The Marine Corps (FN, in Portuguese) of the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) has been taking part in security operations in the city of Rio de Janeiro since Brazilian authorities sanctioned the use of the Armed Forces in operations to guarantee law and order (GLO, in Portuguese) on July 28, 2017. FN intensified activities after the government ordered federal intervention in the state of Rio de Janeiro via Decree No. 9288, February 16, 2018.
In the past six month, the Fleet Marine Squad (FFE, in Portuguese) participated in more than 30 operations. According to FN Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, FFE commander, the participation of FN increased in unison with siege operations in Rio de Janeiro, which also last longer than those carried out in 2017.
With federal intervention, public safety management moved from the state to the federal level, with Brazilian Army General Walter Braga Netto, public safety federal intervenor in Rio de Janeiro, responding directly to the president. “The technical aspects of the operations are similar to that of prior GLOs conducted in other states,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said.
Following the intervention, authorities established an Intervention Joint Command comprised of officers from each service branch in the Eastern Military Command to conduct security operations, and coordinate and plan support operations for the National Public Security Plan. Within this context, MB assists Rio de Janeiro’s Public Security Secretariat, through a Marine Corps Operations Group (GptOpFuzNav, in Portuguese).
“FN activities make up just one piece of the puzzle that contribute to the success of the operation as a whole. We can offer our amphibious capability to the Joint Command, which is a great advantage when the area of operation is close to the sea,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said.
Currently, 300 FFE service members conduct daily patrols in the city within the most risky communities of the south side and in the Lins Complex of slums. FN also handles security on the main urban streets of Ilha do Fundão, near the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
A GptOpFuzNav was initially established to conduct various operations, such as perimeter security, assault, blockade, road clearance, and patrol. The increase in operations following federal intervention led to the creation of the Marine Corps Operations Group ARPOADOR-2018 to meet the needs of GLO’s operations.
FN Colonel Reinaldo Reis de Medeiros, commander of ARPOADOR-2018, said the number of service members vary with the type of operation. “Some more complex operations may have an average of 850 to 1,000 Navy members,” he said.
Maritime and ground operations
On August 29th, an operation brought together more than 2,500 members of the Armed Forces, and Federal, Military, and Civil Police at the Salgueiro Complex of the city of São Gonçalo, in Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area. According to the Intervention Joint Command, members of MB, the First Naval District, and the Federal Police took part in ground operations and carried out a naval blockade and siege at Guanabara Bay, a maritime area adjacent to operations on the ground.
“We estimate operations to directly and indirectly benefit about one million people, covering a land area of 32 square kilometers and a maritime area of 61 km². Two ships and 10 vessels, including an armored speedboat were used,” the Joint Command stated in a release.
MB’s capabilities and equipment favor activities in the maritime environment, Col. Medeiros said. “Most of the operations conducted to date were on land,” he added. The Armed Forces in Rio de Janeiro conducted show of force, perimeter control, and dynamic stabilization operations such as road clearance, assault, and lockdown, among others.
Nearly all of FFE equipment is available for security operations. Military motorcyclists of the Naval Battalion Police, known as scouts, also take part in the Rio operations. Patrol ships and rotary-wing aircraft of the Navy Fleet Command and Naval Operations Command also intervene when necessary.
For Col. Medeiros, conducting activities in an urban environment with civilians is one of the biggest challenges with the operation in Rio de Janeiro. “The concern with collateral damage to the population imposes certain considerations and limitations, especially when we face irregular adverse forces that take advantage of people’s proximity,” he said. “The population’s safety is a priority and requires adjustments, often significant, to the modus operandi of military forces.”
Careful preparation at the core of FN training ensures the safety of participating service members. Amphibious and riverside operations, limited use of force, including peacekeeping, GLO, non-combatant, and humanitarian evacuations are among the skills FN units count on.
For Lt. Gen. Zuccaro, the intervention in Rio de Janeiro is a great opportunity to put to the test knowledge and techniques gained in different trainings and exercises, while adjusting to the reality of GLO operations. “It enables FN to improve performance in this type of operation,” he said.
Authorities intend to keep up with operations until year-end, based on the Joint Command’s plan. “The marines are, by nature, an expeditionary troop always at the ready, which allows for immediate deployment to different types of environments and missions, anywhere, with the ability to adapt to various conditions,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro concluded.