Brazilian Army

Brazilian Army
Exército Brasileiro

The Brazilian Army's seal
Active 1822–present
Country  Brazil
Type Army
Size 219,663 active (2014)[1][2][3]
1,340,000 reserve (2014)[1]
Part of Ministry of Defence
Command Headquarters Brasília, DF
Patron Duke of Caxias
Motto(s) Braço Forte, Mão Amiga
(English: "Strong arm, friendly hand!")
Colors Olive Green     
March Canção do Exército  Play 
(English: "Song of the Army")
Mascot(s) Jaguar
Anniversaries August 25 (Soldier's Day)
April 19 (Brazilian Army Day)
Equipment 469 main battle tanks, 1,496 armored vehicles, 1,257 artillery pieces, 184 Self-propelled artillery, 156 SAM systems, ~20,000 Support vehicles, 90 helicopters

U.N. missions

Commander-in-Chief President Michel Temer
Commander General Eduardo Villas Bôas
Coat of arms

The Brazilian Army (Portuguese: Exército Brasileiro) is the land arm of the Brazilian Armed Forces. The Brazilian Army has fought in several international conflicts, mostly in South America during the 19th century. In the 20th century, it fought on the Allied side at World War I and World War II.[4] Aligned with Western Bloc, as ruler institution in Brazil from 1964 to 1985, it also had active participation in the Cold War, in Latin America and Southern Portuguese Africa,[5][6][7] as well as taking part in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide since the late 1950s.[8]

Domestically, besides having faced several rebellions throughout these two centuries, with support of local political and economic elites, it also ended the monarchy and imposed on the rest of society its political views and economic development projects during the periods (1889–94, 1930–50*, and 1964–85) that it ruled the country.[9][10]

* First Vargas period and Dutra years



Main Articles: 1st French-Portuguese colonial war, 2nd French-Portuguese colonial war, Sugar War, French raids (1710–11), Napoleonic Wars in South America and Possession Conflicts for Banda Oriental

Although the Brazilian Army was created during the process of the independence of Brazil from Portugal, in 1822, with the units of the Portuguese Army in Brazil that have remained loyal to Prince Dom Pedro, its origins can date back to Land Forces used by Portuguese in the colonial wars against French and Dutch, fought in 16th and 17th centuries.[11][12]

Monarchy (Imperial Army)

Main Articles: Brazilian Independence War, Confederation of the Equator, Cisplatine War, Ragamuffin War, Cabanagem Rebellion, Balaiada Revolt, Platine War, Uruguayan War, Paraguayan War, Naval Revolts, Federalist Rebellion and War of Canudos

During the Independence process, the Army was initially composed of Brazilians, Portuguese and foreign mercenaries. Most of its commanders were mercenaries and Portuguese officers loyal to Dom Pedro.[13] Along 1822 and 1823, the Brazilian Army was able to defeat the Portuguese resistance, especially in the North of country and in Cisplatina, having also avoid a fragmentation of the then new Brazilian Empire after its independence war.[14]

After won the Independence War, the Army supported by the National Guard (a paramilitary militia created in 1831 by the big owners of slave and land, known as "Colonels"), destroyed any separatist tendencies of the early years, enforcing central authority of the empire, during the Regency period in the country, repressing across Brazil a host of popular movements for political autonomy or against slavery and the colonels' power.[15]

Officers the Brazilian Imperial Army, 1865.
A Brazilian corporal of the 1st Battalion of Fatherland Volunteer Corps, heavy infantry, 1865.
Uniform Brazilian troops the Imperial Army in Paraguayan War, 1866.

During 1850s and early 1860s, the Army along with Navy, entered in action against Argentinian and Uruguayan forces, which opposed to Brazilian empire's interests. The Brazilian success with such "Gun Diplomacy", eventually lead to a shock of interests with another country with similar aspirations, the Paraguay in December, 1864.
On May 1, 1865, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina signed the Triple Alliance to defend themselves against aggression from Paraguay, which was ruled by the dictator Francisco López. López troops, after invading Brazilian territory through the state of Mato Grosso and the north of Argentina, were heading for the South of Brazil and North of Uruguay. Many slaves had been incorporated into the Brazilian forces to face the increasingly serious situation. As a result of their solid performance during the conflict, the Armed Forces developed a strong sense against slavery. After five years of a terrible warfare (the largest in South American history), the Alliance led by Brazil defeated Lopez.[16][17]

During this war, one of the biggest in history and the largest one occurred in South America, the Brazilian Imperial Army mobilized 200,000 men for the war, divided into the following categories: 18,000 Army personnel who were in Uruguay in 1864; 2,047 in the province of Mato Grosso; 56,000 Fatherland Volunteers; 62,000 National Guardsmen; 11,900 ex-slaves; and an additional 22,000 National Guardsmen who remained in Brazil to defend their homeland.[18]

High command of the Brazilian Imperial Army in 1885.

