In late April 2018, Brazil hosted the 20th Meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA, in Portuguese) of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP, in Portuguese). The event, held April 23rd–27th in Salvador, Bahia, in northeast Brazil, brought together more than 40 participants at the Brazilian Air Force Military Convention Center and Lodgings.
The annual CEMGFA—member countries take turns hosting the event—functions as a decision-making and monitoring organization for defense-related tasks within the community. Military leaders from Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé e Príncipe, and Timor-Leste took part in the event.
According to Brazilian Navy Admiral Ademir Sobrinho, head of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, the forum allows countries to interact and build confidence. Initiatives and procedures to prepare and deploy troops, as well as other defense issues within CPLP are addressed during the meeting. “CPLP established itself as an important catalyst for cooperation between member countries and is positioned to make significant contributions to boost confidence, prevent conflicts, build peace, and bring international stability, to the extent that it will become a source of inspiration for other multilateral forums,” Adm. Ademir said.
Despite the geographic distance, Brazil feels strong ties to all CPLP countries, the officer said. “This is not only because we all share Portuguese as our native language but also because of the strong friendship and cultural ties that we maintain,” Adm. Ademir said. “Humanitarian assistance programs, peacekeeping operations, military health, armed forces exercise development at both the national and international levels are strengthened through this exchange, which ensures integration and interoperability are all reinforced at these annual meetings,” he said.
Portuguese Navy Admiral António Manuel Fernandes da Silva Ribeiro, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, highlighted the importance of the alliance between CPLP countries to face similar issues. “This forum is essential to reflect on defense issues and exchange opinions on strategic concerns,” Adm. Silva Ribeiro said at the event.
The event addressed the advantages of the Course on International Armed Conflict Law, held at the War College in Brasília, and the need to create an inventory of military capabilities for natural and man-made disasters that could be used in support of CPLP, among other themes. The inventory would help CPLP members better understand the operational capacity of each member country, enabling faster response in the event humanitarian support is requested.
Featuring Exercise Felino
The 2018 CEMGFA meeting also set the schedule for Exercise Felino. The combined joint special task force aims to provide integrated military training for CPLP member country service members on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions. The yearly operation alternates from two different formats: tabletop exercise (EC, in Portuguese) and ground forces (FT, in Portuguese).
Felino 2017-2018 took place in Brazil at the end of 2017 with the participation of more than 1,500 service members. Angola is confirmed as host the exercise in 2019 in the FT format, and Guinea-Bissau will host the 2020 exercise in the EC format. Exercise Felino will take place in Portugal in 2021 in the FT format. During the meeting, CEMGFA supported a proposal to have a military health component integrated into the exercise.
According to Adm. Ademir, Felino exercises are important to share experiences and knowledge and also provide an opportunity to standardize and improve each country’s procedures. “Our goal is to have a combined CPLP task force prepared for any UN peacekeeping or humanitarian aid mission,” he said.
“The Brazilian Armed Forces benefit greatly from participating in this combined activity that welcomes countries to share their experiences, each with a different strategic standpoint since they’re scattered across different continents. The Felino Exercise also allows each country to broaden areas of interest, which opens up opportunities for new partnerships and the technological development of our defense industry,” Adm. Ademir added.
The 21st CEMGFA/CPLP Meeting will take place in Cabo Verde, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Public Affairs Office. The meeting is scheduled for early April 2019.