The Brazilian Armed Forces are in the midst of several major modernisation programmes. ESD had the opportunity to speak with General Edson Leal Pujol, Commander of the Brazilian Army.
ESD: The Army’s vehicle fleet is receiving significant resources for the modernisation of MBTs, the production of GUARANIs, the upgrade of all M113 variants, for 4×4 vehicles from IVECO, and so much more. What is the status of these programmes?
General Pujol: The Strategic Army Programme GUARANI aims at the mechanisation of the land forces, the transformation of the motorised infantry into a mechanised infantry and the modernisation of the mechanised cavalry. It is a strategic initiative based on research and development carried out by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Brazilian Defence Industry. In this sense, equipment and materials used on the platform for military operations are produced domestically, with more than 60% local content. This programme provides quality and technological progress through high-level technology transfer and qualification of personnel, which contributes to income and jobs. Currently, the programme has already delivered about 10% of the expected fleet.
The programme has been conceived in a way to be integrated with the other Army Strategic Programmes, particularly with the SISFRON, PROTEGER and anti-aircraft defence, besides enhancing integration with the other forces.
The first product to be engineered and delivered is the GUARANI 6×6 armoured transport vehicle to replace the URUTU vehicles manufactured by ENGESA, which have been used by the Brazilian Army for more than 40 years. The programme also provides for the purchase of other versions of the 6×6 vehicles.
The EE GUARANI programme also aims at the procurement of armoured 4×4 vehicles, incorporating modern weapon systems (with selective lethal capacity) and a flexible control and command system allowing their use in various conflict scenarios. The acquisition of these vehicles is the responsibility of the Manufacturing Directory and the contract for the purchase of a pilot batch will be signed later this year.
When it comes to modernising the other armoured vehicles, there are two more ongoing projects – one related to the VBC LEOPARD 1A5BR MBT and another to the VBTP M113 troop transporter. The first project is in its preliminary phase at the Army Doctrine Centre. The VBTP M113 is being investigated at the Maintenance Regional Park 5 (Curitiba/PR) and there are plans to upgrade the vehicle to the A2MK1 standard; 150 vehicles related to the first contract have already been modernised. Currently, a second contract is in place aiming to upgrade another 236 vehicles until the end of this year. Hence, only 196 armoured vehicles will be left awaiting a future modernisation.
ESD: The Brazilian Army has significant firepower that might even be considered offensive. Do you consider the Army to be an offensive or defensive force, and what are its main challenges?
General Pujol: The strongest branch of the Brazilian army is the Land Force (FTer), which is structured into “Grandes Comandos” and “Grandes Unidades”. With a different firepower in their operational levels. The Fter is prepared and trained to be used in Brazilian defence as an offensive or defensive force.
Since 2010, the Brazilian Army has been in a process of transformation in order to better fulfil its main task, which derives from our constitution – the defence of the country – bearing in mind the size and international weight of the country. The main challenges in achieving these goals are to increase the resources allocated to Fter modernisation in order to bring it into a better condition, as provided for in the National Defence Strategy, to increase budgetary stability and to address the technological challenges that will come with the new equipment and weapons that the FTer will have at its disposal after transformation.
ESD: When it comes to Army Aviation, while there are a number of programmes currently running or envisaged (BLACKHAWKs, HM-4s, SUPER PANTERAs, and so forth): is the Army able to bring enough force to bear quickly? Is there a sufficient strategic transport capacity?
General Pujol: In any operational environment the deployment of necessary force does not depend exclusively on the Army Aviation; it is a much broader concept that rests on a joint effort of Navy, Air Force and Army.
The National Defence Strategy states that the Army will utilise flexibility and elasticity to fulfil its constitutional duty. In response to your question, we will focus on flexibility – “the ability to deploy military forces with a minimum of fixing in advance and maximum adaptability to the circumstances of the deployment. In peacetime, this stands for the versatility of substituting presence (or even omnipresence) by the capability to become present (mobility) wherever required according to the information available (observation/control).”
