During a bus tour of the striking São João Fortress, the site of the foundation of the city of Rio de Janeiro (1565), Brazilian Navy Rear Admiral Gilberto Cezar Lourenço made a comment that drew chuckles from the passengers. “The sun rises for everyone, but the shade of Sugar Loaf is only for those who have the privilege of working at the Brazilian War College [ESG],” he said, referring to the landmark peak in Rio de Janeiro, located right in front of the ESG, in the bucolic neighborhood of Urca.
The bus passengers were representatives of the 10 countries participating in the XXIII Ibero-American Defense College Directors Conference (CDCDIA), hosted by the ESG August 29-September 2. Brazil (host), Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay took part in the event with the United States as a permanent observer. It was the fifth time the ESG hosted the annual event — the previous editions were in 2001, 2008, 2011, and 2016.
Bicentennial of Independence
Brazilian Air Force General Luis Roberto do Carmo Lourenço, chief of Education and Culture of the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint Staff, presided over the opening ceremony along with Brazilian Army Lieutenant General Adilson Carlos Katibe, ESG commandant, and Major General Himario Brandão Trinas, ESG deputy commandant. In his opening speech, Lt. Gen. Katibe said that hosting the conference was an honor for ESG, particularly in a year that marks the Bicentennial of Brazil’s Independence, on September 7. “The ESG and Brazil consider this conference of fundamental importance, which aside from being a high-level forum for studies related to peace, defense, and international security, acts in these fields, strengthening ties of friendship and cooperation, and shaping common perceptions about security and defense in the Ibero-American geopolitical realm,” he said.
Following the opening speeches, the banner of the Ibero-American Defense Colleges Association, carried by a military man wearing the historical uniform of Brazil’s Emperor’s Battalion, was transferred between the conference hosts. The transfer of the banner did not take place in the two previous editions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the theme of this year’s conference.
Lt. Gen. Katibe gave the first lecture titled “The role of the military in support of state health policies in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned.” During the course of the conference, other countries also presented their perspectives on the same topic.
COVID-19 under discussion
Ecuadorian Army Colonel Luis Lara Tapia, commandant of the Joint Military Defense Academy, said that among the lessons his country learned from the pandemic is to keep up military planning of a contingency plan to face future health emergencies. U.S. representatives Professor Mirlis Reyes, PhD., and U.S. Army major General James Taylor, director of the Inter-American Defense College, made a presentation on armed forces preparedness for the challenges posed by possible future pandemics, considered an asymmetric threat from the U.S. viewpoint.
On September 1, the representatives of the 10 participating countries headed to Brasilia to visit the recently established Superior Defense College, whose commandant, Brazilian Navy Vice Admiral Paulo Renato Rohwer Santos also attended the CDCDIA. At the close of the event, on September 2, Guatemala was announced as the host of the Ibero-American Defense College Directors Conference in 2023.