In November 1889, after a long attrition with the monarchical regime deepened by the abolition of slavery, the army imposes the republic through a coup d'état. The implementation of the 1st Brazilian civil-military dictatorship (that ended only in 1894), was followed by a severe economic crisis that deepened into an institutional one with Congress and the navy, which degenerates into a restricted civil war at southern region.[19]

20th century

Main Articles: Contestado War, Brazil in World War I, 1920s Lieutenants Revolts, Liberal Revolt of 1930, Constitutionalist Revolt, Brazil in World War II, Suez UN Peace Mission, Military Dictatorship (1964–85), Operation Powerpack and Araguaia guerrilla

Between 1893 and 1927, in the first Republican Period, the Army had to deal with various movements: some were derived from Navy and Army corps who were unsatisfied with the regime and clamoring for democratic changes, while others had popular origins without conventional political intentions guided by messianic leaders, like in Canudos and Contestado Wars.[20]

Brazilian Army officers, World War I.

During World War I the Brazilian government sent three small military groups to Europe soon after declaring war upon Central Powers in October 1917. The first two units were from the Army; one consisted of medical staff and the other of a sergeants-officers corps, and both were attached to the French Army in the Western Front in 1918.[21][22]

From October 1930 to 1945 the army and elites linked to it, by the second time took the control over the country, having the landowner and opposition political leader, Getúlio Vargas, ahead of movement. In this period, the Army defeated the Constitutionalist Revolt in 1932 and two separate coup d'état attempts: by Communists in November 1935 and by Fascists in May 1938. The Army also helped to formalize the dictatorship in 1937.[23][24][25]

A Company of the II Battalion of the 11th Infantry Regiment of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in World War II.

In August 1942, after German and Italian submarines sunk Brazilian merchant ships, popular mobilization forced the Brazilian government to declare war on Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. In July 1944, after almost two years of public pressure and negotiations with US authorities, a expeditionary force was sent to join the Allied forces in the Italian campaign. The part concerning of Army was composed by a full Infantry Division (about 25,000 men, replacements included), commanded by Major-General (later Marshal) João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais, which in Italy was attached to the US IV Corps at the US Fifth Army, into the 15th Allied Army Group.[26]

Badge of Brazilian Expeditionary Force.

With the defeat of right wing' totalitarian regimes in World War II, Vargas is removed by the head of the army, General Dutra, who in 1946 won the Election dispute against Air Marshall, Eduardo Gomes. After the Vargas suicide (who succeeded Dutra in 1950), due to an institutional crisis, army sectors led by Marshal Lott, ensured the inauguration of Juscelino Kubitschek's Term, elected in 1955.[27]

With the resignation of Jânio Quadros, who succeeded Kubitschek, a new institutional crisis opens up, exacerbated by the Cold War context, and in late March-early April 1964, the Brazilian Army (then led by General Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco) seized power through its third coup d'état, inaugurating another dictatorial period, which lasted 21 years.[28]
This coup was the first of a series of coups d'état in South America that replaced democratically elected governments with military regimes. These dictatorships dominated South America until the 1980s. In this period the Brazilian Army employed harsh means to suppress militant dissident groups: changing the law, restricting political rights, after harassing and pursuing dissidents; and militarily, with support of police forces and militias, proceeding with methods of counter-guerrilla and counter-insurgency warfare to defeat the guerrilla movements that tried to combat the regime by force. The urban guerrillas were active in Brazil between 1968 and 1971 while in the rural areas the 2 main movements subdued by the Army were respectively, one in the region where are today the Caparaó National Park (1967) and the other one in the region of Araguaya River (1972–74).[29][30]

Internationally, in 1965 the Brazilian Army joined forces with US Marines intervening in the Dominican Republic, in Operation Powerpack. During the 1970s strengthened interchange and cooperative ties with armies from other South American countries giving and receiving advisement about counter-guerrilla and counter-insurgency methods, as for example in the Operation Condor, a procedural coordination to find, capture and eliminate political dissidents in mainland. From Geisel period, the third Brazilian military dictatorship sought greater independence in its foreign policy, leaving of automatically align with the US interests, especially in relation to sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East.[31][32][33][34]

In the mid 1970s, despite the dissent annulled (by elimination, detention or exile), the leftist guerrillas defeated and the legal opposition tamed, repression was not reduced. This added to the vices and the wear and tear of years of dictatorial power, plus the effects of the then oil/energy crisis and the Latin American default, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, led to increasing social pressures for democracy, which slowly but steadily forced the army to return to its professional activities.[35]

21st century

Haitian civilians receive assistance in a camp set up by the Brazilian Army in 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Main Articles: East Timor UN Peace Mission, UN Angola 3rd Verification Mission and UN Haiti Stabilization Mission
Paratroopers during patrols in action Rio de Janeiro Security Crisis.

Since the late 1950s it has taken part in some United Nations peacekeeping missions as for example: in Suez 1956–67, East Timor 1999–2004, Angola 1995–1997 and Haiti since 2004, being the latest, the most recent outside intervention in that nation, as well as the longest length operation in the history of Brazilian military outside the country.

In the great earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010, eighteen Brazilian soldiers died. The Brazilian Army has now about 1.250 troops in Haiti and will send 900 more until March 2010, to help the reconstruction of that country.

The Brazilian Army is trying to renew its equipment and making a redistribution of its barracks in all the Brazilian Regions, prioritizing the Amazon. After the promulgation of Brazilian National Defense Strategy, in December 2008, the Brazilian Government appears to be interested in the Armed Forces modernization.

In 2010, during the Rio de Janeiro Security Crisis, the Brazilian Army sent 800 paratroopers to combat drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro. Following the invasion, approximately 2,000 Army soldiers were sent to occupy the Complexo do Alemão.

