The Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym) signed a five-year exchange agreement with the United States Ground Force. The quinquennial plan, drafted through the Bilateral Staff Talks (CBEM, per its Portuguese acronym), established the activities between the two armies during this period. The agreement was established at the end of 2016 and will end with joint participation in Operation Culminating, expected to take place on U.S. soil in 2020, with a post-operation analysis in 2021.
According to reports from the Brazilian Army’s Social Communication Center (CCOMSEx), CBEMs are military diplomacy tools for the alliance between partner nations. “International understandings and commitments support the geopolitical needs of both countries’ interests,” CCOMSEx explained to Diálogo.
Major General Clarence K.K. Chinn, the commander of U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH), was in Brazil in March and expressed interest in expanding military cooperation between the Brazilian and U.S. armies, and emphasized the value of working together. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn about the Brazilian Army. However, the most important thing is the partnership. We have been partners since the Second World War, so it is an honor to hear the great things that Brazil has done regarding the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the important work it carried out during the World Cup and the Olympics,” Maj. Gen. Chinn stated, according to the EB website.
During Maj. Gen. Chinn’s visit, Lieutenant General William Georges Felippe Abrahão, EB’s fifth deputy Chief of Staff, highlighted the importance of the visit, and said that “the presence of the ARSOUTH commander in Brazil is a great opportunity to increase integration and coordination among military land forces.” According to reports from CCOMSEx, exchanges are already taking place. “Some examples include the combined operations Culminating, PANAMAX, and AMAZONLOG, the last of which is a large logistical exercise that will be conducted by EB. AMAZONLOG will take place in November in Tabatinga, in the state of Amazonas, and at least 10 countries – including the United States – will participate,” the CCOMSEX report stated.
EB also stated that the institution has achieved a level of capability recognized internationally as a modern military force capable of carrying out substantial responsibilities and of eliciting the interest of other countries. “The partnership between Brazil and the United States shows the U.S. Army’s confidence in, and respect for, EB and indicates a trend of expanding new agreements for multidisciplinary military cooperation with future participation in other combined exercises.”
Multinational PANAMAX exercise initiated the exchange
The partnership between the two armies began with the Multinational PANAMAX Exercise, held August 12th to 16th. According to information from CCOMSEx, 14 EB service personnel participated in the operation, which aimed to simulate a protection scheme for the Panama Canal. The operation was created 14 years ago by U.S. Southern Command, and the governments of Panama and Chile.
The exercise includes 25 countries on the American and European continents and focuses on the security of the Panama Canal and its surrounding areas. “During the operation, joint, combined, and interagency operations are conducted, with the end goal of ensuring that an integrated response to a variety of transnational threats is in place. PANAMAX is recognized as the largest war simulation exercise in the South Atlantic and the Caribbean,” CCOMSEx said in a statement.
In 2018, Brazilian participation in the operation will be expanded, CCOMSEx explained. “For the first time, maneuvers will be performed in Brazilian territory by the Ground Forces Coalition Component Command, and we intend to keep the participation of two generals but expand the 14-soldier force to 20,” it stated.
Operation Culminating will involve 470 Brazilian service personnel
Following the conclusion of PANAMAX, the preparation period for the combined exercise between the EB and the U.S. Army, called Operation Culminating, is set to begin. It will be conducted by a U.S. Army brigade at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, Louisiana, in the second half of 2020. The exercise will symbolize the end of the five-year exchange plan between the two armies.
According to CCOMSEx, special preparations will be underway in the next few years ahead of Culminating, such as training of observer, controller, and assessor (OCA, per its Portuguese acronym) officers and sergeants and specific training for troops. In September, Brazilian soldiers will travel to Fort Polk for the Fourth Coordination Meeting at JRTC. The goal will be to spell out the assessment process and Operation Culminating’s logistical and preparatory challenges.
The Brazilian troops that will participate in Operation Culminating will consist of personnel from the 12th Light Infantry Brigade and from the Paratrooper Infantry Brigade. In addition, an OCA team and liaison officer team from the U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, will also participate. The third company will be a U.S. Army infantry subunit. The exercise will bring together approximately 470 Brazilian soldiers. According to information from CCOMSEx, it will be the most complex exercise with EB participation in U.S. territory.
For EB, Culminating is an unparalleled opportunity to foster closer cooperation and to exchange theories. Furthermore, the institution emphasizes the operational importance of JRTC, a main training center for active and reserve U.S. military forces. “It’s the place where troops are trained, including the Marine Corps, the Army, special police and national security services, and even Special Forces,” CCOMSEx explained to Diálogo. Fort Polk has a large number of sensors and the capability of monitoring all stages of training, as well as specific equipment for actions and challenges that a military force could encounter during a real deployment. “The goal is to push and test the troops to the max, exposing them to continuous physical and mental pressure with constant changes in the operating environment,” according to the information.
Benefits of the partnership
For EB, combined operations are excellent vehicles for disseminating professional skills to the members of the ground force, in addition to being a transparent exercise in Brazilian military diplomacy. These activities also combine to strengthen hemispheric security, which is one of the primary objectives of the Brazilian Military Defense Policy.
“Brazilian and U.S. service personnel can expand partnerships for exchanging defense products from both armies and for planning and executing maneuvers in the areas of logistics, intelligence, communications, cybernetics, and command and control,” said CCOMSEx. One of the benefits of the combined exercises is the ability to train the EB to send an expeditionary force during a joint operation, something which requires an extraordinary effort from ground forces that use practically all their combat functions.
Another advantage is the exchange of knowledge, which contributes to the refinement of theory and thereby to EB’s capacity for interoperability while carrying out its missions. It is advantageous for the experiences lived by officials and soldiers while undertaking their operational, technical, and tactical activities to be captured, not only in the preparation but also in the use of these operations and that the rest of the members of the ground force acquire the knowledge,” CCOMSEx stated.