Brazilian Marines Celebrate 213th Anniversary with the Challenge of Reinventing Themselves
By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo March 05, 2021
ADSUMUS is a Latin word meaning “here we are.” Responding with ADSUMUS means that one is ready and present to answer a call or an order at any time. As such, members of the Brazilian Marine Corps (CFN, in Portuguese), which celebrates its 213th anniversary on March 7, use the word with great pride. These service members have never been more present, or ADSUMUS, than during the pandemic. The marines participated in virtually all operations aimed at minimizing the effects of COVID-19 carried out by the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese), such as disinfecting public places and launching campaigns to bring awareness to the population.
“With great pride, I can say that once again we have exceeded our expectations. Even before the pandemic hit the country, during Operation Return, the marines, together with various agencies and other forces, were already ready to welcome Brazilians repatriated from Wuhan, China… We serve in Operation COVID-19 carrying out activities such as disinfecting public places with heavy foot traffic, donating food and hygiene kits, and training civilians and public agents, in Brazil and abroad,” said General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, CFN commander. “We also focus on science and technology to protect those who have been, and are still, at the forefront fighting the novel coronavirus, and to whom we owe our gratitude and recognition: the valued first responders.”
Despite the pandemic, the CFN was able to carry out some important projects in 2020. As part of the Shipbuilding Program, the MB and the U.S. government reached an agreement to acquire joint light tactical vehicles, with deliveries expected to begin in 2022.
“The Marine Corps Office of Science and Technology, the leading-edge office, was also created within the Marine Corps General Command structure, which will greatly contribute to the acceleration of projects and synergy with the excellent research and development institutions which are already a part of the Brazilian Navy,” Gen. Zuccaro added.
Despite COVID-19, the CFN maintains a transformation plan that, for example, will invest more in human resources. “The CFN is investing in this type of initiative because it believes that human resources are the backbone of successful organizations. Only organizations that see this reality and value their human capital will survive and remain strong in the third millennium,” said General Alexandre José Barreto de Mattos, former CFN commander, at the institution’s anniversary celebration in 2020.
The CFN is also concerned about the environmental impact of its activities. Hence, the 2019 implementation of the sustainability plan, “CFN Transforms.” The plan encourages reflection and a change of attitude to incorporate socio-environmental responsibility within marine crews. This plan is part of the Environmental Management System, which has been implemented by the MB as a whole.
The CFN also wants to do a better job on gender integration. It has only been 41 years since the first woman joined the force. In 2016, CFN Second Lieutenant Débora Ferreira de Freitas completed the Amphibious Warfare Course, becoming the first woman qualified to command an infantry platoon in Brazil.
A little bit of history
The beginnings of CFN date back to 1807, when the Portuguese royal court, under threat of invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops, transferred to Brazil. This would later give rise to the CFN. During this move, the Royal Navy Brigade was responsible for the protection of the Portuguese court, which established its government in Rio de Janeiro, capital of Brazil at the time. The city was elevated to headquarters for the Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarves. The court and the Royal Navy Brigade’s arrival in Rio de Janeiro on March 7, 1808, marked the emergence of today’s Marine Corps.
It was not until the Proclamation of Independence, on September 7, 1822, that the need to establish a troop of seamen-marines to defend the newly created country was consolidated. On October 24, 1822, by decree, Emperor Pedro I created the Navy Artillery Battalion, in Rio de Janeiro, with the service members who stayed in Brazil after King D. João VI returned to Portugal.
Today, the CFN has 17,000 service members, all of whom are volunteers.