MONUSCO Force Commander, Gen. Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz during an observation mission on UN Intervention Brigade as FARDC conduct an attack on M23 rebel positions in Kanyaruchinya near Goma, July 15, 2013.
A Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper walks with Haitian children during a patrol in Cité Soleil.
Brazilian Army peacekeeping soldier in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

In 2014, the 2,050 Army troops stormed into a Rio de Janeiro slum Maré complex with armoured personnel carriers and helicopters in a bid to improve security two months before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[36] Due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup the Brazilian Army offers more than 50,000 men for security at the event, is the largest military manpower employed in the security of a FIFA World Cup.[37]

In February 2016, the Brazilian federal government has mobilized 60% of the Armed Forces, or about 220,000 soldiers (these more than 140,000 troops of the Brazilian Army), to go "house to house" in the battle against Zika virus outbreak.[38]

In July 2016, Brazilian Army provided more than 21,000 soldiers, 28 army helicopters and 70 armoured vehicles to ensure the security of the Rio de Janeiro city during 2016 Summer Olympics. Another 20,000 soldiers be on duty in the five cities that will co-host the Rio 2016 Olympic football tournament: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo.[39] 14,800 Army soldiers in the city of Rio de Janeiro to act during the Olympic Games.[40]

The Brazilian Army is creating an Expeditionary Force (F EXPD) to provide permanent support for the country’s participation in foreign missions. Armed Forces officials expect the F EXPD to respond rapidly, by itself or in cooperation with security forces from partner nations, to safeguard national interests and perform a wide spectrum of operations such as humanitarian actions and peacekeeping missions. It will comply with provisions of Chapter 1 of the White Paper on National Defense, which was published in 2012 and covers the functions and actions of the country’s defense forces. With the goal of deploying the force by 2022.[41]

The Expeditionary Force (F EXPD) is initially expected to be made up of one Battalion, with 1,000 Soldiers, in its first year of operation in 2022. In the last phase, scheduled for 2030, it’s expected to evolve into a Brigade, with 3,000 Troops that would add increased capacities, such as Infantry, fire support, and logistics. The F EXPD will also utilize armored vehicles to increase its operational capacity and performance possibilities.[42]

Notable battles of timeline

Main Article: List of wars involving Brazil

Colonial era:

The two Battles of Guararapes (1648–1649) are considered an important milestone as origin for a Brazilian Army.


Advance of Brazilian Army to Paysandú, 1865.
Brazilian Army men during the siege of Paysandu, 1865.
The Marquis of Caxias leads in person the Brazilian Army during the Battle of Ytororó, 1866.
The 26th Fatherland Volunteer Corps in anti-guerrilla operations in Paraguayan territory, 1866.
Confrontation between Brazilian (blue) and Paraguayan (red) forces. Battle of Avay, 1868


Army soldiers during the siege of Bage in Federalist war, 1893.
Brazilian Army battery during the Battle of Guanabara Bay in 1894.
Army soldiers fight the melee with rebellious sailors in the Battle of Armação, in Niterói (9 February 1894).
The 40th Infantry Battalion and the attrition warfare during the hard to campaign in Canudos, 1897.
Brazilian Expeditionary Force liberating the Italian city of Massarosa, end of September, 1944.
Generals Otto Fretter-Pico (Wehrmacht) and Mario Carloni (Italian Fascist Army) surrender to Brazilian troops during the Battle of Collecchio in April 1945.

Notable figures



Hunter Infantry. Fighters are specialists in precision shooting Army, which generally operates on double occupancy and are responsible for ambush and unsettle the enemy troops.

The Brazilian Army had a recorded personnel strength of 219,585 active personnel in 2014.[2] Another estimate by the IISS in 2014 put that figure at 190,000 active personnel, with 70,000 of those being conscripts.[1] In addition there were approximately 1,340,000 reserve personnel in 2014.[1] This figure was down from 1,800,000 reserve personnel in 2008.[43] In principle, the Brazilian Constitution designates the 400,000-strong Brazilian Military Police as a reserve force of the Army, although in practice they remain separate entities.


Youngs presenting to recruit the Brazilian Army, in 2014.

According to Article 143 of the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, military service is mandatory for men, but conscientious objection is allowed. Women and clergymen are exempt from compulsory military service. At the year that they complete age eighteen, men are required to register for the draft and are expected to serve when they reach age nineteen. About 95 percent of those registering receive deferments. A growing number of recruits are volunteers, accounting for about two-thirds of the total. Those who serve generally spend one year of regular enlistment at an army garrison near their home. Some are allowed nine-month service terms but are expected to complete high school at the same time. These are called "Tiros de Guerra" or "shooting schools", which are for high school boys in medium-sized interior towns, run by Army senior NCO, First Sergeants or Sublieutenants, and rarely a Second Lieutenant. In Brazilian Armed Forces, First Sergeants may be promoted to the Officers Rank, as Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain, becoming part of the Auxiliary Officers Corps. The army is the only service with a large number of conscripts; the navy and air force have very few.

The conscript system is primarily a means of providing basic military training to a sizable group of young men who then return to civilian life and are retained on the reserve rolls until age forty-five. The army recognizes that it provides a public service by teaching large numbers of conscripts basic skills that can be valuable to the overall economy when the young men return to civilian life.

