The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces (EMCFA, per its Portuguese acronym) coordinated Operation Feline 2017, held September 18th–29th, 2017, in the city of Resende, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The joint training of armed forces that make up the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP, per its Portuguese acronym) is a combined military training event for joint operations in peacekeeping and humanitarian aid missions.
Operation Feline, which the United Nations (UN) oversees, brought together about 1,600 service members, including 60 foreign officers and advisors. Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, Saint Thomas, Sao Tome and Principe, and Timor-Leste participated in the exercise.
Operation Feline 2017 fully met its objective said Brazilian Marine Corps Colonel Walter Marinho de Carvalho Sobrinho, chief of Supplemental Operations section for EMCFA. “It was an instrument for integration among the various nations’ armed forces, to meet and strengthen our bonds of friendship and stimulate new interests that might become the focus of cooperation and development for all participants,” he said.
For Col. Marinho, the participation of Brazil, with a leading role in the international stage, boosts CPLP. “Brazil’s participation in Operation Feline brings the forum new opportunities for cooperation and different perspectives to approach a military situation, as well as strengthens the group through Brazil’s standing in the international community,” Col. Marinho said. “Brazil affords other nations a broader perspective of the international scene, given its strategic location in South America,” he added.
Various situations were simulated during Operation Feline. “Troops began the exercise in an unfavorable climate of distrust by the population and had to neutralize an enemy that wanted to control that population through violence. From there, the job was all about isolating and capturing the violent leaders, taking the village, and protecting the population,” Col. Marinho explained.
Toward the end, the exercise simulated a natural disaster. In this scenario, troops trained on rapid response to rescue and aid the population. “A complex set of coordinated operations to pacify the area and minimize the disaster’s effects on the population was required,” Col. Marinho said. He added that integrated planning activities were carried out among all elements of the general staff, such as logistics, intelligence, naval, land, and air operations, in compliance with humanitarian law and UN regulations.
Brazil—in charge of the entire exercise infrastructure—provisioned troops according to plans established by member nation officers of the Joint Combined Task Force (FTCC, per its Portuguese acronym). “The Brazilian Navy (MB, per its Portuguese acronym), the Brazilian Army, and the Brazilian Air Force used different assets in the mock exercises, such as ships, helicopters, drones, armored vehicles, and special operations detachments, among others,” Col. Marinho said.
Brazilian Navy participation
Brazilian Marine Corps Captain Bruno Lopes Pena was among MB’s 200 service members who participated in Operation Feline. He stressed the importance of the exercise to train troops for peacekeeping missions. “It was my first time in [Operation] Feline, but as I was a member of the Brazilian Marine Corps Operations Group in MINUSTAH in Haiti, in 2012, I relived and reexamined some of my experiences in that country,” he stated.
Capt. Pena recalled that during the operation, his team was put on a schedule for patrols, convoy escort, reconnaissance, resupply, sieges, area searches, and riot control operations. “During these exercises, we encountered simulated military problems; for example, engaging an enemy force, vehicle collisions, public disturbances, troop injuries, and wounded enemy or civilians, among others,” he said.
The Navy deployed the Marine Operation Groups (GptOpFuzNav, per its Portuguese acronym) to join the FTCC’s naval component of the participating nations. MB personnel included service members from ground combat, amphibious command, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear combat teams, as well as support from 10 heavy and six light armored vehicles.
According to Brazilian Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Luis Felippe Valentini da Silva, commander of the 3rd Marine Infantry Battalion—the Paissandu Battalion—Operation Feline was conducted along the same lines of an exercise the Fleet Marine Squad (FFE, per its Portuguese acronym) carried out. “It’s an exercise that explores the Marine Corps’ expeditionary capacity, the capacity of our operational groups in peacekeeping missions that supplements the FFE’s training and reaffirms our operational readiness for future operational scenarios,” Lt. Col. Valentini said.
The contact with civilians was one of the exercise’s main takeaways, said Capt. Pena. “This kind of operation leads us to be continually watchful of the rules of engagement to minimize collateral damage and protect human life,” he said. The exercise reinforced the need for a well-established command and control structure to summon troops in the area of operations.
Maintaining the efficiency of command and control was the most difficult part for Capt. Pena during the exercise. “In this kind of operation, the speed with which events unfold on the ground forces us to maintain the same pace to process and respond at the Peacekeeping Operations Center to keep up with events,” he said.
For Col. Marinho, the participation in an operation like Feline keeps Brazil engaged on the international scene and demonstrates the professional capacities of its Armed Forces and defense industry. “It shows that Brazil is able to defend its interests and sovereignty and work with other nations for global security.” The officer also noted that combined exercises allow for exchanging knowledge and methodologies and improving the use of military assets.