RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – In a show of international cooperation and a commitment to enhancing military partnership and capabilities, the Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais do Brasil (Brazilian Marine Corps) recently hosted an annual planning conference with representatives from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South Oct. 23 - 27. The Operational Naval Infantry Committee brought together, senior leaders, planning officers and enlisted members from both nations to discuss future strategies, personnel exchanges, and bi-lateral training exercises.
The conference, held in the city of Rio de Janeiro, marks a significant step towards bolstering the collaboration between two of the Americas' most prominent military forces. Officials from both sides lauded the initiative, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a robust and unified front in an increasingly complex global security landscape.
Additionally, the ONIC creates a key forum for leaders and planners from the two Marine Corps to discuss and reaffirm mutual security objectives and plan future security cooperation engagements. Building off previous year’s events, the planners solidified the bi-lateral training schedules for the next two years and set a path forward on engagements over the next five years. Since both Marine Corps specialize in amphibious operations, continued and strengthened partnership will bolster both nations’ capabilities in this aspect.
Contra-almirante fuzileiro naval (Brazilian Marine Corps brigadier general) Roberto Lemos, commanding general of Doctrine Command, opened the conference with an address highlighting the historic cooperation between the two naval infantry forces. He stated, "The Brazilian Naval Infantry and the United States Marine Corps have a long-standing friendship rooted in mutual respect and shared values. This conference represents our commitment to enhancing our capabilities, increasing interoperability, and strengthening our partnership to meet the evolving security challenges of our time.”
The ONIC focused on how the two Marine Corps can work together to increase interoperability, strengthen the partnership, and achieve force readiness at the same time. During the scheduled events, planners also had in depth discussions about the U.S. Marine Corps Force Design initiative, Brazil’s ground and maritime initiatives, as well as emerging naval concepts that will directly impact both forces.
This upcoming year alone, both Marine Corps plan on conducting at least nine exchanges and training events as well as three larger scale bi-lateral exercises such as Exercise Formosa and Jungle Warfare Training, and the amphibious operation Exercise Dragão in Brazil. Both countries also participate in the multi-national exercise UNITAS every year, which will take place in Chile in 2024.
“Credible amphibious forces are needed now more than ever for maritime nations,” said the deputy commander for Marine Forces South, Col. Omar J. Randall. “Both U.S. and Brazilian Marines excel in specialized amphibious operations, and strengthening our long-standing partnership will improve our forces’ capabilities."
The conference featured in-depth discussions on a wide range of topics, including joint training exercises, operational planning, intelligence sharing, and the development of specialized equipment, specifically the U.S. Marine Corps’ “Force Design” concept and how it has shaped the current force. The Brazilian Naval Infantry and the U.S. Marine Corps also explored ways to address emerging threats, such as cyber warfare and non-conventional operations.
Throughout the five-day conference, Randall held discussions with multiple Brazilian Marine Corps leaders and visited multiple units, including Brazilian Marine Corps’ Amphibious Divisions, Armored Vehicle Division, Human Performance Division and Infantry Battalions. The participants engaged in discussions, scenario-based exercises, and practical demonstrations of various military capabilities. The joint planning sessions fostered a better understanding of how the two forces can work together seamlessly in a variety of scenarios, from humanitarian missions to peacekeeping operations and combat missions.
“This is about fostering and binding relationships through the entire planning process and execution of our training,” said Lemos. “We share the same desire to innovate and be ready for current and future operations in real world events.”
The conference also touched upon topics related to international security and the broader implications of their cooperation. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to regional stability, as well as their dedication to the principles of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
Brazil’s unique location and vast coastline lends to their “Blue Amazon” strategy which is a layered approach to Brazil's maritime responsibilities including military, economic, and environmental aspects. This concept was a focal point of the discussions during the ONIC and has particular importance to the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps who serve as the country's maritime force to ensure the integrity of Brazil's waters as well as protection to the overall sovereignty of the South Atlantic Ocean. Their maritime security cooperation helps guarantee free and fair global trade. Due to the role Brazil plays in and across the Atlantic, representatives from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa were present at the ONIC to discuss security and partnerships in that region and to look for opportunities to support each other’s efforts. Also present were members of the U.S. Consulate Rio de Janeiro’s Security Cooperation Office.
“As the [U.S.] Marine Corps transitions some of its infantry units to Marine Littoral Regiments, we demonstrate our desire for free and fair trade by sea,” said Randall. “We are very interested in how Brazilians conduct riverine and littoral operations, such as for their Blue Amazon concept.”
Leveraging their expertise not only in maritime operations, an additional discussion point throughout the event was future exchange opportunities. Last year, the U.S. Marine Corps started an enduring plan to send forces to train alongside their Brazilian counterparts in one of the most complex jungle environments in the world, the Amazon. With a focus on exchanging best practices and enhancing jungle skills, the U.S. Marines are reciprocating the opportunity with plans to bring Brazilian Marines to the United States annually for a major combined arms live-fire exercise; the ONIC provided the perfect venue to advance these exchange plans.
The ONIC not only highlights the significance of the partnership between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Brazilian Naval Infantry but also reinforces their role as key players in safeguarding maritime security in the Americas and beyond.
As the conference drew to a close, the two commanders, Randall and Lemos, exchanged signed documents outlining their shared vision for future collaborations and cooperative efforts. Both leaders expressed optimism for the future of this partnership, emphasizing the mutual benefits that would result from closer cooperation and strategic planning.
The ONIC serves as a testament to the strength and unity of the Brazilian Naval Infantry and the United States Marine Corps, and it signals a promising future for the two forces as they work together to address evolving security challenges and protect common interests in an ever-changing world.
“We are grateful to have friends like you,” said Randall to the Brazilian Marines. “It is an honor and pleasure to work alongside you and I look forward to the success of these staff talks ."