Officer Recruitment

Field basic period of training sergeants.

Because the only entry into the regular officer corps is the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras – Military Academy of the Black Needles (AMAN), its records provide an accurate picture of the officer corps. In the decades following World War II, cadets from middle-class families increased, while those from upper-class and unskilled lower-class families declined. The total number of applicants also declined as a result of economic development diversification, which gave high school graduates more attractive options than entering the military. Increasingly, AMAN cadets came from among the graduates of the army-supported Military Schools, which sons of military personnel attended tuition free. Many of these students were sons of NCOs whose own origins were not middle class, so a form of intra-institutional, upward mobility existed.

The trend in the 1960s to recruit from civilian sources has abated. The mental, health, and physical aptitude tests excluded large numbers of civilian school graduates: in 1977 of 1,145 civilians attempting the tests, only thirty-four, or 3 percent, were admitted. In 1985 only 174, or 11 percent, of the AMAN's 1,555 cadets were graduates of civilian schools; the rest were from the army's Military School system, the Cadet Preparatory School (Escola Preparatória de Cadetes—EPC), or air force or navy secondary schools. In the early 1990s, AMAN cadets were drawn exclusively from those who had completed the EPC. By the mid-1990s, the AMAN's cadet population was about 3,000.

In the twentieth century, the officer corps has been composed predominantly of men from the Southeast and South of Brazil, where military units and greater educational opportunities have been concentrated. In 1901–02 the Northeast contributed 38 percent of students at the army's preparatory school in Realengo, whereas in 1982 it provided only 13 percent to the preparatory school in Campinas. In the same years, the Southeast supplied 40.4 percent and 77 percent, while the South gave 8.6 percent and 6.3 percent. Although São Paulo, according to Alfred Stepan and other observers, has not been noted for sending its young men into the officer corps, its contribution increased from 4.3 percent of students in 1901–02 to 33.5 percent in 1982. Regional origins of cadets at the AMAN were fairly consistent in the 1964–85 period. By far the largest contingent came from the state and city of Rio de Janeiro.

Although social theorists might be pleased with indications that the army is serving as a vehicle for social mobility, army leaders are concerned. Officers have remarked on the trend toward lower-class recruitment in the Training Center for Reserve Officers (Centro de Preparação de Oficiais da Reserva—CPOR) and the problems associated with such officers. In a 1986 interview, the former minister of army, General Leônidas Pires Gonçalves, observed that he did not want officers who would give only five or ten years to the army; he wanted individuals with a military vocation, who would stay for a full thirty-plus-year career. Many officers have expressed concern that those seeking to use the army to improve their status are not sufficiently dedicated to the institution. Indeed, some officers seek the earliest possible retirement in order to get a second job (second salary) to make ends meet.

Women in the Army

Women did not participate in Brazil's armed forces until the early 1980s. The Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into the permanent and career ranks. In 1992, for example, 2,700 women out of 5,000 candidates competed for 136 positions within the Officer's Complementary Corps (Quadro Complementar de Oficiais—QCO).

To begin a career with the army, women must have completed a bachelor's degree in areas such as law, computer science, economics, or accounting. The competition is national in scope, and no applicant may be more than thirty-six years of age. Those accepted into the program study at the Army's School of Complementary Formation (former Army's School of Administration) in Salvador, beginning as first lieutenants (reserve). The School of Complementary Formation is also open to men. At the end of the one-year course, the graduate is promoted to first lieutenant in the permanent ranks.

Organization, formations and structure

Structure of the Brazilian Army

High Command

Brazilian Army headquarters in Brasília.

Military Commands

The Army is structured into eight military commands. Each of the eight military commands is responsible for one or more military regions.

Military Regions (Divisions)

The Brazilian territory is further divided into twelve military regions. Each military region has the duty of offering logistical support to the Army Divisions (Divisões de Exército), which are those whose role is more operational and linked to the combat itself. Therefore, Military Regions are usually composed of units responsible for providing administration, logistics, transport, health and education as well as anything else the Army Divisions require. On the other hand, the Army Divisions are composed by operational, front line units who will actually fight. Both Army Divisions and Military Regions are Division-sized units, commanded by Lieutenant Generals (Generais de Divisão). Those are the current Military Regions:

1st Army Division in Rio de Janeiro, 1943.
Troops of the 2nd Army Division in São Paulo state, 2016.
3rd Army Division soldiers in combat training in southern Brazil.

Main units


Strategic Mobile Action Forces

Airmobile Infantry Brigade

Airmobile infantry training.
Troops aeromobiles.

The 12th Aeromobile Brigade is a major elite unit of the Brazilian Army. Headquartered in Caçapava in São Paulo. Its operation area covers the whole country. It is under the 2nd Army Division / Southeastern Military Command, based in São Paulo.

It is organized, equipped and trained for rapid-response missions at any point of the country. They can move by air using business jets and civilian aircraft, but their primary means of transportation are the Brazilian Air Force's rotorcraft, from the Command Army Aviation, usually based near their barracks. By performing their main function, the airborne assault, the Airmobile Brigade constitutes an effective, permanently available instrument of strategic reach, being an integral unit of the Strategic Task Force (Força de Ação Rápida Estratégica) of the Brazilian Army.[44]

Army Aviation Brigade

Panther armed assault helicopter in Brazilian Army.
Brazilian army aviation Black Hawk in Amazon region.

