Protecting Law and Order
By Dialogo October 01, 2011
Colonel Fernando Montenegro/Brazilian Army commander, 1st Motorized Infantry Battalion Operation Arcanjo IV at the Alemão and Penha complexes in Rio de Janeiro is the most recent example of using the Brazilian Armed Forces to guarantee law and order (GLO). Presently, Operation Arcanjo IV is the only one of this nature in Brazil and is used in accordance with Article 88 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution, which grants the Armed Forces GLO powers when requested by any of the constitutional powers.
Though Brazil’s first Federal Constitution established guaranteeing law and order as an Armed Forces responsibility, the first time the Brazilian Army participated in these types of actions was in 1824 in the city of Recife. Over the years, the Brazilian Army has been called to action several times, and the Brazilian Constitution has been amended.
Since the late 1990s, the Brazilian Army has been highlighted in the media several times due to the deployment of troops in urban areas to conduct different activities including community pacification during police strikes and election security, among others. These operations by the Land Force were chiefly motivated by the evolution of organized crime and the declining effectiveness of the public safety agencies.
During Operation Arcanjo IV, constitutional authorities used various legal guidelines, found in supplementary laws, to deploy the Land Force for this pacification activity. It is important to note that the unprecedented cooperation agreement signed between Rio de Janeiro’s state government and the Eastern Military Command, which turned over command of all operations to the Brazilian Army, defined that the operation be targeted, episodic and of limited duration.
The use of the Army in this case derives from the need to ensure the observance of the law and to maintain public order. It is essential that troops observe these laws, particularly those that guarantee individual and collective rights.
Due to the nature of Operation Arcanjo, the need for awareness of individual rights becomes more important, along with a heightened awareness of abuse of power. Both measures restrict the freedom, rights, and prerogatives of children and adolescents, and the prevention of drug and weapons trafficking. In addition, knowledge of military crimes, the legal regulation of police powers in the military sphere, the state of emergency, legitimate defense, the strict fulfillment of legal obligations, and the regular exercise of rights also deserve the same attention.
During actions against organized crime, experience has shown that it is important to know some of the legal procedures to be adopted during repressive actions against narcotics trafficking and the illegal possession of weapons. The legislation that addresses these matters is vast and complex, encompassing measures to prevent and repress illegal trafficking, in addition to narcotics abuse. The correct understanding of this legislation is fundamental in developing effective rules of engagement to determine the appropriate procedures for exercising police power by the Land Force. In this way, Operation Arcanjo’s rules of engagement were based on deployment directives issued by the Ministry of Defense itself, which always seeks to provide opportunities for the troops to learn and train.
It is noteworthy that a law was written in 2010 to extend police powers from its limited scope of border areas alone to any operation deploying troops. Still, constant verification of assistance by legal advisors to the Army and the Military Public Prosecutor’s Office has been necessary in all actions.
An example of this is the care taken to issue judicial warrants during Operation Arcanjo. Each case was analyzed to avoid the uneasiness caused during Operation Asphyxia in 2006, in which a number of generic warrants were generated, unnecessarily harming the reputation of the Land Force. For this purpose, global positioning systems are being widely used to determine the exact location of property. Additionally, in the course of occupying the Alemão and Penha Complexes, a Military Judicial Police Station was established to handle military crime, and a Civil Police Station to deal with common crime.
A Change in Approach
Despite the Brazilian Army’s current success, it is important to consider that Military personnel receive training that is traditionally oriented toward a war effort, where the predominant players are divided into “friends” and “enemies.” However, the reality of security in the Alemão Complex implies very different characteristics. The use of lethal weapons in current conditions should only take place during extreme situations. In many situations, whether on their own initiative or forced by organized crime, bystanders include elderly people, pregnant women and children. This scenario has led to countless adjustments in the preparation and use of the troops deployed in the operation. The use of Psychological Operations has significantly reduced the deployment of troops in various situations or made them unnecessary. The actions of intelligence agents, even without the authority to intercept signals, has proven essential to the success of the majority of actions, enabling an economy of means and timely action by the troops.
The main strategy used to dissuade the perpetrators was the principle of masses, that is, the visible presence of large numbers of armed personnel. As a result, Military companies deployed missions with four squads, instead of three. In addition, each combat group had two sergeants, when normally there is only one. The objective of this tactic is to allow the group to split into two squadrons to increase the capacity to patrol and occupy units. The sergeant is considered a responsible expert in a position to overcome situations and avoid legal problems. It is also important to note that Military personnel with experience in Haiti were prioritized during the recruitment process.
Avoiding Collateral Damage
With a directive to avoid the use of lethal weapons and collateral damage as much as possible, the 1st Infantry Regiment, the Sampaio Regiment, launched an intense block of training during preparation for Operation Arcanjo IV. Based on the current situation, it is essential that Military personnel be familiar with the levels of the progressive use of force, because they will be able to act within the determined levels of approach and in accordance with the attitude or reaction of the individuals involved. The level of force used is the one best suited to the circumstances of the risks encountered, as well as the action of the suspects or offenders during a confrontation.
Additionally, knowledge of the rules of engagement and legal requirements were addressed during the training process. A variety of training was offered to provide an effective replacement for the use of lethal agents and help avoid undesirable collateral damage. This training included self-defense; immobilization and weapons protection techniques originating in Krav Maga, a form of combat of Israeli origin; training with an easily reversible incapacitating agent (colorful products with a strong odor that adhere to the skin); irritating agents such as ginger and pepper sprays; and the use of rubber bullets.
The concern with acting in accordance to the law has been decisive to the success of Operation Arcanjo. The standard operating procedure is directed to prepare the troops deployed for the operation and to the large-scale acquisition of nonlethal equipment to be used.
Pacification Forces of the Arcanjo Operation
Arcanjo: Paratrooper Infantry Brigade
Arcanjo II: 9th Motorized School Infantry Brigade (until start of 5th Military World Games)
Arcanjo III: 11th Light Infantry Brigade (Campinas)
Arcanjo IV: 9th Motorized School Infantry Brigade (upon completion of 5th Military World Games)