On June 30th, the Brazilian Navy introduced the ground task force that will operate during the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in a ceremony at the Amphibious Division Command in the Ilha do Governador neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro’s the North Zone. The group consists of men from the Marine Force Fleet, who will now report to the Regional Defense Command (CDS) of Copacabana, a coordination agency of the Navy in charge of supporting federal, state, and local security forces in Rio’s South Zone and Port Zone during the Summer Olympics.
“We’ve been preparing since 2009 for the Olympic Games, both in terms of planning and the generic and specific training to meet the demands of the Games,” declared Vice Admiral Alexandre José Barreto de Mattos, commander of the Marine Force Fleet, to the servicemen who represented the task force at the ceremony. “You are prepared to complete this mission. You have undertaken exhaustive preparation over the past few months and years. I would like you all to know how important the Brazilian Navy is to the safety of the Olympics Games, and to maintaining our country’s reputation.”
The Navy’s Areas of Operation in the City
In order to implement and coordinate the work of the Armed Forces during the event, the Ministry of Defense created the Area Defense General Command (CGDA), which segmented the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan region, where the Games will take place, into four CDS: Copacabana, Deodoro, Maracanã, and Barra da Tijuca. The Navy has been tasked with the mission of coordinating CDS Copacabana, headquartered in the 1st Naval District, in Rio’s Port Zone, while the Army is responsible for the other three CDS.
The area under the Navy’s responsibility includes neighborhoods that go from São Conrado, in the South Zone, to Caju, in the Port Zone. These areas will host beach volleyball, the triathlon, road cycling, and marathon swimming in Copacabana; Olympic sailing at Marina da Glória; rowing and canoeing at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas; and part of the marathon at Aterro do Flamengo.
“CDS-Copacabana was organized into three main groups: the Ground Task Force, the Maritime Task Force, and CCTI Task Force, which means Integrated Tactical Coordination Center,” explained the Marine Corps Rear Admiral Cesar Lopes Loureiro, commander of the Amphibious Division, during a press conference after the ceremony. “The Maritime Task Force includes the Navy and Air Force which will perform their activities in the maritime region. The CCTI covers the special operations forces, the counterterrorism groups, and the specialized personnel who combat nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological threats.”
During the ceremony, the Brazilian Navy also introduced the CCTI, which includes Drug Enforcement Special Operations and an operational group of anti-aircraft defense Marines, reporting to the Brazilian Airspace Defense Command, which will take care of air safety at the Olympic Village, in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in Rio’s West Zone, where the athletes will be lodged. A part of the CCTI introduced at the event will be assigned to work in Salvador (state of Bahia), which, along with the cities of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, and Manaus, will host the Olympic Games’ soccer matches.
The Maritime Task Force, which will carry out defense procedures, patrolling, and inspection with the support of ships and helicopters across all of the city’s waters (coastline, sea, lagoons and the Guanabara Bay), will not be introduced until mid-July.
The Ground Task Force and the CCTI consist of nearly 3,000 Navy members working on CDS-Copacabana activities. The Marines will have the operational support of two Amphibious Armored Vehicles (CLAnf), nine armored Piranha vehicles, and 177 light and heavy vehicles, some of which were on display during the ceremony at the Amphibious Division Command.
Preparation and Expectation
Vice Admiral Leonardo Puntel, commander of the 1st Naval District and coordinator of CDS-Copacabana, emphasized the Military’s experience at previous large-scale events held in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, as an important factor for preparing and planning procedures for the Olympics.
“There are many challenges, though nothing that we aren’t prepared for. We are ready to coordinate this area, this perimeter, from São Conrado to Caju, and the maritime region. There was a lot of preparation, not just training, but real events as well,” Vice Adm. Puntel stated. “We have had several large events in recent years: The Pan American Games, the Military World Games, World Youth Day, among others. They have all enabled real-world preparation that involved all the security forces and the Armed Forces, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, working in conjunction with the Federal Police, the Rio de Janeiro State Military Police, the Civil Police, as well as the Municipal Guard.”
Vice Adm. Puntel stated that the ground task force, now under his command, will begin to ramp up security in the city starting on July 24th. The Marines will stand ready as a contingency force, prepared to act as necessary. Servicemen will also patrol CDS-Copacabana’s tunnels and expressways, in addition to escorting authorities.
Vice Adm. Barreto emphasized that an event like the Olympics relies on worldwide cooperation.
“There have been occasional training events held with other countries. An event of this scale is not just a concern for Brazil. Other countries also have an interest. One of the most important things in planning is to gather the most intelligence possible that can lead us to ask questions about what we could realistically face,” said Vice Adm. Barreto. “Especially since certain things that happen in the world are of interest to the world as a whole… so there is already an intelligence network in place, apart from the Olympics, that shares information related to these events. This sharing of information, training, forums, and discussions occur regularly.”
According to the Vice Adm. Barreto, the biggest legacy of the Military’s participation in the Olympics Games is the Armed Forces’ improved preparedness to act under any circumstances.
“Our preparation doesn’t end here. Over the course of the games, we will continue with our training and improve our readiness. New information and planning may be necessary,” said the Vice Adm. Barreto, said. “Whether in the event of a terrorist attack or threat, or any other possibility where our participation may be required, the population can rest assured that our men are extremely well prepared to face it.”