The Army Aviation Command, also known as Ricardo Kirk Brigade, is a brigade of the Brazilian Army, located in Taubaté and linked to the Land Operations Command and the Southeastern Military Command. Its historical name is a reference to Captain Ricardo Kirk, pioneer of military aviation in Brazil, killed in battle in the Contestado War.

The task of the Brazilian Army Aviation Command is to provide organic airmobility and support the ground forces by providing tactical air support, close air support and reconnaissance.[44]

Law and Order Operations Brigade

Law and order troops.

The 11th Infantry Brigade is one of the brigades operating in the Brazilian Army. Its headquarters is located in Campinas, São Paulo.

This infantry brigade is specialized in operations in urban terrain, being able to act in cases of severe instability or danger to public order. The brigade is used in Brazil often in actions against organized crime and drug trafficking, especially in large urban centers.

It is trained to operate both in case of riots and in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking, when the local law enforcement agencies are unable to do so by themselves. Recently it has operated alongside other elite Army forces in the pacification of communities that were previously under control of drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro.[44]

Jungle Warfare Brigades

Brazilian Army Soldier, jungle warfare.
Jungle infantry in defensive formation.

The Jungle Warfare Training Centre – Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva (CIGS), also known as the Colonel Jorge Teixeira Centre, is a military organisation based in Manaus, intended to qualify military leaders of small groups, as wilderness warriors, fighters able to accomplish military nature missions in the most inhospitable areas of the Brazilian rainforest.

Courses are taught in jungle operations scenery in different categories – Senior Officers, Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Medical and Health Care Personnel, and small courses for the military, police forces and civilians. Its symbol is the jaguar.

Facial camouflage jungle warrior.

The Jungle Warfare Training Center (CIGS) is structured as Department of Education, a Department of Doctrine and Research, a Student Division, a Department of Veterinary Medicine, a Department of Administration and a Support Company.[45]

Although officers and NCOs from all over Brazil can apply to take courses at CIGS, most of the troopers that support training are locals, natives from the area are that are mainly privates and corporals. Because they are adapted to the conditions of the life inside the forest, they are more capable of performing a vast array of activities, such as hunting, hiding and moving through the forest with ease. Many foreigners and Brazilian military personnel that underwent training at CIGS have described the impressive abilities shown by these soldiers during operations. Their experience and skills in jungle survival certainly help shaping the Brazilian Jungle Warfare Brigades into deadliest units of its kind in the world.

The Brigades also have experience in combat. Engaged in protecting the Northern borders of Brazil, the troops are constantly exposed to attacks from border countries guerrillas, drug dealers and criminals of all kinds. The Brazilian Army commonly acts along with other law enforcement organisations in order to fight not only the drugs trafficking, but also animals, weapons, people and several other illegal deeds.

Paratroopers Brigade

Brazilian paratroopers on exercise.
Brazilian Paratroopers soldiers.

The Paratroopers Brigade is a major elite units of the Brazilian Army. Its headquarters is located in Vila Militar, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Subordinate to the Eastern Military Command, based in Rio de Janeiro, in conjunction with the Land Operations Command, based in Brasilia.

The Brigade Parachute Infantry is one of the elite troops of the Brazilian Army. Ready to jump and operate behind enemy lines. Is prepared to act on within 48 hours anywhere in the country, is in the jungle, savanna, marsh and mountain, and remain without logistical support for up to 72 hours. After completion of the mission, handing territory to another conventional unit to maintain the position gained, according to the doctrine of the Brazilian Army training, usually a unit or a brigade of armoured Infantry will be responsible for replacing the Paratrooper Brigade field after the transfer of the territory to another unit of the Ground Force, the Paratrooper Brigade is then thrown back behind enemy lines once more to make way for the Allied troops.

The Brigade Parachute Infantry is a fundamental part of the Strategic Task Force (Força de Ação Rápida Estratégica), by being able to quickly operate in any part of the national territory in case of war or invasion.

Due to the deadly and dangerous nature of this brigades' missions, the Brazilian paratroopers have a unique ethos. For instance, while regular infantry troops use black boots and green berets, the paratroopers use brown boots and red berets. They consider themselves superior to the "Pé pretos" (black foots), which are the regular infantrymen. The Brazilian Army's motto, "Brasil acima de tudo!" (Brazil, above everything else) was originally the paratroopers warcry before it was popularized (nowadays it's a common greeting between the military to say this motto). The paratroopers are very proud of themselves, and they are always stand out when they are among other troops.[46]

Special Forces Brigade

The soldiers of psychological operations.
Parade of Special Forces Command in Brasilia.

The Special Operations Brigade is Brazil's special operations force. Although administratively assigned to the Plateau Military Command, the brigade's operations are under the direct control of the Land Operations Command.[47] The Special Forces were initially formed in 1957 as a parachute trained rescue unit, which specialized in conducting deep jungle rescues along the Amazon basin. After conducting its initial selection, a US Army Special Forces Mobile Training Team (MTT) conducted the unit's first training course.[48]

Nowadays, it is specialized in non conventional warfare, performing psychological operations and harassing bigger enemy units, such as Brigades and Divisions. Acting in smalls cells and detachments (usually no more than 20 men), the Special Forces act deep behind enemy lines, and are capable of fighting in extremely unfavorable situations.

