga, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, and Iquitos, in Peru. According to Cmdr. Luciano, the exercise implies transferring water and oil without the ships having to come to a full stop. “For instance, this might be carried out when there is a need to meet a deadline to be at a certain place, or even in a situation when the ships are underway and not allowed to stop,” he explained, adding that this activity involves a high level of risk, considering the winding nature of the river, with constant course changes and variations in the riverbed. During the first two phases of the operation, there were also training exercises on signaling (sending messages using flags in certain positions) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP, or cargo transport by aircraft), using a UH-12 helicopter from the Third General Use Helicopter Squadron. Later, in the third phase, the service members participated in a firing exercise in the area of Novo Airão, in Amazonas state. “The objective was to qualify the ships’ operations teams as well as exchange knowledge and experiences among the Brazilian and foreign crews,” Capt. Silva Filho said. Observing Brazil’s Independence Day The closing ceremony for BRACOLPER 2017 took place during Brazil’s Independence Day celebrations on September 7th. Held at the Manaus Convention Center, in the capital of Amazonas state, the parade, according to its organizers, attracted approximately 10,000 people and included the participation of 5,000 active and reserve service members. The Brazilian Navy Group paraded alongside the Colombian Navy and Peruvian Navy groups. The naval parade took place on the western edge of the river zone in Manaus, with five Brazilian ships—four patrol ships and one hospital ship—participating, as well as the Peruvian Navy patrol ship Castilla and the Colombian Navy patrol ship Leticia. Over the course of BRACOLPER, Colombia’s Independence Day on July 20th and Peru’s on July 28th were also celebrated. These military ceremonies were attended by naval representatives from the three nations participating in the operation.