General Robert Blake Neller, who visited Brazil with a delegation of seven marines, participated in lectures and received the Navy Commendation Medal.
An invitation from the Brazilian Navy’s (MB, in Portuguese) Marine Corps (CFN, in Portuguese) Command prompted General Robert Blake Neller, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps, to visit Brazil, August 22nd-24th. The officer and a delegation of seven marines visited training centers, participated in lectures, and attended a work meeting. Gen. Neller also received a Navy Commendation Medal as a grand officer. The decoration, which Admiral Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira, MB commander, presented, is conferred upon national and foreign personalities, government ministers, naval force commanders, and other military leaders.
“The Brazilian and U.S. Marine Corps see the world through similar lenses, face the same challenges, and need this mutual cooperation to build a better world,” said Gen. Neller upon arriving at CFN headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro. On August 23rd, the officer and his delegation participated in a lecture at the Almirante Sylvio de Camargo Training Center, where General Alexandre José Barreto de Mattos, CFN commander, along with other Brazilian marines, seized the opportunity to share CFN’s history and current organizational structure.
Brazilian officials addressed CFN’s doctrine, plans for the future, main tasks, operations, and exercises conducted throughout the year. “We reinforced the importance of an enduring partnership with the United States and the strong bonds that unite both corps,” said Colonel Luiz Guilherme Dias Guadagnino, chief of staff of the CFN commander.
During his speech, Gen. Neller emphasized today’s challenges in the military arena. No single country, he stressed, has all the capabilities required to fight current threats. “He pointed out the importance of coalitions and partnerships, and summoned everyone present to work together,” Col. Guadagnino said.
Speaking from a training center, Gen. Neller took the opportunity to address participating marines, reminding them of the importance of physical and mental preparedness to overcome adversities. He stressed the importance of adapting to fight under conditions that differ from training. The U.S. Marine Corps commander reminded leading officers to be ready to make decisions, even when they lack all the necessary information.
Old and new partnerships
On August 24th, Gen. Neller and his team visited the Marine Corps Special Operations Battalion, in Rio de Janeiro. U.S. and Brazilian marines held a bilateral work meeting on interoperability.
“Both delegations demonstrated interest in improving interoperability through a common planning process, knowledge exchange agreements, and increased communication capabilities,” said Col. Guadagnino. As a result, CFN and the U.S. Marine Corps agreed to strive to increase existing professional exchanges.
Every year, CFN sends marines to the United States to participate in short-term U.S. Marine Corps exchanges and operational exercises, such as Steel Knight. The Marine 1st Division-led annual exercise tests marines in different environments, maximizing combat skills development.
CFN also receives U.S. marines yearly to take part in exercises or activities such as subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs). SMEEs promote expert encounters for knowledge exchange at the highest level.
U.S. Marines took part in the 2018 edition of Operation Formosa, among other Brazilian exercises, carried out September 21st–October 3rd. CFN also works with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South to carry out UNITAS Amphibious, a multinational exercise scheduled for August 2019 in Brazil.
“All exercises and exchanges are previously agreed upon during an annual bilateral conference, the Operational Naval Infantry Committee [ONIC],” Col. Guadagnino said. In 2018, the ONIC conference, ongoing since 2015, took place in Brazil, February 26th–March 1st. Both countries also have officers serving in each other’s military organizations, focusing on doctrine improvement and development or operational roles.