Brazilian Special Force counter-terrorism unit

For its creation, the Army Command issued decrees organizing the core of the Brigade (Nu Bda Op Esp), reporting initially to the Brigade Parachute Infantry. Most of its subordinate organizations were stationed in the area of Camboatá (West Zone of Rio de Janeiro), where he was the 1st BFEsp, whose commander served, cumulatively, in the initial phase, the command of Nu Bda Op Esp and management of project deployment.

Its motto "any mission, in any place, at any time, by every way" tells all. Related Commandos troops, a battalion size of Special Operations Brigade has an anlogous motto,that is "The maximum confusion, death and destruction in the deep rear of the enemy".

Special command unit, elite troops to operate behind enemy lines.

It is also capable of performing other types of missions, such as counter-terrorism, strategic scouting, finding and attacking high-value targets and stealing, extracting and evading. Due to the extremely high level of danger of those missions, this unit is composed of only a few members, who must have completed the Comandos and Paraquedista (Commandos and Paratroopers). They are highly specialized and ready to operate anywhere in the world in less than 45 hours. Because of this, they are recognized as one of the most prestigious units in the Brazilian Army.

The unit's baptism of fire took place in the 1970s during operations against the force of the Araguaia Guerrilla, when the hitherto Detachment Special Forces, with their effective command and special forces, was the only unit that fought almost uninterruptedly throughout the campaign, whether in combat actions, or espionage, without the engagement of the controls and special forces of the army, the defeat of the guerrillas would have been more difficult, since such military are experts in counter-guerrilla of the Brazilian Army.

In 1991, guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, entered the Brazilian territory and attacked a small Brazilian Army border contingent, the response was immediate, and the then Special Forces Battalion held in conjunction with other units, retaliation operation, Operation Traira, and the result was 12 dead guerrillas, captured numerous, most of the weapons and equipment recovered.

Recently under the aegis of the United Nations, the Special Operations Brigade played a decisive role in combating the paramilitary groups that plagued the Haitian territory and caused great political instability in the country, and the 1st Special Forces Battalion, 1st Command Action Battalion and the 1st Psychological operations Battalion the only army units that send military in all contingent to MINUSTAH since the beginning of the mission, and special operations performed by these units were fundamental to the pacification of Port-au-Prince.

Mountain Operations Brigade

Mountain light infantry

It's a specialized infantry brigade of the Brazilian Army. Its headquarters is located in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. Its catchment area covers the state of Minas Gerais and Petropolis. It is administered by the 1st Army Division / Eastern Military Command, headquartered in Rio de Janeiro.

4th Mountain Infantry Brigade is a unit of the Brazilian Army, specializing in mountain combat operation, improving and developing special techniques of mountain operations and using equipment and weapons specific to this theater of operations, has established itself over the years as an elite troop, and even multiplying their special techniques to other Brazilian military units, which will attend their courses and internships, assists the training of the units members of the Strategic Task Force (Força de Ação Rápida Estratégica)of the Brazilian Army.

During World War II the Brazilian infantry had major highlight in the conquest of the town of Montese situated in mountainous terrain and heavily defended by the Germans as the last bastion stop the advancing allied troops toward the Po Valley. On April 14, 1945, the massive Montese became the scene of the most arduous and bloody battle of Brazilian arms in Italy, in the words of their own Commander Brazilian Expeditionary Force Marechal Mascarenhas de Morais. Having eleven main effort of the attack as fighting in dense minefields and under heavy fire from German machine guns, they were finally able to conquer Montese.

Fast Motorized Operations Brigade

Large infantry Brazilian Army 3rd Brigade in Brasilia, 2014.

The 3rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, also known as the Viscount of Porto Seguro's Own Brigade, is one of the Brigades of the Brazilian Army. Its headquarters is located in Crystal, in Goiás State. It is subject to the Planalto Military Command, with headquarters in Brasilia. Its subordinate military organizations are located in the Federal District and the states of Goiás, Tocantins and Minas Gerais region known as Triangulo Mineiro. Its historic name is a tribute to the Viscount of Porto Seguro, Francisco Adolfo Varnhagem.

The 3rd Brigade is part of the strategic reserve of the Brazilian Army, but should be able to be employed at any time and in any part of Brazil. Being a mechanized formation, it can be deployed fast enough anywhere nationwide either for conventional operations or to reinforce the military police in keeping public order, and can still perform promptly any motorized, airmobile or airborne action.

Battalions and Regiments specialized

1st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Battalion

Troops of the Brazilian Army prepared for biological warfare.

The 1st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defesne Battalion, raised in 2012 by the redesignation of the Army CBRN Defense Company, is the only one of its kind in the Brazilian Army, and its members are trained for combat in chemical, biological and nuclear warfare (as the name suggests), mainly in control and decontamination of weapons, local and military equipment.

The battalion's origin dates back to 1953, when the Chemical Warfare Company, originally subject to the Reverse Split Units-School (RSUS) was set up on the premises of the Special Education School (SES)

On December 31, 1987, the Chemical Warfare School was extinguished and, in its place, the CBRN Company was created, based in the city of Rio de Janeiro and subordinated to the Board of Specialization and Extension.

