CCOPAB: The Brazilian Center for Peace and Excellence
By Dialogo January 01, 2013
In 2001, the Center of Preparation and Evaluation of Brazilian Army Peace Missions, which almost ten years later became the Brazilian Joint Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CCOPAB), was created to support the training of military members, police officers, and civilians from Brazil and friendly nations for peace missions and humanitarian demining.
The United Nations (UN) currently has 17 ongoing peace missions. Brazil participates in ten, two of which stand out: the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), for which Brazil is the major contributor of troops; and the only naval peace mission, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Since 1948, Brazil has participated in over 30 UN peacekeeping operations, and has provided a total of almost 25,000 troops. Among others, Brazil has joined missions in Africa, Asia, Central America and Europe, including, Angola, Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Sudan, Uganda, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Croatia, Cyprus, Cambodia and East Timor. Brazil provided and still provides military units in support of five operations in the First UN Emergency Force in the Suez Canal (UNEF I), the UN Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III), the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ), the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNTAET/UNMISET), and Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Although the command belongs to the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian peacekeeping training center (CCOPAB) includes officials from the three military branches, and also has participation from police officers. The mission essentially contributes to preparing the military members, police officers and civilians for the abovementioned peace operations.
Since February of 2012, Colonel Luis Fernando Estorilho Baganha is responsible for the commanding the center. He says that the structure of the place is integrated, meaning that it counts on the participation of all segments utilized in the peace operations.
“Obviously, it is never easy to integrate and we see this in other places outside Brazil. Each force has its own strong culture, that must be adapted to work together, which is normal. This has been done in a very positive manner”, says Col. Baganha. “I do not see a reaction or any type of difficulty when it comes to integration. I would say that, surprisingly, it is easy to integrate with other forces and even other countries,” he added.
For this reason, a major part of the training offered at the CCOPAB is that of cultural diversity, one of the basic principles of the UN. “This is very easy for us, because our culture already has a multicultural integration since the beginning, and we have been raised this way; our colonization was like this, which makes it very easy”, said Col. Baganha. According to him, “for the Brazilian people, it is not difficult to adapt to different environments. It is very easy to take part in a party in Nepal, or a meeting in Sri Lanka; we have traces of all cultures in our country, so communication comes naturally and easily to the Brazilian people.
Col. Baganha explained that the CCOPAB does not teach classes, but it offers internships, so it’s students are called interns. The basic difference, according to him, is the schedule, the duration, and the activities performed. These internships have different durations, depending on the need of each student. It may last one week, 15 days, one month, or more. The requirement is that they must be officers, regardless of their ranks. The Humanitarian Demining Internship, for instance, is composed mostly of lieutenants. There is an internship for the training of squadrons and sub-unit commanders, devoted to the Brazilian Squadron in Haiti (BRABATT), which is essentially for lieutenants. The internship for the training of contingent Joint Staff commanders and officials, however, is for senior officers and commanders who are usually colonels. There is also the UNIFIL Internship, which works with Joint Staff officers and other senior officers.
When Diálogo visited the CCOPAB, in May of 2012, there were 22 military members who were training for individual missions abroad through internships known as Expert Commissions. They involve training for the duties of military observers for all of the UN peace missions. This is a unit that varies in size, based on the activity that the center is involved in at a given moment.
There is also an extensive program for international cooperation. Diálogo talked to an officer from the United Kingdom who is participating as instructor for one of the peacekeeping training internships. He spent one month in the CCOPAB, in Brazil. “This is an incredible opportunity to exchange experiences. The Soldiers from my country have focused on Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 years. Therefore, to participate as instructor here provides me with a good perspective of the work performed by the UN regarding the peace missions around the world. The diversity of workers in these missions is fantastic! They are prepared to be sent to any mission, anywhere in the world”, exclaimed Captain Gareth Jones, from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, United Kingdom.
However, we cannot forget that the Armed Forces are essentially designed for missions in environments of war. When the military members take part in a peace mission, they must train in techniques for a completely different environment. Fundamentally, there are no enemies in a peace operation. Therefore, the Soldiers need to adjust their frame of mind and their techniques. For example, the Armed Forces do not always use non-lethal weapons, so they must receive training for this particular use, which is very common in peace missions.
Also, there are different rules of engagement. “When there is proportional and gradual use of force, it must be very well understood based on the situation experienced at each moment, in each place we go. We then try to bring these adjustments into our training. The preparation for a war environment must shift to the preparation for the peace environment, even in a country or region where there is instability in a greater or lesser degree”, explains Col. Baganha.
There are still solutions that the Soldiers consider unusual, which are improvised, depending on the situation or critical moment. “Once, there was a confrontation with protesters in Haiti. They were advancing against the troops, I can’t remember exactly what the reason for that protest was, but there were a lot of people, and the troops had approximately 30 to 40 soldiers. They blocked us. We were getting ready to stop the access of this group to a sensitive area of the Haitian government, a place where protesters were not allowed. When the protestors came closer, some people began singing the national anthem of Haiti in the midst of the protests, and our Soldiers joined in singing the Haitian anthem as well. Because of that, the protesters started to applaud and the protest ended”, Col. Baganha narrated emotionally. It is easy to understand why the Haitians admire and are fond of the Brazilian Soldiers who performed the role of peacekeepers.
For more information, visit: www.ccopab.eb.mil.br
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