Brazilian Operation Combines Defense Training with Medical Assistance to Citizens
By Dialogo May 10, 2016
Nearly 600 Brazilian Navy and Army personnel with the Navy's Sixth Naval District Command executed a multi-faceted training exercise called Operation Celeiro from March 29th to April 16th. Headed by the Sixth Naval District Command, the combined initiative took place throughout Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul states, located on the country's western border with Bolivia.
For the security portion of the event, service members were divided into two groups on the shores of the Paraguay River between Brazil and Bolivia. While the "Red Team" represented an enemy occupying a portion of the river's shore, the "Blue Team" portrayed Brazilian forces that were required to devise and execute a plan to retake control of that territory. But there was also a civic assistance element that provided free medical services to the local populations.
“We are always holding this sort of training, but this was the first time that we have combined Troop training with navigation security actions and medical assistance all in one operation held at the same time,” said Rear Admiral Petronio Augusto Siqueira de Aguiar, Commander of Brazil's Sixth Naval District. “It was excellent in terms of its productivity. We were able to do more with fewer resources.”
During the exercise, the group playing the enemy role was formed by Marines, using two ships and one aircraft. Those representing the national forces consisted of Marine and Army personnel, using seven ships and one aircraft.
The confrontations were performed with real weapons but using blanks. “Training is accompanied by a monitoring group, which acts as a sort of judge, analyzing each side’s impacts and engagements,” RADM Petronio said. “Based on this evaluation, we can learn lessons from the positive and negative points on the actions conducted by our Troops. This is done during and primarily after the operation.”
Operation Celeiro was divided into four sub-operations: “Celeiro Sul” trained Troops on how to retake territory; “Celeiro Norte” focused on patrols and inspections of ships on rivers in the Pantanal; “ASSHOP Cáceres” provided medical treatments to riverine populations; and “Navegação Segura” (Safe Navigation), which is ongoing, carries out readings to update nautical maps for a 100-kilometer stretch of the Paraguay River. Personnel also scheduled to fix or replace any damaged signs along the stretch of waterway by May 9th.
Another operation along the same lines is being planned for the second half of the year in Mato Grosso do Sul, according to RADM Petronio. “The intent is for it to be even larger, involving more service members and covering a greater area.”
After they departed from the municipality of Ladário, Mato Grosso do Sul, on March 29th, the ships and service members headed to Cuiabá, Cáceres, and Santo Antônio do Leverger, in Mato Grosso state.
During the trip, they performed patrol activities and ship inspections, with the goal of preventing crimes and saving the lives of those who work or travel on the rivers, or use them for recreation.
During the 19 days of Operation Celeiro, authorities inspected 340 vessels, 25 of which were issued citations, mainly because the pilots did not have all the necessary documents. Three vessels were seized: one for not having lifebuoys and an unlicensed pilot, and the others because the vessels weren't licensed to operate as transportation vehicles.
More than 90,000 people live in the municipality of Cáceres, which is surrounded by the Paraguay River. In Operation Celeiro, the part of the population furthest from the city center received medical and dental treatments from the Navy, which used the Tenente Maximiano Hospital Assistance Ship.
“We provided 625 medical and dental treatments,” RADM Petronio said, adding that primary illnesses impacting the population were hypertension, skin infections, and viruses, as well as dental cavities. Authorities also distributed 11,000 doses of medication.