Staff On September 6, 2010, then-Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim appointed General José Carlos de Nardi as the first chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces. The position was aligned with the new National Defense Strategy and was created after the Ministry of Defense’s reorganization.
The new position is hierarchically equivalent to the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, but has oversight for joint activities. This means that Gen. De Nardi is responsible for deploying the Armed Forces on joint exercises, while it is the commanders’ responsibility to train each of their respective forces.
In March 2011, during his first visit to the U.S. Southern Command since he took on his new role, Gen. De Nardi spoke with Diálogo.
Diálogo: How do you see the participation of the Brazilian Armed Forces in actions such as the retaking of some of the shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro?
General José Carlos de Nardi: The Armed Forces’ participation in retaking slums in Rio de Janeiro is provided for in the Federal Constitution, in Article 142: to secure law and order. In keeping with recommendations, their use in activities of this kind should occur episodically and in a restricted and predetermined area. This is precisely the context in which federal troops are acting in underprivileged communities in Rio de Janeiro.
Diálogo: What is a key factor for the success of the Armed Forces’ support for the police?
Gen. De Nardi: In Brazil there is a constitutional mandate to secure law and order, within predetermined parameters of time and space, without the Armed Forces taking on police functions. In other words, keeping their focus chiefly on homeland defense, the fundamental role of any armed force. In Brazil, police activity is limited to the country’s public-safety agencies. Along the border, the Armed Forces assume police powers only to support actions that may have to be carried out in fulfillment of their constitutional mission, and not in order to replace other public-safety actors operating in the same area.
Diálogo: How can Brazil help other countries in the region to coordinate military and police operations, in regard to partnership in the fight against drug trafficking?
Gen. De Nardi: There is no concept of cooperation among the Armed Forces of South America on matters of a police nature. What is in place is the possibility for the Armed Forces to act along the border, in constitutional situations and without trying to replace other public safety agencies. The approach to issues linked to drug trafficking is directly linked to the Ministry of Justice. Integration of the South American nations via an international cooperation plan that aggregates police technology and intensifies intelligence actions is the model that will be sought for the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime between Brazil and neighboring countries.
Diálogo: What is the situation in the countries where Brazil has a peacekeeping presence, such as Haiti and now Lebanon?
Gen. De Nardi: Initially, it is important to emphasize that Brazil only acts with peacekeeping forces and not with peace-imposing forces, in observance of the provisions of the Federal Constitution and always under the aegis of international organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The situation in these countries, according to the U.N., requires stronger support from the international community, which is being provided through the presence of peace forces, including Brazilian forces.
Diálogo: Why is it important for Brazil to participate in contingents like the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)? What is Brazil’s role as a regional and international power, and how do the Armed Forces contribute to this?
Gen. De Nardi: Participating in contingents like MINUSTAH plays an important role in increasing troop training and participation of the Armed Forces in peace operations, thus joining U.N. peace forces or those of regional multilateral organizations. Fulfilling international commitments is a valuable instrument of foreign policy, which positively projects Brazil’s image on the international scene. Aside from these aspects, it can also be considered a demonstration of dedication and responsibility in contributing to preserving world peace and security, reinforcing the principles of multilateralism and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
I would also emphasize the important aspect of relating and integrating with Armed Forces of other countries. Brazil understands that because of its role as a regional power, its participation as a member in the joint and regional efforts of all the South American countries is much more important. In this way, it is seeking to establish itself in a higher regional position in several aspects, among which is its relationship to the defense of the subcontinent.
Diálogo: What is going to be the participation of the Brazilian Armed Forces in events such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games, in terms of VIP security in the streets, stadiums, etc.?
Gen. De Nardi: The Brazilian Armed Forces will participate as an integral element in a larger context in which various other actors will be equally involved. Their use in security activities will be strictly within the anticipated constitutional and legal limits, seeking to collaborate in the success of all the events mentioned. The experience already acquired through participation in large events like the 2007 Pan-American Games will serve as an important base for the activities carried out. The participation of the Armed Forces in both events, however, will still be a subject to be decided by the Brazilian government in future agreements on the matter.