Brazilian Navy Conducts Mock Amphibious Exercise
By Taciana Moury/Diálogo January 24, 2017The Brazilian Navy held the 37th edition of Operation Dragon from November 28th to December 16, 2016. In total, 3,000 Brazilian Navy service members from the Marine Corps, and the 1st and 2nd Naval District Commands participated in the exercise, held in the maritime boundary between the two southeastern states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. Nineteen ships, four landing craft, four helicopters, two fixed-wing Skyhawk AF-12 airplanes, 12 amphibious vehicles (CLAnf, per its Portuguese acronym), and 10 combat vehicles were deployed. These resources comprised the Amphibious Task Force (ForTarAnf, per its Portuguese acronym), an organization that includes more than 50 military units from the Brazilian Navy. It was the most important exercise held by the Brazilian Navy during the year – and for the Marine Corps specifically – since it included all phases of an amphibious operation (OpAnf, per its Portuguese acronym): planning, embarking, training, transit, and attack. According to Brazilian Marine Corps Colonel Júlio César Franco da Costa, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Operation Dragon XXXVII Landing Force, “in this exercise we can assess our naval, air, and marine capabilities through their actions in an amphibious operation.” During their crossing, the Amphibious Task Force conducted onboard exercises and training to prepare the troops for executing an amphibious landing. Operation Dragon also enabled the large-scale testing of command-and-control systems and the coordination and synchronizing of operations to carry out assigned tasks. Amphibious assault December 4th was D-Day for Operation Dragon, when the simulation exercise really began. In spite of having set H-hour for 0800 on Itaoca Beach in Espírito Santo, preparing the landing area began much earlier, with the simulated destruction of targets on the ground and the use of Naval Fire Support provided by the ships and planes in the Amphibious Task Force. According to Col. Franco, the Naval Fire Support is tasked with destroying or neutralizing enemy defenses, helping to isolate the landing area, and destroying mines and other obstacles. “Naval fire is also used for supporting dive teams and mine sweepers during the final preparations to secure the landing beaches and sea access.” At H-hour, the earth ship movement began. That is when Navy ships deploy their amphibious resources at sea. The movement included amphibious landing craft and vehicles, as well as two helicopters capable of transporting the embarked troops. According to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Landing Force, the exercise simulates a real-world conflict situation using sea, air, and land maneuvers. Service members also conducted land operations. “The purpose of merging these assault landing elements is to unify and focus their forces, to provide combat support, and to relieve, clear, and overtake the stationary troops dedicated to carrying out defensive action,” Col. Franco explained. Amphibious assault is the most complete type of amphibious operation, said Col. Franco. “This is a simulated attack by sea to put a landing force on the ground, where, among other aspects, we can train service members how to capture a target area to carry out naval warfare operations, or to set up a forward base to help initiate or support a land campaign.” For Col. Franco, Operation Dragon XXXVII is very important for honing the Marines’ operational skills. He said a new edition of this exercise should occur in this same time frame in 2017. “That is when we avail ourselves of the ship and troop presence at Brazilian ports as part of the Fleet Week celebrations.” Multipurpose amphibious dock ship Bahia One difference in this edition of Operation Dragon is the use of the multipurpose amphibious dock ship (NDM, per its Portuguese acronym) Bahia, recently acquired by the Brazilian Navy for transporting and landing combat troops, vehicles, and equipment directly in the area of operations. Col. Franco said that during the exercise, the Bahia’s loading and unloading capacity was tested at sea and in the air. “This ship bolstered our naval power capabilities during the operation.” According to information from Naval Operations Command, Bahia’s other purpose is to carry out humanitarian aid missions. The vessel has a hospital complex with 49 beds capable of treating patients in critical condition, as well as burn victims. There are two surgery wards, a laboratory, a compartment for radiology exams, and an equipment-sterilization center, as well as medical and dental clinics. For Major Ana Cristina Requeijo, a public relations consultant for the Marine Corps Force Command, the big difference with NDM Bahia is the ship’s versatility which justifies its classification as “multipurpose.” “The incorporation of NDM Bahia into the Brazilian Navy projects their power over land, due to its amphibious capability, as well as its ability to carry out air operations, whether by controlling sea areas or through its command-and-control facilities,” explained Maj. Ana Cristina. One important difference with this vessel is its docking well, which can be extended at sea. This makes it possible to use the NDM Bahia for landing troops and materiel while the ship is underway. “Using this deck makes it possible to provide logistical support on beaches and in ports, as well as to provide support to the Marines, with their trucks and armored vehicles,” Maj. Ana Cristina concluded.