a dubious role

Colt Third Model Dragoon Percussion Revolver, 1853.


For a revolution in military affairs.

Since the end of the dictatorship, the military has positioned itself as an entity above Brazilian society. The political world accepted this position, in a kind of tacit agreement, you do not carry out coups and we do not interfere in the internal life of the Armed Forces. Relations between the government and the military were limited to budgetary disputes – less funds with FHC and more with Lula, by the way – and vetoes of accountability during the dictatorship.

War, a matter too important to be left to the generals, according to Churchill, is not a matter of national life, much less of the progressive field. There was a start of discussion that went beyond the borders of the military corporations in the elaboration of the National Defense Strategy in 2008. But that was all. In the Temer government, the generals consolidated their absolute control over defense matters. The rest is history.

There is a need for a profound change in policy, organization, strategy, operational doctrine, and training of military personnel. In defeating fascism, some issues that must be debated.

Security and defense are different concepts, despite the need to think about security and defense in an integrated way. And public security is one of the aspects of security, which necessarily has other dimensions: environmental security, food security, energy security, information security, among others. The primary function of the armed forces is defense, aimed at external threats.

Therefore, it is necessary to put an end, once and for all, to the dubious role of the Armed Forces, raised by a crooked interpretation of the infamous Article 142 of the 88 Constitution. Its use in the country's internal affairs can only occur on occasions that are clearly defined, such as natural disasters, support to government agencies in times of crisis and subsidiary operations, such as air transport in the Amazon, for example. The employment of the Armed Forces cannot be a stop-gap for the incapacity of public security agencies.

The administrative police functions of the Navy, Army and Air Force must be transferred to other government bodies.

The creation of a uniformed, civilian, single-career Coast Guard must absorb the attributions of maritime police, waterway traffic safety and environmental protection currently exercised by the Navy.

Likewise, the process already underway, albeit slowly, of transferring control of civil aerospace traffic from the Air Force to an air navigation agency linked to the Ministry of Transport must be completed. One can also discuss the creation of an airport police, similar to the Coast Guard proposal.

Inspection of controlled products – weapons and explosives – must be transferred from the Army to a civil body to be created, with specialized civil engineers and technicians. The extinction of the General Inspectorate of the Military Police is urgent to rid the Army of public security responsibilities. This measure must be accompanied by a profound reorganization of state public security entities, in a discussion that must go hand in hand.

Valid for the three weapons, border control in its police character should no longer be a task of the Armed Forces. The gap would be filled by a Border Police, with a complete cycle and a single career, administrative in nature and uniformed. The Forces would exercise border control in terms of defense, preventing external threats.

By freeing the Army, Navy and Air Force from public security attributions, it is possible for the Forces to focus on solving defense issues. It should be assumed that defense matters are matters of the Brazilian State. Strengthening and expanding the role of the Ministry of Defense is essential.

In this reconfiguration of attributions and roles, there would be a clear division of tasks. The commanders of the singular forces - Army, Navy and Air Force - would be responsible for Preparation, namely, military education, training, evaluation and doctrine, health care and support for the military family, administration of personnel and military service, engineering, research and development , management of military employment material, budget, tenders, acquisitions and contracts, military culture and sports, and information technology. Many of these tasks can be shared, under the direction of the Ministry of Defense.

Employment would be the responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces. The current Land Operations Command (COTER), Aerospace Operations Command (COMAE) and Naval Operations Command (ComOpNav) would pass under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with command over land units, ships and operational aircraft. Military operations and immediate logistics would be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a result of the unified operational use, the intelligence centers of the singular forces must be unified into a single defense intelligence body, with defense functions, never internal security.

A debate that deserves to be deepened is the creation of a fourth singular force, which encompasses the cybernetic and electromagnetic dimensions of armed conflicts. This force, perhaps, does not even need to be militar strictu sensu.

Interoperability is the norm in today's conflicts. No single force survives combat without mutual operations. The unification of employment will lead to rationalization and savings of resources, in addition to minimizing corporatism and avoiding duplication of efforts.

Profound changes in the military career must be put into practice. The formation of a reserve, the employment of temporary military personnel and the enhancement of civilian Defense careers are fundamental for the integration of the military into governmental and social life in general. Combatant positions and functions should be provided to women and men without distinction, without discrimination of gender or sexual orientation.

New technologies and systems diluted the strict separation between officers and enlisted. Valuing the career of enlisted men, many with university education, will guide the restructuring of the military career, even leading to the end of the division between the careers of enlisted men and officers.

The promotion of general officers by the President of the Republic today is a mere formality. Choices are made internally corporis. The selection process should be expanded, increasing the role of the Ministry of Defense. The approval of names in the Senate, as with ambassadors, would be a way of publicizing and standardizing the criteria.

Military education cannot continue to produce officers with a strict barracks culture. Instead of graduating officers at the academies, a recruitment system can be created along with university graduates. Military graduation would become a two-year specialization in academies, for example.

These are just a few proposals for a broader debate. None of this will be valid if military issues are not debated by the population as a whole. And it is a preliminary matter to investigate and denounce the crimes of the dictatorship, under penalty of the Armed Forces carrying this stain throughout their history.

And for the new military doctrine, strategy and culture to gain materiality, it is necessary to carry out the development, manufacture and logistics of equipment for military use in Brazil, consolidating a true Industrial Defense Base, as a vector for the country's reindustrialization.

*Igor Grabois, an economist, is director of Grabois Olímpio Consultoria Política.


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