Armed Forces Prepare to Combat Terror Threat at Rio 2016 Olympics

Around 2,000 Brazilian service members have been training intensively to combat possible terrorist attacks during the Olympics, an event that expects to bring 300,000 tourists to Brazil.
Andrea Barretto Lemos | 29 December 2015

Brazilian Army, Navy, and Air Force Special Operations units participated in counter-terrorism training at the Special Operations Command’s headquarters in the city of Goiânia in November. [Photo: Paulo Henrique Freitas/MD]

While more than 10,500 athletes from around the world prepare themselves to participate at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, about 2,000 Brazilian service members have been training intensively to combat possible terrorist attacks during the event.

About 2,000 personnel from the Armed Forces will be dedicated exclusively to addressing terrorism during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the city of Rio de Janeiro and in five other Brazilian state capitals in 2016. [Photo: Paulo Henrique Freitas/MD]

The Armed Forces’ counter-terrorism measures that aim to protect the athletic delegations and the estimated 300,000 tourists who will attend Rio 2016 are being planned in line with the document “Risk Analysis,” which was produced by the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) and other domestic and foreign institutions, including the International Police Criminal Organization.

“Our personnel have a level of training that is highly specialized,” explained General Mauro Sinott Lopes, chief of the Brazilian Army’s Special Operations Command (COPESP) and the Joint Command for Preventing and Combating Terrorism. “We have already conducted a number of different training sessions this year – not only in joint environment of the Armed Forces, but also with other government agencies that contribute their skills to tackling terrorist threats.”

Counter-terrorism training

The most recent training session was held at COPESP’s headquarters in the city of Goiânia from November 8-14th. The session brought together Special Operations units from the Brazilian Navy, Army, and Air Force who used live ammunition during conflict simulations in an urban environment.

During one of the drills, 10 Troops stormed a room with cardboard targets inside, which Soldiers had to identify and take down following their superiors’ instructions. Brazil’s Federal Highway Police and National Public Security Force also participated in the exercise.

Security officials have planned the regulations that spell out how the Ministry of Defense and the ABIN will counter terrorism. “Now, we will move forward to determine what the regional needs are,” Gen. Sinott added.

General Mauro Sinott Lopes is the chief of the Joint Command for Preventing and Combating Terrorism, which includes members from the Brazilian Armed Forces' three branches and works alongside other security, defense, and intelligence agencies. [Photo: Paulo Henrique Freitas/MD]

A series of training programs, which will end in March, will be conducted at Olympic venues. The operations’ goal is to acclimate security personnel to each location’s environment. In addition, the Armed Forces will hold specific training sessions in March involving Navy and Army aircraft that will support counter-terrorism operations.

Nationwide framework

The Armed Forces are preparing to provide security for the 2016 Olympics in numerous geographic regions. In Rio de Janeiro, the Olympic Games’ facilities are distributed over four different areas in the city. In addition to Rio, five other state capitals will host Olympics soccer matches: Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador, and São Paulo.

All venues will have a Center for Integrated Tactical Control that will operate alongside professionals from security forces and public agencies that are assembled at Area Defense Commands. Troops will be prepared to counter a variety of attacks, such as chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear.

“All Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense units will be present at each Olympic venue to work in tandem with public security forces during rapid response actions,” Gen. Sinott said.

The Joint Command for Preventing and Combating Terrorism, led by Gen. Sinott, is the nerve center of this counter-terrorism framework. During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Joint Command will be temporarily headquartered at the Eastern Military Command (CML) in Rio de Janeiro. Using a communications device mounted atop the CML, security and defense personnel will be able to follow the developments of security plans that will be implemented during the Olympics.

In total, the Brazilian Armed Forces will have about 38,000 service members in place to conduct counter-terrorism measures and security patrols. They will also help monitor explosives, protect strategic structures, and guard against cyber-attacks. These personnel will also be assigned to act as a contingency force in support of security agencies and provide protection for the authorities.

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