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News | Oct. 26, 2020

Annual U.S.-Brazil army-to-army staff talks secure readiness, friendship

By Donald Sparks U.S. Army South Public Affairs

During World War II, after Brazil allowed the United States to place military bases on its territory, Germany and Italy retaliated and began attacking merchant ships from the South American nation.

Issuing a dare to the Brazilian military to enter the conflict, the German Reich proclaimed, “The Brazilians will go to war when the snake smokes.” In 1944, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, or BEF, arrived to Italy and fought with the U.S. Fifth Army, beginning a deep partnership between the two armies as part of the Italian Campaign.

More than 75 years later, the two armies strengthened their relationship at the conclusion of the weeklong U.S.-Brazil army-to-army staff talks, hosted by U.S. Army South at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Oct. 18-23. The U.S. Army has engaged in annual bilateral staff talks with the Brazilian Army beginning in 1984. This meeting marks the 36th time the two armies have met for staff talks.

“The Brazilian Army is one of our most valuable and strategic partners, not just in the Western Hemisphere, but globally,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel Walrath, commanding general, U.S. Army South. “Our relationship goes back to World War II when the ‘Smoking Cobras’ fought alongside U.S. Army Soldiers on the battlefields of Europe and continues to endure today. These staff talks have set the conditions to continue to grow that relationship into the future.”

The Army Staff Talks Program seeks to promote bilateral efforts in order to develop professional partnerships and increase interaction between partner nation armies. The engagements enhance army-to-army contacts and mutual understanding, providing the partner nation armies with insights concerning specific U.S. Army programs, areas of mutual interest, and supporting partner nation armies in areas of modernization or reform.

One of the major agreements between the two armies included the rotation of Brazil Army forces to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and for an element of U.S. Army forces to rotate to Brazil as part of a training exercise next year.

This will be the first time a South American Army will rotate through JRTC.

During the week, the Brazilian delegation traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to view mechanized armor vehicles of the 1st Cavalry Division and were briefed by representatives of the U.S. Army Futures Command in Austin. The delegation also received an informational brief at U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), the higher echelon command for the BEF in World War II.

Gen-Bda (Maj. Gen.) Otávio Rodrigues Miranda Filho, Brazil Army G5 International Affairs expressed the staff talks provided an opportunity for the partnership to grow despite the current pandemic.

“The objectives of these meetings were fully achieved. Our armies will benefit from mutual interests, interoperability and combined readiness of our forces,” Miranda Filho said. “It is satisfying to see our brothers in the U.S. forces share common goals in the defense of our strong democracies, commitment to regional and global peace and stability.”

At the closing ceremony, both generals praised each other’s army for the professionalism and friendship displayed throughout the staff talks.

“After this week, I can say that we are more than partners; we are true friends and brothers in arms,” Miranda Filho said.

Walrath shared the same sentiment.

“The strength of our partnership is based on true friendship – which we extended this week,” he said. “The brotherhood and common values that we share will enable us to continue working together to protect our way of life in our Western Hemisphere neighborhood.”