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NEWS | Aug. 1, 2017

Brazil, U.S. reach agreement at army-to-army staff talks

By ARSOUTH BRAZIL U.S. Army South Public Affairs

Army South and Brazilian delegates reached consensus on 43 agreed-to-actions, or ATAs, during army-to-army staff talks in Brasilia, Brazil July 26. The ATAs, which include opportunities to work together and improve readiness through training,  exercises and other exchanges, take place in fiscal year 2018.


Months earlier, multiple work groups involving staffs from both countries precede the three days of executive talks which conclude with senior leaders from the two armies signing a bilateral engagement plan.


As the Army Service Component Command for U.S. Southern Command, Army South conducts staff talks in South and Central America. Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, Army South commander, signed on behalf of U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley.


“The staff talks are a great teambuilding event that strengthens our relationships and trust—but more importantly helps us each learn more about how we can work together to address emerging challenges in the region, hemisphere and globally,” Chinn said during the opening ceremony.


The general said he was confident the constructive dialogue would provide a strategic framework tied to a five-year vision of increased interoperability between the two nation’s armies.


Lt. Gen. William A.F. Abrahao, Brazilian army deputy chief of staff, led his delegation on behalf of Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Villas Boas, and he highlighted the historical relationship the allies have had since World War II, when 25 thousand Brazilians crossed the Atlantic to fight side-by-side with the U.S. He also pointed out similarities.


“We were born as colonies and expanded into the West to become continental countries. Our soldiers have the same values and seek the same objectives,” Abrahao said.


Several of the ATAs focused on the military personnel exchange program described by the Brazilians as “maybe the most important and oldest.”


As South America’s largest country for both land mass and population, Brazil sends nearly three times more military members to work alongside or attend academics than to its second largest, neighboring Argentina.


These staff talks generated eight new positions for Brazilian soldiers including added liaison officer slots at several infantry and sustainment commands and a research laboratory, an NCO position to one of the Army’s eight centers of excellence and instructors to military schools. 


While Brazil holds staff talks with 18 other nations, it was the first country with which Army South began staff talks in 1984. Others were added and Army South currently holds staff talks with the armies of Colombia, Chile, Peru and El Salvador and has liaison officers working in its headquarters from each of those countries, except El Salvador.


A small group of delegates briefly broke away from the staff talks to visit Cyber Defense Command, co-located in the army headquarters. Considered a joint operation with army, air force and navy leadership, it was established in 2015 and activated in 2016 and plays a part in the country’s national defense strategy.


“You can say cyber crosses every domain of war,” said Maj. Walbery Nogueira, a cyber joint staff officer during a briefing to the group. He said cyber is considered a new military capability and while the Brazilian army develops all defense department cyber doctrine, “everyone works together to coordinate cyber mobilization of cyber capabilities.”


On July 25, a handful of delegates visited Special Operations Command in Goiania, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the capital city where staff talks were being held.


There, Chinn and his staff spoke to Col. Rene Durao, deputy commander of Brazil Army Special Operations Command, who explained the unit’s inception decades ago. He said in 1956, infantry paratrooper Maj. Gilberto Antonio Azevedo Silva took what he learned from U.S. training at Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Benning, Ga. and devised the first special operations course where all involved were both students and instructors at the same time, according to Durao.


During a short discussion on the different sections within the command, army leaders from both countries agreed a subject matter expert exchange on CBRN – chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear – could prove beneficial to both armies. Durao said his unit focuses on exchanges believing them to be the best way to learn and improve and said these types of engagements helped with recent events like last year’s Olympic and Paralympic games.


With the overview complete and questions answered, delegates watched several dynamic demonstrations by the special operators including a rapid response action force securing a building and wind tunnel training by paratroopers.