The Brazilian Armed Forces recently launched an initiative to improve security along the country’s borders.
On November 13, the Brazilian Army initiated the Integrated Border Monitoring System (Sisfron), which will help security forces detect illegal activities, such as drug trafficking and weapons smuggling, in border regions.
The launch ceremony for the pilot program was held by the Fourth Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados, a city in the Mato Grosso do Sul states which hosts one of the four operating centers. The other three will be at forts in the cities of Mundo Novo, Iguatemi, and Caracol.
“Sisfron seeks to strengthen the Army’s ability to act in the country’s border regions, an area of 1.2 million square kilometers. It is considered the largest border monitoring system in the world,” the Army’s Social Communications Center (CCOMSEx) reported.
A long-term investment
The technology is a long-term investment in the country’s border security, with an estimated cost of about $4.6 billion USD.
Sisfron will help security forces detect suspicious activities from distances up to 20 km. It’s a comprehensive system that includes sophisticated equipment to gather intelligence and conduct surveillance, information technology, and gear to conduct electronic warfare.
“The electronic warfare system will observe background electromagnetic radiation in a certain geographical area in order to then identify changes or anomalies indicating the occurrence of illegal activities,” CCOMSEx reported.
The pilot phase involves 68 communication antennas, an information highway (consisting of a digital connection for computer networks), radar units, electromagnetic sensors, tactical and satellite communication components, and command and control centers. In later phases the system will also use drones. The equipment is being installed by Savis, a company with the Embraer group, and is expected to be completely operational by 2021.
All of society will benefit
Sisfron will function in support of the Strategic Border Plan (PEF), created by President Dilma Rousseff in 2011 to reinforce the presence of the state security forces along Brazil’s land borders with 10 other countries or territories: Suriname, French Guiana, Guiana, Venezuela, Perú, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay.
The PEF includes Operation Ágata, led by the Ministry of Defense, and Operation Sentinela, coordinated by the Ministry of Justice.
In May 2014, Operation Ágata 8 mobilized 30,000 service members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to patrol the borders as part of preparations for the World Cup. The soldiers who participated in that initiative confiscated 40 tons of drugs, a record compared to previous operations, according to the Ministry of Defense. In Operation Ágata 7, prior to the 2013 Confederations Cup, security forces seized 19 tons of narcotics.
The benefits of Sisfron will extend beyond the border area.
“The system allows us to confront problems that reach large cities, such as drugs and weapons smuggling,” Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim said.
Sisfron will improve public safety in municipalities such as Dourados, in Mato Grosso do Sul, where violence has been increasing, according to Geraldo Resende, a federal representative who serves as the secretary general of the Mixed Parliamentary Front for Border Area Development.
“The ease with which traffickers currently co-opt our youth is one of the factors that contributes to the sense of impunity that violence creates,” Resende said after the launch ceremony, according to the website of the local newspaper O Progresso .
Sisfron will encourage cooperation between the military and police
Additionally, the surveillance system will also help promote greater interaction between the Armed Forces and law enforcement and intelligence services.
“Sisfron will allow inter-agency cooperation and a higher level of training and will contribute to creating employment and income,” said Gen. Juarez Aparecido de Paula Cunha, head of the Army’s Western Military Command.
Brazilian authorities estimate that the project will create approximately 1,000 jobs directly and 4,000 indirectly. Sisfron will also be used in training troops. The project could also lead to more joint operations with the security forces of neighboring countries.
“Sisfron was designed to be a tool for knowledge production and support for actions [of the Armed Forces]. It is geared not just towards the Brazilian Army but also towards helping inter-agency operations, and in the future it may lead to cooperation with neighboring countries,” CCOMSEx said.