Brazilian Military’s White Paper to Guide Future Defense Priorities

By Geraldine Cook
June 17, 2011

Brazil’s Ministry of Defense, for the first time ever, plans to release soon a White Paper that will serve as a guide for the country’s overall national defense policy. The “Livro Branco,” will include detailed information about strategy, planning, budgets and military equipment.

Brazil’s Ministry of Defense, for the first time ever, plans to release soon a White Paper that will serve as a guide for the country’s overall national defense policy. The “Livro Branco,” will include detailed information about strategy, planning, budgets and military equipment.
This unprecedented document promises to offer transparency and rare insights into the intentions and workings of Brazil’s armed forces. Observers say the White Paper initiative, together with the 2008 National Defense Strategy, has improved civilian-military relations within the country and inspired Brazil’s neighbors to consider the strategic ramifications of a militarily powerful Brazil.
“It’s important for all Brazilians to understand the significance of our engagements in the area of defense. Civil society should understand that defense issues are not exclusive to the military,” President Dilma Rousseff said at an Apr. 5 awards ceremony in Brasilia. She then went on to tout the White Paper initiative as a way to get civil society involved in discussions about national defense.
Under the Brazilian Complementary Law (Lei Complementar), which took effect in August 2010, Congress and the Ministry of Defense are jointly responsible for defense strategy. The law also requires the White Paper to be updated every four years, and that it contain strategic data, budgetary figures, institutional information and details regarding equipment as they relate to the Brazil’s armed forces.
It also must cover the following topics: the strategic scenario for the 21st century; national defense policy and strategy; modernization of the armed forces; rationalization and adaptation of defense structures; economic support of national defense; separate analyses on the Army, Navy and Air Force, and finally peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid.
The White Paper is expected to provide details as to how the armed forces will implement Brazil’s 2008 National Defense Strategy, which laid the groundwork for more open, transparent communication of the country’s defense and security objectives.
“The White Paper won’t differ much from the strategy document of 2008, but it will more explicitly incorporate nuclear power within the context of Brazilian defense, while highlighting the production of a nuclear submarine propelled by a uranium-enriched reactor,” said Fabián Calle, a security specialist with close ties to the Brazilian defense establishment. “This will send a message that Brazil has the capability to produce nuclear weapons, thereby matching world powers and making it worthy of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”
Gen. Julio Hang, director of the Institute for International Security and Strategic Affairs (ISIAE), called the 2008 National Defense Strategy a “breakthrough document.”
“Not only did it describe the internal changes related to Brazil’s protection of its ‘green Amazon’ and ‘blue Amazon’ [deepwater oil reserves] and incorporate modern areas like outer space, nuclear and cybersecurity, but it also detailed the whole system of logistical capabilities that its armed forces would have and how it viewed the South American countries as partners in the area of defense production,” said Hang, whose ISIAE is a division of the Argentine Council on International Relations.
Hang largely credits Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim with helping to bolster the defense industry by convincing Brazil’s Congress and the public at large that investing in a strong defense industry will contribute to the country’s economic development. In most other Latin American countries, noted Hang, defense spending is seen only as a cost rather than a long-term investment. ¨
What Brazil did with its defense strategy document and is now doing with its White Paper initiative is illuminating other countries in the region about what defense and international security will look like in the future¨, said the general. ¨Ideally, countries will look to take advantage of Brazil’s advances by increasing defense cooperation, especially in the area of production.”
Hang explained that Argentina is doing just that with co-production of the KC-390 transport aircraft, expected to start in 2012.
Brazil’s Ministry of Defense is leading a series of seminars throughout the country, broken down by the strategic themes outlined in the White Paper. The first of three such seminars took place in Campo Grande in March and was entitled ¨The Synergy Between Defense and Society.” Two more were held, one in Porto Alegre in April and the other in Manaus earlier this month, sharing the theme ¨The Strategic Environment of the 21st Century.”
A fourth seminar titled ¨Defense and the Military Instrument¨ will take place at the end of June in Recife, and two additional conferences scheduled for August in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo will cover the topic “Defense Transformation.”
To ensure the conclusion of this project by July 2012, the federal government has created an Inter-Ministerial Working Group to oversee coordination of the strategic document.
“Brazil has the largest reserve of potable water on the planet, some of its largest mineral deposits, is a neighbor to 10 countries and hosts a 12,000-kilometer frontier of Amazon forest,” said Jobim, justifying the need for a defense plan during the April seminar in Porto Alegre.
The White Paper initiative follows on the heels of another unique editorial endeavor by the Ministry of Defense, together with the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, which in October 2010 jointly published a voluminous book entitled “International Security: Brazilian Perspectives” [Segurança Internacional: Perspectivas Brasileiras].
The book, edited by Jobim and his advisors, is a compilation of 39 articles written by scholars with a deep knowledge of Brazilian strategic affairs. Its chapters cover everything from challenges in contemporary security to specific threats in Central America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
The book is a prelude for what’s to come in the White Paper. Some of its repeating themes include the shift toward a multipolar world order, the need for Brazil’s armed forces to have dissuasion capabilities to protect the country’s natural resources, and a focus on asymmetrical and non-conventional warfare.
Congratulations on the article. I’d like to know if Brazil’s White Book is available online. Thanks.