When it comes to the long-range transport of large troops, which is a characteristic of strategic transport, it will always be necessary to have large aircraft, preferably fixed-wing aircraft, which are typically deployed by our Air Force. On the other hand, transporting smaller formations of troops to engage in tactical operations in the field will require smaller means of transport which are more flexible and more mobile. This is why we have Army Aviation, because it allows local commanders to “decisively explore an opportunity to quickly intervene in the manoeuvre and concentrate or disseminate the combat force, thereby significantly impacting the campaign.” This has dynamised the concept of the “nonlinear battlefield”.
The high mobility of Army Aviation, combined with the versatility of its means and the lethality of its weapon systems, allows operations to be conducted for the purpose of external defence and for domestic and territorial defence.
Today, Army Aviation can be used to provide the ground force with the air mobility and flexibility it is expected to provide in a tactical context. The Army Aviation Strategic Programme was introduced to adapt Army Aviation to the current and future requirements of Brazilian society as defined by END. With investments, the programme (among other objectives) aims to expand the infrastructure of Army Aviation, modernise its training and employment capacities, provide the Army with medium-sized aircraft to replace the existing and obsolete manoeuvre aircraft and increase the capability for immediate strategic response, command and control and logistical support, especially in the border region.
ESD: What do you think about the use of the Army to protect public safety, as happened in Rio de Janeiro in 2018, considering the limits guaranteed imposed by the “Guarantee of Law and Order” (GLO)?
General Pujol: The development of the global operational environment has gradually changed the balance of power between states. As a result, we have instabilities and uncertainties that fuel local and regional conflicts with roots dating back into the past, as well as the emergence of new actors, including non-state actors.
The technological revolution that the world has experienced has also changed the nature of conflicts and the way politics is conducted. States are therefore exposed to new threats. Technological change has transformed “conflicts of the industrial age” into “conflicts of the knowledge age”.
In this sense, military operations in environments regulated by GLO require a command and control structure (C²) that is fast and mobile, as well as the ability to enhance participants’ situational awareness and interoperability in these conflicts.
Under the Strategic Programme for the Protection of Armed Forces Society (PROTEGER), we are developing the prototype of a Mobile Operations Coordination Centre (CCOp Mv) in cooperation with Brasília University (UNB). This modern command and control system (SisC²) will be equipped with state-of-the-art communication technology and electronic devices that will enable transmission of voice, data and images to other command centres (CC²), including the MoD. In addition, its software architecture will enable integration and interoperability with other actors, improving its capacity and performance.
The CCOp Mv will consist of an Operation Coordination Team and Access Knots (NA). The first module will control the communication, conduct meetings and enable some secrecy of information. The second module will have the ability to be deployed in the operating theatre and to stabilise a communication network that will ensure the information flow required to complete the mission.
With regard to the deployment of the Army in Rio de Janeiro in 2018, which has been characterised by a wide range of operations and the need to establish C² with agencies and governmental and non-governmental organisations operating in the area, CCOp Mv will allow cooperation and coordination with these units´ activities in support of a “Grande Comando Operacional” (DE and/or Superior. In this way, the modular and mobile structure made it possible to set up C² in the shortest possible time and in areas without local communication resources.
The Brazilian Army´s mission can be found in Article 142 of our Federal Constitution, which states that the Armed Forces must contribute to the guarantee of national sovereignty, constitutional rights and law and order (GLO), the protection of national interests playing a part in national development and social prosperity. Hence, law and order measures belong to the duties of the Terrestrial Force. According to the doctrine, these operations are enlisted among Basic Operations/Operations of Coordination and Cooperation with Agencies. Nevertheless, it is common sence that the employment of the Army in this kind of operations as the GLO in Rio, conducted in the context of the Hurricane Operation, presuppose an exceptional situation and have to be conform to legal marks that define the limits of force employment.
ESD: In an ideal situation, what would you most like to be able to add to the Army’s resources?
General Pujol: In an ideal situation, the Army General Needs (NGE) would be fully satisfied and the government would approve the budget proposal. The Land Forces are aware that the best result would be to implement the following strategic priorities as defined in the Strategic Plan of the Brazilian Armee (PEEx): the re-equipping and restructuring the field artillery, re-equipping and restructuring the anti-aircraft artillery, mechanising the Land Forces and restructuring the armoured forces.
The interview was conducted by Roberto Carvalho.