New Brigade Reinforces Brazilian Army Presence in Amazon Region
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo April 06, 2018A ceremony on January 26, 2018 marked the activation of the Brazilian Army’s (EB, in Portuguese) 22nd Jungle Infantry Brigade, also called the Amazon Estuary Brigade, based in Macapá, in the state of Amapá. The new unit will boost protection of the 1,980-kilometer border with Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname. With the activation of this brigade, the last Brazilian state with international borders without a military brigade will be Acre.
Brigadier General of the EB Luiz Gonzaga Viana Filho, commander of the new unit, said the area of responsibility of the 22nd Brigade also includes a large stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, extending along the northern coast of the state of Pará and the entire states of Maranhão and Amapá. Under the Northern Military Command (CMN, in Portuguese), in the state of Pará, the 22nd Brigade will oversee operations of the 34th Jungle Infantry Battalion (BIS, in Portuguese) of Amapá, the 2nd BIS of Belém, Pará, and the 24th BIS of São Luís, Maranhão.
“The creation of the [22nd] Brigade, in keeping with the National Defense Strategy to prioritize the Amazon region, increases our military presence in the eastern Amazon region,” said Brig. Gen. Viana Filho. ”It enables better coordination between military organizations [2nd BIS, 34th BIS and 24th BIS], and marks the presence of the Brazilian government in the vast, under-populated areas along the border with Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.”
Another 3,000 men on the border
The 22nd Brigade is still in the making. According to Brig. Gen. Viana Filho, construction for the new unit’s facilities was budgeted at about $79 million and began in 2014 for a 2024 completion date. “We finished the Brigade Command Post, the Command Company facilities, the Guard Corps, and two residential buildings for officers and cadets, each with 24 apartments,” he said.
The new brigade began operating with a force of 1,000 personnel. According to Brig. Gen. Viana Filho, the force will comprise 3,000 personnel in Macapá, with 300 families living on base, and will count a total of 5,000 members. The increase in personnel—through EB's enlistment of more youth and the greater presence of service members in general—and construction work for the new base, will boost the economy of the region with the creation of more jobs.
“This is an achievement for Brazil, the Amazon region, and Amapá,” said Antônio Waldez Góes da Silva, governor of Amapá, during the activation ceremony. “We owe a great deal to the Army’s initiative and planning, because even though the last three years were marked by huge challenges [budget wise], it didn’t give up on its strategic planning.”
“I can say that it was a huge challenge, because of our budgetary restrictions, but we had the general and sectorial agencies in Brasília on board, and the project took off, thanks in large part to the work of the management team on this project,” said EB General Oswaldo de Jesús Ferreira, former head of the Northern Military Command. “I would like to pay homage to all those who participated in the effort to turn this dream into reality. This is a happy day for me.”
According to Brig. Gen. Viana Filho, the main challenges service members will face in the region are cross-border criminal activities, such as environmental crimes, illegal mining, smuggling, and deforestation, among others. On February 8th and 9th, shortly after the activation of the 22nd Brigade, Brazilian officials took part in bilateral meetings in Paramaribo, Suriname, and Georgetown, Guyana, to address regional security and border issues with a focus on unlawful transnational activities, intelligence exchange, and defense and police cooperation. Then Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann, Minister of Justice and Public Security Torquato Jardim, and Sérgio Etchegoyen, Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet for the Office of the President of the Republic of Brazil, participated.
“Crime became a national and international scourge. It’s no longer enough to fight it within the nation’s borders,” said Minister Jungmann. Officials discussed technical agreements in place since 1975, transnational crime, military formation and training, defense industry, and exchange programs with Brazilian military academies, among others. Cybersecurity policy for real-time sharing of cyber incidents and joint qualification of personnel was also addressed.