On December 2, 2020, the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) announced that the frigate Independência has began its return trip to Brazil after completing its mission with the Maritime Task Force (FTM, in Portuguese) of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Brazil will continue operating with the FTM through January 2021, with some 16 service members. Three MB service members will also retain other functions in the UNIFIL Command Joint Staff.
During nine years of consecutive operations, and with the participation of an MB ship, more than 3,600 service members have cooperated with the Lebanese government to stop the entry of unauthorized arms and equipment into its territory by sea, to train the Lebanese Navy, and to take part in surveillance of maritime and land areas. During this period, the FTM inspected more than 71,200 ships and directed about 14,100 of them to Lebanese authorities for inspection, at sea or on land, operating in the 17,000-square-kilometer Maritime Area of Operations.
In addition, Brazil’s political and strategic participation in the FTM-UNIFIL Command enabled the Brazilian Navy to demonstrate leadership capabilities and coordination, while incorporating logistics and operational knowledge.
The conclusion of the MB ship participation in UNIFIL rests on an ample study that the MB carried out in 2019. The study evaluated operational gains against logistics efforts required to maintain an MB ship for six months in the region, and pointed to the need to reorient the strategic posture of the force, also considering the following:
a) The National Defense Policy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Strategic Plan of the MB, which includes the South Atlantic as a strategic environment for the country, and requires converging efforts to operate in this large region, rich in natural resources, but with threats.
b) Illegal fishing, environmental crimes, drug trafficking, and piracy, among others, are part of the reality of this strategic environment. In this context, there is an imperative need for constant updates and reorientation of plans and strategic conduct of the MB, considering its capabilities.
c) The maritime area corresponding to the Blue Amazon, in the South Atlantic, with about 5.7 million km2, where more than 95 percent of our foreign trade crosses, and about 95 percent of the national oil is extracted, a collection of live resources, minerals, and environmental sites, including strategic ports, industrial, and energy centers, which increasingly demand more robust presence of the MB and other relevant institutions, as well as the development of monitoring and control systems, contributing to the promotion of a defense mentality within society, compatible with Brazil’s international stature.
As such, the MB will continue to contribute to UNIFIL with its knowledge, personnel and, on another front, will focus on strengthening its presence in the South Atlantic and Blue Amazon — crucial assets for national development — to improve its current operational capacity, guarantee the security of Brazilian citizens, and develop its strategic programs.