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Brazilian Navy Submarine Force Commander Talks about The Challenges of Regional Defense

Rear Admiral Oscar Moreira da Silva Filho, commander of Brazil’s Navy Submarine Force, participates in the III International Symposium on Security and Defense.
Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo | 9 November 2016

Transnational Threats

Speakers on the panel “Submarine Force: Current Power Projected into the Future.” From left to right: CF Lars Johst, commander of the First Submarine Squadron of the German Navy; Rear Adm. Oscar, commander of the Submarine Force of the Brazilian Navy; Rear Adm. Hugo Verán, commander of the Submarine Force of the Peruvian Navy; Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon, second commander of the Atlantic Submarine Force of the U.S. Navy; and Dr. William F. Bundy, professor at the U.S. Naval War College. (Photo: Brazilian Navy)

The concept of multidimensional security was the subject of the III International Symposium on Security and Defense, held by the Peruvian Navy in Lima from September 12–15.

Rear Admiral Oscar Moreira da Silva Filho, who commands the Brazilian Navy’s Submarine Force, participated in the event and took part in the panel “Submarine Force: Current Power Projected into the Future,” along with the commanders of submarine forces from Germany, the United States, and Peru.

“The world is undergoing constant changes in nations' interaction plans, in addition to a new defense reality that includes asymmetrical conflicts and transnational organized crime,” said Rear Adm. Oscar in an interview with Diálogo. “So beyond a security mentality that the majority of the lecturers considered primitive for their countries' development, [the concept of multidimensional security] was important for creating closer relationships in defense policies.”

Rear Admiral Oscar has held a number of positions throughout his career, including Chief of Staff of the Submarine Force Command, Deputy Chief for Naval Command and Control of Maritime Traffic, and Chief of the Department of the Brazilian Naval Commission in Europe. He was appointed Director of the Admiral Paulo Moreira Marine Research Institute in 2013.

Diálogo: What is the importance and the main conclusions of the III International Symposium on Security and Defense?

Rear Admiral Oscar Moreira da Silva Filho: As the subject of the symposium reveals, the event creates space for reflection and reexamination of the concept of multidimensional security. Considering the security actors in the Americas, more specifically in South America, which includes Brazil, I think that the importance of the symposium is to create a culture of continental security that encourages combined actions of similar forces in the fight against new threats that require sharing information between states. So the main conclusion is the search to combine the efforts of participating countries to present reasonable solutions to the subject of defense and security.

Diálogo: What is the context in which the Brazilian Navy finds itself today in matters of security and defense?

Rear Adm. Oscar: South America, being distant from the main global centers of tension, and free of nuclear weapons, is considered a relatively peaceful region. In addition, the process of democratic consolidation and regional integration tend to increase mutual trust and foster negotiated solutions to conflicts. Brazil, however, is a country with unique characteristics. Notable among them is the possibility of extending the limits of its continental shelf and exercising the jurisdictional right over economic resources in an area of close to 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles), in a vitally important region for the country, also known as the Blue Amazon. This huge area includes the pre-salt layer, where the country's largest petroleum and gas reserves lie, in addition to great potential for fishing, minerals, and other natural resources. The Brazilian Amazon region is the focus of international attention because of its great potential for mineral resources and biodiversity. The guarantee of state presence and the revitalizing of border security are made difficult by, among other factors, the low population density and long distances. Finally, globalization increases the economic interdependence of countries and, as a result, the movement of cargo. In Brazil, maritime transport is responsible for moving around 95 percent of foreign trade.

Diálogo: What are the main challenges posed by this scenario?

Rear Adm. Oscar: Within this context, and as a way to think about the relationship between the strategic tasks of denying use of the sea, control of maritime areas, and the projection of power, the Brazilian Navy will be guided by an unequal and combined development; the main challenge arising in matters of security and defense is the need to constitute a force and a naval strategy that integrates underwater, surface, and air components. This will let us enhance the flexibility that safeguards the priority goal of the maritime security strategy - deterrence – giving first priority to denying use of the sea to an enemy that approaches Brazil by sea.

To this end, Brazil will maintain and develop its capacity to design and build both conventionally powered and nuclear-powered submarines; will create ways to exercise control of maritime areas, focusing on strategic areas for maritime access to Brazil; will pay special attention to the design and building of multipurpose ships and aircraft carriers; will have smaller ships dedicated to patrolling the coast and the main navigable Brazilian rivers; will begin studies and preparations to establish a multiuse naval base in an appropriate place as close as possible to the mouth of the Amazon River, and will accelerate the work of setting up its conventional and nuclear-powered submarine bases.

Diálogo: The S-BR1 and S-BR2 submarines are built under the Submarine Development Program (PROSUB per its English acronym), which expects to build two other conventional diesel-electric submarines and one with nuclear power. Could you talk to us about the expected delivery of this equipment and the importance of PROSUB?

Rear Adm. Oscar: These submarines are expected to be delivered to the operating sector according to the following schedule: S-BR1 (second half of 2020), S-BR2 (second half of 2021), S-BR3 (second half of 2022), S-BR4 (second half of 2023), and the Nuclear-Powered Submarine SN-BR, in July 2027. PROSUB's importance is demonstrated by the subject’s inclusion in the National Defense Strategy, since this project contributes to some of the main national defense objectives. With the building of the S-BRs and the SN-BR, together with their support facilities, Brazil can more efficiently ensure the task of denying use of the sea, by having a high caliber naval submarine force composed of conventional and nuclear-powered submarines. Indirectly, but no less important, is the large amount of investment in research, human resources, and material necessary to develop the project; this also will result in the technological carryover to other national industry sectors, obtaining autonomy in indispensable technologies and, as a result, bringing benefits to society.

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