17th Border Battalion (Swamp Operations )

Infantry border Pantanal.

The 17th BB is an elite unit of the Brazilian Army, specializing in swamp operations that is located in the city of Corumbá, state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Its main missions, ensuring the western border of Brazil, the development and improvement of technical and operational doctrines and special combat specific swampy environment (present in many places in the world) and also multiply its technical operations in wetland units members Strategic Task Force (Força de Ação Rápida Estratégica)of the Brazilian Army, but specifically, offering a course of Wetland Operations (Operações no Pantanal) to the Special Operations Brigade, Parachute Infantry Brigade and the 12th Light Infantry Brigade (airborne), units within the Strategic Task Force, and also military from other regions, particularly the Western Military Command, which is responsible for the protection of the western border of the Brazilian territory. Besides that, there are also exchanges of techniques and experiences with the Brazilian Marines, which also apply to the Wetland Operations course and are remarkably skilled in amphibious operations.

72nd Motorized Infantry Battalion (Caatinga/Savanna Operations)

Fighters of Caatinga.

The 72nd MIB is an elite unit of the Brazilian Army based in Petrolina, being the only unit of the Brazilian Army to train the warfighter to the operating environment of Caatinga and Savanna.

Has a Caatinga Operations Instructions Center, covering an area of approximately 28,000 km².

The facilities of the Caatinga Operations Instructions Center are comprised in an area which belongs to the Ministry of Defence, named the Field Instruction Iron Tank Farm, responsible for the formation of the Caatinga battle combatant in this environment. The vegetation is aggressive and thorny, the sun is very harsh for most of the daytime and water is sparse. The conditions of this area are very difficult to withstand and soldiers who finish this course are acknowledged as Caatinga Warriors of the Brazilian Army, as described by the Brazilian Army in its website(in Portuguese).[49]

Presidential Guard

The Presidential Guard Battalion is a unit of the Brazilian Army and honor guard to the President of Brazil. Two other units, the 1st Guards Cavalry Regiment and the Cayenne Battery, are also part of the presidential honor guard unit, and they all report to Army HQ.

The PGB had its origins in the Emperor’s Battalion, organized in 1823 during the peace campaigns that followed the Declaration of Independence as the guards unit for the Imperial Family of Brazil, and as such wears its 19th-century uniforms. Disbanded in 1827, it was reformed in 1933.

1st Guards Cavalry Regiment.

The 1st Guards Cavalry Regiment also known as the "Dragões da Independência" (Independence Dragoons), is the squadron-sized horse guards regiment of the Army. The name was given in 1927 and refers to the fact that a detachment of dragoons escorted the Prince Royal of Portugal, Pedro VI, at the time when he declared Brazilian independence from Portugal, on September 7, 1822. The Independence Dragoons wear 19th century uniforms similar to those of the earlier Imperial Honor Guard, which are used as the regimental full dress uniform since 1927. The uniform was designed by Debret, in white and red, with plumed bronze helmets. The colors and pattern were influenced by the Austrian dragoons of the period, as the Brazilian Empress Consort was also an Austrian Archduchess. The color of the plumes varies according to rank. The Independence Dragoons are armed with lances and sabres, the latter only for the officers and the colour guard.

The regiment was established in 1808 by the Prince Regent and future king of Portugal, John VI, with the duty of protecting the Portuguese royal family, which had sought refuge in Brazil during the Napoleonic wars. However dragoons had existed in Portugal since at least the early 18th century and, in 1719, units of this type of cavalry were sent to Brazil, initially to escort shipments of gold and diamonds and to guard the Viceroy who resided in Rio de Janeiro (1st Cavalry Regiment – Vice-Roy's Horse Guard Squadron). Later, they were also sent to the south to serve against the Spanish during frontier clashes. After the proclamation of Brazilian independence, the title of the regiment was changed to that of the Imperial Honor Guard, with the role of protecting the Imperial Family. The Guard was later disbanded by Emperor Pedro II and would be recreated only later in the republican era, this time as the horse guards unit mandated to defend and protect the President of Brazil and his First Family, the Vice President of Brazil and all offices of the national government. At the time of the Republic proclamation in 1889, horse #6 of the Imperial Honor Guard was ridden by the officer making the declaration, Second Lieutenant Eduardo José Barbosa, with the permission of Field Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca. This is commemorated by the custom under which the horse having this number is used only by the commander of the modern regiment, usually a superior officer with the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel.

The regiment maintains its own band, which also serves as the official presidential band.

Army Police Battalions and Platoons

Army Police soldiers at the Complexo da Maré pacification.
Army Police riot control platoon.

See article: Army Police (Brazil)

The Army Police Branch is composed of specialized units of the Brazilian Army Infantry, who develop the mission of military police along the headquarters of major commands and major units of Land Force garrisons.

As operating units of the Army Police, there are several battalions, companies and platoons, like riot control, K-9, motorcyclists and regular troops. Military Police of the Brazilian Army are identified by the use of black armband with the letters "PE" in white (or white armband with red letters).

Commonly, the term "Military Police" is used to refer to the State ostensible polices.

Current Equipment

In addition the Brazilian Army Aviation Command operates 90 helicopters.

