The Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CCOPAB) is recognized internationally for its excellence in training Brazilian and foreign military personnel who participate in United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping missions worldwide. CCOPAB also offers courses (called internships) for civilians from several areas, among which, the Internship for Journalists and Press Officers in Conflict Areas, the last of which was held July 4-8 at the center’s headquarters and military units adjacent to Vila Militar in Deodoro, in Rio de Janeiro. Diálogo’s Senior Editor Marcos Ommati, who took part in the training course, spoke with CCOPAB commander, Brazilian Army Colonel Carlos Alberto Moutinho Vaz.
Diálogo: What does the Brazilian Armed Forces gain from doing this internship and how are the trainees selected?
Brazilian Army Colonel Carlos Alberto Moutinho Vaz: The biggest gain is the increase in knowledge for journalists and press officers about the mission and the modus operandi of the Brazilian Armed Forces, facilitating the understanding and providing more precise coverage of events related to these. I also want to highlight the trainees’ familiarization with the Brazilian participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian demining missions, as well as the participation of the CCOPAB in the training of personnel for these missions.
The selection is made by the Land Operations Command, in agreement with the Army Social Communication Center [CCOMSEx], which is the central body of the Brazilian Army’s Social Communication system. It is based on press agencies’ requests and on suggestions received from the eight Area Military Commands, located in different regions of Brazil. Each Command maintains a relationship with the press agencies in their respective areas and makes suggestions seeking to observe diversity in training participants. CCOMSEx tries, in the final selection, to prioritize the geographic diversity and media representativeness.
Diálogo: With the end of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti [MINUSTAH] and the decrease in U.N. peacekeeping missions in general, why is CCOPAB still relevant?
Col. Vaz: Even with the decrease of Brazilian military personnel in peacekeeping missions, after the withdrawal of Brazilian units from MINUSTAH and from UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon], Brazil still maintains a very relevant qualitative participation, with military and police personnel in individual missions, such as military observers, staff officers, and U.N. police officers. Moreover, Brazil has deployed military personnel in leadership positions, such as the current Force Commander of MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the Force Chief of Staff of UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan]. Also noteworthy is the presence of a Brazilian Jungle Warfare Training Team at MONUSCO, which has been doing excellent work in training the mission’s own military, as well as the local armed forces. CCOPAB plays a fundamental role in preparing all these military and police who will carry out these functions.
Besides the individual missions, Brazil participates in the United Nations Peacekeeping Capabilities Readiness System [UNPCRS], through which the country is committed to maintaining military units capable of acting in peacekeeping missions. CCOPAB annually prepares and certifies the units registered in the UNPCRS, in order to ensure compliance of Brazil’s commitment to the U.N.
Also worth noting is the role of CCOPAB in the training of civilians to act in unstable environments and areas of conflict. In this context, CCOPAB has already trained hundreds of journalists, press advisors, U.N. agency employees, and representatives from several other areas, contributing to the safety of these professionals when operating in risky environments.
Diálogo: What differentiates CCOPAB from other training centers for peacekeeping missions in the region?
Col. Vaz: Firstly, it is worth noting that CCOPAB has already received five training certifications from the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, after a rigorous evaluation process for each of the certified courses and internships. This demonstrates the technical capability of CCOPAB and reinforces the Center’s reputation as an international benchmark in the field.
I would also like to highlight the CCOPAB’s great international insertion, with the permanent presence of foreign instructors and students and the frequent deployment of instructors and mobile training teams to other countries to conduct training activities.
I would also add the wide range of courses, internships, and other training programs conducted by CCOPAB, aimed at Brazilian and foreign military, police, and civilian personnel. To get an idea of the volume of personnel trained by the Center, in 2021, CCOPAB trained about 3,000 people.
Diálogo: Does CCOPAB have agreements/work together/do exchanges with its peer institutions? Is it common for foreigners to train at CCOPAB?
Col. Vaz: Yes, CCOPAB is a full member of the Latin American Association of Peacekeeping Operations Training Centers [ALCOPAZ] and the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres [IAPTC]. With this, the Center participates in several consolidation initiatives, with emphasis on the exchange of instructors, debates on doctrinal aspects related to peacekeeping missions, and thematic seminars. In 2022, the annual meetings of ALCOPAZ, in Argentina, and IAPTC, in Bangladesh, are scheduled to happen in which CCOPAB will participate and make thematic presentations.
The presence of foreigners as guest instructors and as students in CCOPAB’s training programs is common. In 2022, with the improvement of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, this exchange has been further intensified and CCOPAB is expected to receive an even larger number of foreign students in its courses and internships.
Diálogo: You are still in your first year of command, however can you pinpoint any lessons learned? What legacy do you intend to leave to your successor?
Col. Vaz: The biggest lesson learned is the importance of consolidation for the success of the CCOPAB. Internally, CCOPAB has an excellent team of professionals, composed of military personnel from the three Brazilian Armed Forces, as well as foreign military personnel as permanent instructors and researchers of the Brazilian Research Network on Peacekeeping Operations. Externally, CCOPAB maintains a close relationship with people and institutions, in Brazil and abroad, of established reputation and solid knowledge on peacekeeping missions and humanitarian demining. This allows CCOPAB to remain at the forefront of knowledge in its areas of operation.
As a legacy, I will work to ensure that CCOPAB maintains its reputation as an international benchmark in training people for peacekeeping and humanitarian demining missions. To this end, our team will continue to strive on a daily basis to provide training programs of excellence, anchored in sound and up-to-date doctrinal concepts, relying on the most modern technologies and educational methodologies.