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Exército Brasileiro - Brazilian Army

As in most Latin American nations, the Brazilian Army has been the most influential of the services because of its size, deployment, and historical development. Not only did senior army generals occupy the presidency from 1964 until 1985, but most of the officers who held cabinet posts during that time were from the army. In 1997 the army totaled 200,000 members, and in 2012 190,000 troops.

The Brazilian Army fulfills its constitutional mandate and performs its attributions, during peace and war, under the guidance of the strategic concepts of flexibility and elasticity. Flexibility, on its turn, includes the strategic requirements of monitoring/control and mobility.

Flexibility is the capacity of using military forces with minimum pre-established rigidity and maximum adaptability to the circumstances when the employment of force is needed. During peace time, it means the versatility with which presence – or omnipresence – is replaced with the capacity to be present (mobility) under the light of information (monitoring/control). During war time, it requires the ability to maintain the enemies permanently imbalanced, surprising them by means of the dialectics of concentration and deconcentration of forces, and of the audacity with which the unexpected blow is fired.

Flexibility reduces the importance of the contrast between conventional conflict and non-conventional conflict: it demands for the conventional forces some of the attributes of non-conventional forces, and ratifies the supremacy of intelligence and imagination upon the mere accumulation of material and human resources. For this reason, it refuses the temptation of seeing high technology as an alternative to combat, assuming it as an element of reinforcement to the operational capacity. It insists in the role of surprise. It transforms uncertainty into solution, instead of facing it as a problem. It combines meditated defenses with devastating attacks.

Elasticity is the capacity to rapidly increase the dimensions of the military forces when the circumstances do require, mobilizing the country’s human and material resources in large-scale. Elasticity demands, therefore, the construction of a reserve force, which can be mobilized according to the circumstances. The last foundation of elasticity is the integration between the Armed Forces and the Nation. The unfolding of elasticity reports back to the section of this National Strategy of Defense that concerns the future of the Mandatory Military Service and of the national mobilization.

In order to be fully asserted, flexibility depends on elasticity. The potential of flexibility, for dissuasion and defense, would be severely limited if it were not possible, in case of need, to multiply the human and material resources of the Armed Forces. On the other hand, the way of interpreting and effectuating the imperative of elasticity unveils the more radical unfolding of flexibility. Elasticity is flexibility translated into the engagement of the whole Nation for its own defense.

Considering the short conscript tour (usually nine to ten months), the army has a high number of conscripts: by 2013 Brazil's army had nearly 200,000 personnel in uniform, and 70,000 conscripts serving in the Army. Because of the need for literate and skilled young men to handle modern weapons, the army has served as a training ground for a large reserve force. Its highly professional officer corps serves as a nucleus around which the trained service would be mobilized if required.

The noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps is not well developed. NCOs have virtually no autonomy or authority. Emphasis on training and professional development is for officers only. The NCOs account for slightly more than one-third of the total army strength. About half of the NCOs are sergeants, who serve as command links between officers and ranks. Some also serve as middle-level technicians.

Brazil's army has strict up-or-out retirement rules, which were developed in the mid-1960s by President Castelo Branco. The internal command structure determines all promotions through the rank of colonel. The president is involved in the promotions to general and chooses one candidate from a list of three names presented to him by the High Command. Once passed over, the colonel must retire. All colonels must retire at age fifty-nine; and all four-star generals must retire at age sixty-six, or after twelve years as general.

Despite the up-or-out system, under President Sarney the army became top-heavy as generals began to occupy many positions that previously had been reserved for colonels. In 1991 there were fifteen four-star, forty three-star, and 110 two-star generals. The figure for four-star generals did not include four who were ministers in the Superior Military Court (Superior Tribunal Militar--STM). Thus, in the mid-1990s the army sought to reduce the number of active-duty generals.

In the early 1990s, the army began to undergo a generational change. The generals of the early 1990s had been junior officers in the early 1960s and had witnessed the military coup in 1964. Their worldview was shaped and influenced by the anticommunism of that time. These generals were being replaced by colonels who had entered the army in the early 1970s and whose view of the world had been shaped less by ideology and more by pragmatism. The United States, particularly through its counterinsurgency doctrines of the early 1960s, was more influential with the older group of officers.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2013 17:44:37 ZULU