Current Equipment of the Brazilian Army

Historical Equipment


Armoured vehicle


Historical Vehicles

Ranks, uniforms, and insignia

The senior-most commissioned rank in the Brazilian Army is the "General de Exército" (English: General of the Army), a "four-star" general. In times of war, or in exceptional circumstances, a fifth star may be worn by the highest-ranking officer in the army, who is then promoted to "Marechal", (English: Marshal of the Army). Brazilian Army officers wear rank insignia on shoulder boards and the army has ten officer ranks, also known as "grades", excluding that of an officer candidate.

Camouflage uniform standard Brazilian army.
Current camouflage pattern.

Brazilian Army officer ranks from second lieutenant to colonel equate directly with counterparts in the United States Army, but thereafter the systems diverge. A Brazilian "General de Brigada" (English: brigadier general) wears two stars, with duties equivalent to a U.S. Army brigadier general, the next higher rank, "General de Divisão" (English: divisional general), equivalent to an American major general, wears three; their United States counterparts have only one and two stars, respectively. The next higher rank, designated by four stars, is "General de Exército" (English: General of the Army). The Marshal wears five stars, but that rank is rarely attained on active duty. There is no rank that corresponds to an American lieutenant general.

Brazil's army has strict up-or-out retirement rules, which were developed in the mid-1960s by President Castelo Branco. The internal command structure determines all promotions through the rank of colonel. The president is involved in the promotions to general and chooses one candidate from a list of three names presented to him by the High Command. Once passed over at the Presidential Promotion Board, the non-promotable colonel must retire. All colonels must retire at age fifty-nine and all four-star generals must retire at age sixty-six, or after twelve years as general.

Despite the up-or-out system, under President José Sarney the army became top-heavy as generals began to occupy many positions that previously had been reserved for colonels. In 1991 there were fifteen four-stars, forty three-stars, and 110 two-stars generals. The figure for four-stars generals did not include four who were Ministers in the Superior Military Court (Superior Tribunal Militar—STM). Thus, in the mid-1990s the army sought to reduce the number of active-duty generals. In 2014, there are fifteen four-stars, forty five three-stars, and eighty nine two-stars generals in active service.

The highest Brazilian Army enlisted rank is "Sub Tenente", which is the equivalent of an American command sergeant major and sergeant major ranks. The other NCOs are Primeiro Sargento equivalent of an American first sergeant or master sergeant, "Segundo Sargento" (English: second sergeant) equivalent to a sergeant first class and staff sergeant, Terceiro Sargento equivalent to Sergeant. Then there is the Cabo Corporal with the same duties as a Sergeant in a regular Army Infantry Platoon, acting as the Squad Leader. The Brazilian Army has no corresponding equivalent to the U.S. Army's specialist rank. The "Soldado" is equivalent to a private first class or to a private depending on the length of service time.


See also



  1. 1 2 3 4 International Institute for Strategic Studies (3 Feb 2014). The Military Balance 2014. London: Routledge. pp. 371–375. ISBN 9781857437225.
  2. 1 2 Decree 8.399, February 4th 2015.
  3. Site
  4. Donato, 1996. Sumário (Summary sections)
  5. Teixeira, 2013. Pages 83 to 110, Section "Brazil's 'Regional Imperialism' in the Cold War"
  6. Dávila, 2010. Chapters 5, 7 & 8.
  7. Guerra, 2012. VI, seções "A Operação Condor no Brasil" e "A explosão da Rádio Nacional de Angola" (VI, sections "Operation Condor in Brazil" and "The explosion of the Angola's National Radio")
  8. Kenkel, 2013. Page 76
  9. Smallman, 2002. Introduction.
  10. Skidmore, 1967. P.3.
  11. Castro, 2002. Pages 71 to 76.
  12. Christiane Mello, 2009.
  13. Hendrik, 2001. Introduction & Chapter 5.
  14. Donato, 1996. Pages 105-106.
  15. Faoro, 1957. Chapters VIII & IX
  16. Kraay, 2004. Intro
  17. Donato, 1996. Pages 129-132.
  18. Salles (2003), p.38
  19. Smallman, 2002. Chapter 1 "Officers versus Politicians, 1889-1930".
  20. Ibidem, Smallman 2002.
  21. Donato, 1996. P.153
  22. McCann, 2004. P.181, 2nd §.
  23. Smallman, 2002. Chapters 2 & 3.
  24. McCann, 2004. Chapters 7 to 11.
  25. Skidmore, 1967. Chapters I & II.
  26. Lochery, 2014. Parts 3 to 5.
  27. Skidmore, 1967. Chapters II to V.
  28. Skidmore, 1967. Chapters VI to VIII.
  29. Skidmore, 1988. Chapters II to V.
  30. Gaspari, 2002. "The Armed Illusions" Vol. II.
  31. Ibidem Teixeira, 2013.
  32. Ibidem Guerra, 2012.
  33. Ibidem Dávila, 2010.
  34. Skidmore, 1988. Chapter VI.
  35. Skidmore, 1988. Chapter VII.
  38. "Brasil destina 60% das suas Forças Armadas na luta contra um mosquito". El País. 2016-02-13.
  43. Os pés de barro de um gigante Revista Época. Retrieved on 2009-02-01. (Portuguese)
  44. 1 2 3
  45. Jungle Warfare Training Center Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  47. Land Operations Command Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  48. Special Operations Brigade Archived September 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  49. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2014-09-29.


External links

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