military reform

Image: Elina Volkova


Summary of theses presented in the recently released book “What to do with the military”

The military failed in its primary mission. Despite Brazil having scientific and industrial capacity and having one of the largest Defense budgets in the world, the military cannot deny territorial, maritime, air and cyber space to the averagely prepared challenger.

Changes in the way of war, social dynamics and care for democracy impose a military reform. It is necessary to review the role, organization and culture of the Armed Forces because Brazil needs to be inserted in the international order with dignity and the new generations must be spared the exorbitances of the barracks.

Brazilians do not get involved in National Defense because they are unpatriotic, but because they are repeatedly given the idea that this public policy belongs exclusively to the military and also because they are scalded by State terrorism practiced by military commands.

Many admit that corporations should be subordinated to political power, but this is impossible due to the lack of a specialized civil body and an updated collection of studies. Brazil needs a National Defense University run by a civilian.

Society and the State must remove the military from the self-granted condition of apostle of patriotism and civility, which affronts citizenship, annuls the republican spirit, prepares tyranny and leaves Brazil defenseless.

The value of a soldier does not contain “all the hope that a people achieves”, as the Army song says. Military reform is necessary for the soldier to respect society.

The politician cannot recognize armed corporations as interlocutors. Soldiers are trained to obey and command, not to dialogue. Commanders need to be consulted on Defense, but its design and conduct is up to the politician.

There are too many generals and too many troops. The spatial distribution of personnel and equipment is wasteful and innocuous for the Defense.

It is necessary to review compulsory military service because the composition of the troop reproduces the inequality of the social structure: the poorest are reserved for lower hierarchical positions. Military service, as it is organized, reproduces the colonial legacy.

In-depth studies and planning are required for reviewing the military service, which implies resizing the size, structure, functioning of corporations and reviewing the military career.

Military reform should alleviate the castro's isolation. The “military family” is an outgrowth. It disturbs the cohesion of Brazilians. The military cannot remain on the margins of society. The constant displacements by the garrisons do not allow him to be socially integrated. Endogeny needs to be contained. Military colleges represent unnecessary expenses for the Defense. Teenagers should be socialized in civil facilities.

It is possible to print new directions for the ranks without institutional ruptures: it is up to them to be compatible with the Constitution. The military must respect the political pluralism that underlies the Republic. By demonizing the left, he tramples on the Charter and impoverishes the exchange of ideas. Reform must eliminate their dread of social and behavioral change.

Corporations are important for socioeconomic development. They must be equipped with national products. The proposal for a National Defense Policy that is being discussed in the National Congress proposes partnerships with powers that have advanced technology. It is the same harmful orientation that prevailed during the last century and that left the country unprotected.

There are no acceptable explanations for Brazil's high foreign dependence on war material. Armed Forces offices in the United States and Europe need to be dismantled. Subalternity to the powerful foreigner empties the rhetoric of territorial safety.

Without military reform, there will be no acceptable Public Security. It is necessary to distinguish the military from the police. Maintaining order and fighting crime are separate missions from fighting the hostile foreigner.

The idea of ​​fighting the “internal enemy” needs to be extinguished: it feeds the functional personality disorder of the military and the police. When the policeman acts as a military man and the military man as a policeman, society is defenseless and the potential foreign aggressor benefits.

The notion of the “enemy within” presupposes permanent civil war. Between enemies there is no generosity, but blind hatred. To admit the existence of this “enemy” is to exclude propensities for warm-up, tolerance and persuasion, fundamentals of the national community.

The military must be released from tasks that do not fit him. Replacements of law and order must be handed over to Public Security. The use of corporations to meet chronic demands suggests to society a misleading notion of the role of the military and prevents preparation for National Defense.

Whoever commands the state instruments of force, controls the state and society. The military's political activism was reinforced by the combined use of lethal and non-lethal instruments, configuring the "hybrid war", of which the "legal war" and the "informational maneuvers" are expedients.

The military cannot conduct Defense because land, air and sea forces do not understand each other regarding their roles. Disengagement is costly: it entails overlapping structures, particularly in teaching, research, medical care and the production of weapons and equipment.

In military hands, the formulation of the National Defense will be limited due to the political and ideological unity of the officers. This unity denies democracy, which is based on political pluralism. It is a form of institutional corruption.

Doctrinal unity is a necessity for the organization, preparation and use of the Forces, but ideological unity leaves the military in confrontation with society, whose cohesion involves the clash of ideas.

