Brazilian Service Members Help Revise UN Infantry Battalion Manual

The United Nations’ workshop gathered officers with vast experience in peacekeeping missions to update the manual based on technological advancements.
Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo | 22 January 2019

Capacity Building

Brazil is among the countries that contribute the most troops to UN peacekeeping missions. (Brazilian Army)

Service members from the Brazilian Armed Forces took part in the United Nations’ (UN) fourth workshop to revise the Infantry Battalion Manual (UNIBAM) in Salvador, Brazil, November 5-9, 2018. The Brazilian Ministry of Defense Peacekeeping Operations Office coordinated the UNIBAM review committee session. UN representatives and member countries, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Finland, Holland, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the United States attended the workshop. A total of 19 participants took part in the review.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and UN Field Support launched UNIBAM in 2012 to improve the performance of peacekeeping military forces. The document describes standards, tasks, structures, requirements for equipment and self-evaluation tools for infantry components in peacekeeping operations to improve troops’ performance. Contributions from member states, former battalion commanders, peacekeeping maintenance trainees, training specialists, and others, contributed to the creation of the document.

The Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Public Affairs Office explained to Diálogo that revisions are done every five years to take technological advances and the many operational environments in which the UN troops operate into account. The workshop conducted in Brazil was the fourth and last of the initial UNIBAM revision. Two workshops were carried out in Bangladesh, in February and October 2018, and one in Nigeria, also in October 2018. The next step is to prepare UN troops’ training kits to be sent to peacekeeping training centers for countries to prepare their contingent based on the new doctrine.

Brazil was selected to contribute to UNIBAM’s revision due to its extended participation in UN peacekeeping missions. The country already participated in about 50 UN missions and led the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti for 13 years—one of the longest in history—with a participation of more than 37,000 service members.

“The opportunity to contribute to the manual revision is a result of Brazil’s excellent performance in peacekeeping missions. Our participation enables us to provide input in several chapters of the manual, increasing Brazil’s chances of joining future missions,” said General José Eduardo Pereira, deputy chief of the Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Joint Operations. “The organization of an event like this is our opportunity to share this capability with other countries. Brazil demonstrated its planning skills with events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Summer Olympics, and the Military World Games.” 

Phases leading to the release

UN and member countries’ representatives attended the fourth UNIBAM review committee. (Photo: Keven Kobalchini, Brazilian Ministry of Defense)

UNIBAM’s revision started after working subgroups discussed the chapters. Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) Colonel Ulisses de Mesquita Gomes, head of the Political, Doctrine, and Training Division of DPKO’s Office of Military Affairs, which creates manuals and assembles training kits for UN troops, reviewed the suggestions.

Col. Ulisses competed for the job against 134 officers. He believes that his appointment was due, among other reasons, to EB’s careful selection and his training at the Brazilian Peace Operations Joint Training Center, based in Rio de Janeiro, where, since 2010, Brazilians and foreign service members train to participate in UN peacekeeping operations. “In addition to ongoing revisions, there are other revisions scheduled, such as aviation and engineering manuals and the creation of the infantry battalion commanders’ course, projects in which Brazil also participates,” said Col. Ulisses.

After the officer’s approval, the UN will analyze the suggestions and their adherence to existing rules. The UN will also compare them to the Cruz Report, a document created under EB Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, former Public Security secretary and commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Cruz Report seeks to reduce blue helmets’ death toll during peacekeeping missions. All members of peacekeeping missions will follow UNIBAM’s guidelines upon its release.​​​​​​​ 

Sharing experience

The workshop brought together officers with vast experience in peacekeeping missions, many of whom shared their experiences in the event. Brazilian Marine Corps Colonel Alexandre Mariano Feitosa, an officer who participated in the Haiti mission and served at DPKO in New York as head of mission planning in the Middle East, was among those.

“The manual’s revision meeting demonstrates Brazil’s respect and attention to the international scene, a result of Brazilian performance in peacekeeping operations,” said Col. Feitosa. “I’m proud to represent the Marine Corps, and the Brazilian Navy, in such relevant work.”

EB Lieutenant Colonel José Paulino Sobrinho Junior trained for peacekeeping missions in Kingston, Canada, before becoming an observer in the Western Sahara for two years. He commanded a deployment with 15 to 20 international service members and monitored the cease fire in the region. “I left the region feeling proud as I realized how valued Brazil is, mainly due to its contributions to world peace,” said Lt. Col. Paulino.

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