Brazilian Armed Forces Prepare for UNITAS Exercise

Divided in two phases in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic, the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise UNITAS is the longest running multinational maritime exercise in the Americas.
Andréa Barretto/Diálogo | 5 June 2019

Capacity Building

Service members take part in exercise UNITAS 2015, the last time Brazil hosted the event. (Photo: Brazilian Navy)

Brazil and Chile will host the 60th edition of the multinational maritime exercise UNITAS. The exercise, organized by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, began in 1960 and is the oldest of its kind in the Americas. Both nations have been part of UNITAS since its inception.

Since then, UNITAS has been carried out in two phases in the Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic to promote the combined activities of the multinational forces involved. In 2019, Chile is set to host UNITAS PAC, scheduled to take place along its shores, June 24–July 4. Brazil will then host UNITAS LANT in Atlantic waters, around the state of Rio de Janeiro, August 18–31.

About 3,500 service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal — which will make its debut at the exercise — and the United States will take part in UNITAS LANT.

The magnitude of the event and challenges associated with a multinational exercise require preparation. Final adjustments for UNITAS LANT are set for June at the Final Planning Conference.

Some activities have already kicked off. The Concept Development Conference and the Initial Planning Conference (IPC) were held in February and March to establish specific goals.

“The result was the signing of a memorandum of understanding, where country representatives committed to the subjects discussed: objectives, trainings, exchanges, participating units, and others,” said Rear Admiral João Alberto de Araujo Lampert, director of the Brazilian Navy’s (MB, in Portuguese) Social Communication Center.

MB’s Second Division Command led the meetings. The institution is assigned to conduct planning and execution of UNITAS LANT 2019. The institution will also command the multinational task force that will be established during the operation.

Representatives from MB, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) and confirmed participating countries — including the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the U.S. Coast Guard — attended the meetings.

A delegation of representatives from the Brazilian Navy and U.S. Marine Corps visit the 12th Wing, the Brazilian Air Force base that will host participating service members of UNITAS 2019. (Photo: Brazilian Air Force)

FAB Support

March’s IPC confirmed FAB’s participation in UNITAS through naval asset support. FAB will engage in combined operations with other participating forces, conducting antisubmarine, search and rescue, maritime patrol, and air reconnaissance activities.

Service members from FAB’s 11th and 12th Wing, based in Rio de Janeiro, will take part in the exercise. “The total crew will have about 50 service members. We will have about 30 additional service members directly involved with ground support activities,” said FAB Major Nícolas Gomes Moreira, an officer from Preparation Command’s operational preparation control division, a FAB body responsible for the training, evaluation, and doctrine of its operational units. The officer added that FAB will also deploy one P-3AM and two P-95M surveillance aircraft, and two H-36 helicopters, used for transportation and rescue missions.

The 12th Wing base will serve as headquarters for the crew and maintenance teams of aircraft assigned to missions. Seven MB representatives and two from USMC made up the delegation that inspected the facilities in February.

“The operational gain from participation in exercises with other nations is invaluable. Without a doubt, the exercise will improve amiable relationships and mutual cooperation between the nations and their armed forces,” said Maj. Moreira. 

UNITAS Amphibious

The 2019 edition of UNITAS LANT will take place at the same time as UNITAS Amphibious, which will carry out a humanitarian aid and disaster relief exercise through an amphibious operation. While UNITAS LANT will conduct air and sea missions, UNITAS Amphibious will carry out sea to land operations. The troops’ amphibious landing will be in Marambaia Island and in Rio de Janeiro, where MB has a training center.

During the mission, service members will face a fictitious scenario in a country devastated by a hurricane and earthquake, whose population was left homeless and without food or water. Participants will have to coordinate processes and methods and align communication to assist the people in need.

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