Motivational. The word sums up the experience of two Brazilian Naval Academy students as they spent time alongside U.S. Marine Corps units in the United States.
The stellar performances of cadets Gabriel Torres da Silva and Yuri Henriques Silva, both in their last academic year at the Brazilian Naval Academy, earned them a trip to the United States’ East Coast. The cadets, who chose to pursue a career in the Brazilian Marine Corps (CFN, in Portuguese), spent five days with U.S. Marines, and visited the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, and the National Museum of the Marine Corps, among other institutions, August 27th-31st.
The exchange with the U.S. Marine Corps is a new initiative of the Brazilian Naval Academy, a higher education institution that prepares officers for entry level positions in the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese). The partnership began in 2017 and provides students with a new extracurricular opportunity with the hope that the experience will carry on and motivate future officers.
“We strive to reward the top ranks, as the Marine Corps values leadership development of their officers from the beginning of their careers. As such, meritocracy is the preferred criteria,” said CFN Colonel Luiggi Campany de Oliveira, head of the Brazilian Naval Academy’s doctrine department.
Washington, D.C. was the first stop on cadets Torres and Henriques’s itinerary. They visited the Brazilian Naval Commission and participated in a meeting addressing its organization, activities, and mission. In the U.S. capital, the young men also visited the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), an international military organization that develops collaborative approaches on military and defense matters in the Americas. Brazil is an IADB member nation since its 1942 inception.
The second stop was Annapolis, home to the U.S. Naval Academy. Two Marine Corps second lieutenants joined the Brazilian cadets to explain the organization, mission, activities, and selection process at the academy. “The knowledge exchange with these officers helped us compare newly graduated officers of both [the Brazilian and American] schools,” said Cadet Torres.
The cadets also attended a class taught by MB Lieutenant Commander Gustavo Cabral Thomé, who serves as a navigation instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. The schedule at Quantico, the last stop before heading back to Brazil, included visits to two U.S. Marine Corps’ educational institutions, the Marine Officer Candidates School and the Marine Corps University, in addition to the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
“The Marine Officer Candidates School serves as a foundation to prepare new officers by providing all necessary knowledge about the responsibilities of a platoon commander, among other tasks,” said Cadet Henriques. The Marine Corps University offers a curriculum for senior officers, similar to the General Staff Course for MB senior officers. The U.S. Marines showed the Brazilian cadets the facilities at both locations, introducing the concepts, methodology, and content all students learn at those institutions.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps left quite an impression on cadets Torres and Henriques. “This museum shows the evolution of the Marine Corps’ doctrine in a unique way. Those who sacrificed their lives for American ideals are remembered with honor,” said Cadet Torres.
The experience motivated both cadets who also gained new information and knowledge, and strengthened their English skills. “It was also a great opportunity to learn more about the use of one of the most respected forces worldwide, which is also a doctrinal source for the Brazilian Marine Corps,” said Cadet Henriques.
In December, Cadet Torres and Cadet Henriques will become midshipmen as they graduate from the Brazilian Naval Academy. In early 2019, the cadets will kick off the year-long post-school cycle at which time they will go through professional qualification stages until they take the midshipmen training trip. Upon concluding the trip, they will become Marine Corps second lieutenants, starting their careers at an MB operational unit of CFN.