The Armed Forces Return to Operations in Rio de Janeiro
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo September 01, 2017The Armed Forces are back on the streets of Rio de Janeiro for Operation “Rio Quer Segurança e Paz (Rio wants Security and Peace).” Since the United Nations Conference on the Environment & Development, or Rio 92, the Armed Forces have undertaken overt police missions in Rio de Janeiro to ensure security at major events on at least six occasions (Rio + 20 in 2012, World Youth Day in 2013, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 World Military Games, and the 2016 Olympic Games). At other times, the Armed Forces have been called in to pacify slum communities, such as Alemão complex in 2010, and Maré complex in 2014. In these cases, the Armed Forces operate within the legal limits of Law and Order Assurance (GLO, per its Portuguese acronym) operations under presidential decrees, when the resources of traditional law enforcement agencies are stretched to the limit or in severe situations of public disorder. GLO provides military forces with temporary authorization to operate with police powers for a limited time. Although these operations are generally successful, the reality is that once the Armed Forces leave the area of operations, the initial problems quickly return. Accordingly, the federal government has promised that this time, the operations will be different. The Armed Forces will provide support to state and federal security forces in order to defeat criminal organizations. Intelligence, integration, and surprise For this purpose, the Armed Forces have formed a joint staff at the Eastern Military Command Headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro, to plan integrated operations to be undertaken by the three branches. An intelligence unit has been formed in the state, in which general officers from the Army, Navy, and Air Force work together with the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, the Federal Police, and other state and municipal law enforcement agencies. Under the current decree, the operation will last until December 31st, but the federal government has emphasized that this deadline was a bureaucratic requirement and that it will be extended until the end of 2018. “On other occasions in which the Armed Forces have been sent to Rio de Janeiro, the purpose was to provide the population with the necessary security so that a special event could take place. Thus, the Armed Forces implemented patrols for a certain time, providing the population with a sensation of security. This is a fleeting sensation of security, which does not solve the ongoing public security issue in Rio de Janeiro,” admitted Brazilian Army Colonel Roberto Itamar, the spokesperson for the Eastern Military Command and the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces. “The purpose of the National Public Security Plan for Rio de Janeiro is precisely to fight organized crime by reducing the crime rate and weakening and disarming criminal organizations, in order to provide the population with a permanent sensation of security,” he added According to Col. Itamar, GLO will undertake occasional operations with specific objectives. These operations will be based on intelligence work, integration of the security forces, and the element of surprise. “This is the first time that the Armed Forces have been deployed in this manner. It is important for the population to understand that it will not be seeing military personnel in the streets giving them a temporary sensation of security. The state forces have not been exhausted. Rather, these forces are being used. Law enforcement operations are occurring normally. Some will be supported by the Armed Forces, others will not,” he explained. The number of men involved depends on the mission The first operation under the new GLO took place on July 28th with the mobilization of more than 10,000 federal forces, including 8,500 from the Armed Forces, 620 from the National Public Security Force, comprising federal police officers and police officers from the state law enforcement agencies, as well as 1,120 from the Federal Highway Police. Reconnaissance and acclimatization operations were conducted. Troops were also deployed at different locations around the city and they patrolled several areas. The force is not a fixed one, according to Col. Itamar, and will depend on the operation. “Those were the numbers for this first operation; future operations may be smaller or larger depending on the demands of the mission stipulated for the particular operation,” he said. The second operation, called Onerat, held on August 5th, involved almost 5,000 men from the security forces, including 3,600 Armed Forces personnel. It was conducted in the Lins Complex, comprising 12 slum communities on the north side of Rio de Janeiro. The operation resulted in 15 arrests and the seizure of three pistols, two grenades, four radios, 16 vehicles, one motorcycle, four kilograms of cocaine, and 13 kilograms of marijuana. “The trinomial of intelligence, integration, and surprise elements will remain intact. We want to refine and improve each of these components to obtain bigger and better results. In terms of integration and coordination, both operations were successful,” stated Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann, after an August 8th meeting with 10 federal lower house representatives from the state of Rio de Janeiro to discuss law enforcement initiatives under Operation “Rio Quer Segurança e Paz).” “I want to make it clear to criminals and outlaws that there is no sanctuary, that there will be no space or place where we cannot undertake an operation or several operations, based on our intelligence,” added Jungmann. The population of Rio de Janeiro seems to approve the deployment of military personnel throughout the state. One survey conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Opinion and Statistics, and ordered by the Special Secretariat for Social Communication of the president’s office, revealed that 90 percent of the population recognized the importance of the Armed Forces in reducing violence, and that 60 percent had already noticed improvement with the presence of federal troops. The survey was conducted by telephone between August 4th and 7th, while the first two operations were still ongoing. The security forces conducted a third operation, called Dose Dupla, on August 16th. This time it was conducted in Niterói, in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. The Armed Forces were responsible for cordoning off several slum communities. The operation involved 2,605 military personnel, including 1,588 from the Army, 817 from the Navy, 200 from the Air Force, 300 from the Civil Police, and 250 from the Military Police. Operation Dose Dupla was launched after six months of investigations and more than 10,000 hours of telephone intercepts, and resulted in the arrest of 16 adults and two teenagers, as well as eight rifle magazines, two sets of body armor, three radio transmitters, one kilogram of marijuana, 100 tubes of cocaine, and bookkeeping material.