The Brazilian Navy is a step closer to completing preparations for exercise UNITAS Amphibious 2018/2019. The Final Planning Conference for the multinational training took place at the Brazilian Navy Fleet Marine Squad’s (FFE, in Portuguese) Command in Rio de Janeiro, May 23rd-25th. Forty service members from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the United States, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, and Mexico attended.
The objective of the meeting was to fine-tune details of the tabletop exercise, held August 19-24, 2018, at the FFE headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, counting with the participation of the 10 countries. The exercise will be a simulated, combined humanitarian relief operation in response to an environmental disaster. The training will serve as final preparation for the live exercise in August 2019.
According to Brazilian Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Dirlei Donizette Côdo, head of FFE Operations, during the exercise troops will face logistics and operational problems to verify the adequate use of navies from each participating country. “Participants will use maps from the areas of operation. Deployments will be evaluated based on capabilities, possibilities, and limitations, to gather required data for live application,” said Lt. Col. Dirlei. “The simulation enables the setting of forces and resources, and the typical coordination of a multinational exercise.”
FFE and the Navy Fleet Command started planning for UNITAS Amphibious 2018/2019 in September 2017. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, FFE commander, said the planning allows for progressive preparation and approval of documents to guide the exercise. “Each phase reaches different training objectives, with its development scheduled according to desired results,” he said.
Combined amphibious operations
Launched in 1960, UNITAS is the oldest multinational maritime exercise that the U.S. Navy organizes. The amphibious version, which takes place since 2008, was designed to improve partner nations’ interoperability and capacity to conduct combined amphibious operations.
Brazil will host UNITAS Amphibious in September 2019, bringing together about 1,200 Brazilian and foreign service members, with vessels, aircraft, and marine corps operational groups. The 10 participating countries of the Final Planning Conference and the tabletop exercise also showed interest in taking part in the live exercise.
“We expect the participation of amphibious ships and various aircraft, as well as marine troops,” said Lt. Col. Dirlei. “During the exercise a task force will be formed to carry out humanitarian aid operations.”
For Lt. Gen. Zuccaro, one of the challenges of hosting an exercise as complex as UNITAS Amphibious is to adapt to the planning of multinational task forces with systems as diverse as the troops. “The tactical and operational characteristics that are particular to each navy must be overcome,” he said. Brazil hosted the exercise in 2015.
Participation in exercises such as UNITAS Amphibious is an opportunity to learn and establish contact with other forces, Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. “Combined international operations are a reality in today’s world. Contact with various navies increases our interoperability abroad. It’s also an opportunity to become familiar with the techniques and resources of other nations.”
Portugal joins in
For Portuguese Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Eduardo Fernandes Fonseca, commander of the Second Marine Corps Battalion, cooperation is of the utmost importance. “The financial and military capacities of nations are increasingly more limited and the operational performance in coalition environments is frequent, minimizing the impact on associated costs, risk, and even mission length,” he said.
The Portuguese Marine Corps will take part in UNITAS Amphibious for the first time. Two marines already confirmed participation to the tabletop exercise, and Portugal is considering sending a marine force to the live exercise in 2019. “It will be very important to have contact with the amphibious operational reality of most countries of the Americas,” said Lt. Col. Fonseca.
For the officer, the combined training exercise is the best way to consolidate operational growth, by comparing forces with different levels of experience. The exercise scenario is another plus. “Taking Portugal’s characteristics into account as a peninsular and insular country with the islands of Azores and Madeira—subject to natural disasters as happened in the past—makes operational training for humanitarian relief to disasters even more relevant,” said Lt. Col. Fonseca.