If the range of political and ideological convictions present in society is not reflected in corporations, its instrumental use by a political current will prevail.

The concept of “national power”, disseminated by the Pentagon and absorbed by the Brazilian military, keeps alive the ideology that guided the dictatorship. In the United States, this concept refers to the exercise of planetary command. In Brazil, it supports domestic authoritarianism.

It is up to the politician to deliberate without military pressure on military spending. Legislative advice on matters of Defense must be entrusted to the specialized civilian body.

It is necessary to suppress the co-option of public and private agents by the military through the granting of corporate medals.

Armed Forces propaganda in the media is harmful. When the military competes for popular sympathy, it is confused with the politician.

Social reforms are indispensable to a Defense that has national cohesion as its main beam. Income and opportunity disparities, as well as development inequalities between regions, make Brazil unprotected.

The Constitution orders social change, but corporations reject advances that contradict the purposes of their existence, condition their way of being and attack the ideological convictions of their members.

Combating the mythology of the “union of the three races”, which tries to cover up the extermination of original peoples and hides the inhumanity of slavery, is essential for a consistent Defense.

Seeing himself as the colonizer's heir, the soldier repels Tiradentes because he participated in his martyrdom. Proclaiming himself to be a pacifier of the slave-owning society, he declines the role of defender of nationality. Whoever loves the colonizer hates the homeland and sows discord because it feeds on it. Those who love the Brazilian people want everyone to be included.

A decisive step in military reform is reverence for Brazilian heroes. The exaltation of the State's brutality against society exposes the Armed Forces to disrepute. It makes no sense for the military to glorify repression while society reveres its victims.

Tiradentes must be the beacon of military reform. When the enfilado feels like an avenger of the martyr, the structuring base of the corporative changes will be constituted. The military's functional personality disorder is being conquered.

Brazil will not achieve sustainable economic development without embracing its neighbors. It will not achieve sanitary control or environmental protection. The protection of the Amazon will be a chimera. Illegalities at the borders will persist. The Brazilian Defense will be expensive and fragile. The subcontinent will skate in search of a promising future.

The cohesion of Brazilians, being the main beam of the National Defense, the friendship with the neighbors represents its first great support. The Brazilian military avoids South American integration so as not to displease Washington.

Despite Lula being in favor of South American integration, the National Defense Policy under analysis in Congress prioritizes strategic alliances with imperialist powers. The United States does not relinquish control of war material produced in the West. The search for cooperation with “more advanced nations” reveals the archaic foundations of National Defense.

Brazil is one of the few countries in a position to dissuade potential aggressors from building a solid bloc capable of imposing respect on the international board. Brazil needs to lead South American integration.

The military flees the discussion on National Defense. He calls for more public resources with inconsistent arguments. The country's territorial dimensions, the size of its population and its GDP are not reasons to swell ranks: the capacity of a military corporation can be inverse to its size. In the face of hypersonic missiles and stealthy drones, men prepared for hand-to-hand combat are worth little.

The premises of the Brazilian Army's planning, "agility", "strength" and "presence" are unsustainable and contrary to a consistent National Defense. Need to be revised.

"Agility" presupposes the monitoring of potential offenders, the use of combat aviation and missiles of great range and speed. The rapid deployment of troops would make sense in the face of a territorial occupation that is difficult to imagine, as it is superfluous and unreasonable.

If the occupation of part of the Brazilian territory is attempted, it would be made unfeasible by the interruption of the invader's air and sea transport. The “jungle” fighter formed by the Army conveys to taxpayers the impression of being capable of defending the Amazon, but essentially serves to combat dissatisfied Brazilians and feed misleading propaganda.

The “strength” premise is negated by the use of resources destined for Defense. If the Armed Forces intended to demonstrate “strength”, they would reduce their personnel expenses in favor of the autonomous production of weapons and advanced equipment.

As for the third premise, “presence”, many barracks and extensive ranks do not dissuade foreign aggressors. The military needs to arrive anywhere and at any time, but for that it needs to prioritize the Air Force.

As it holds a large territory and extensive sea, the Brazilian State should have fewer soldiers and a large air and naval capacity. The supremacy of the Land Force serves to combat the “internal enemy”, not to deter a hostile foreigner.

I hope my book What to do with the military (Reading Office) stimulate a debate that cannot be postponed.

* Manuel Domingos Neto is a retired UFC professor, former president of the Brazilian Defense Studies Association (ABED) and former vice president of CNPq.

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