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Southcom Chief Meets With Brazilian Defense Officials

By Michael Wimbish
U.S. Southern Command

MIAMI, May 22, 2014 – Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, today concluded a three-day trip to Brazil after meeting with that nation’s top defense officials.

Kelly, who assumed command of Southcom on Nov. 19, 2012, discussed bilateral security cooperation during visits to Brazilian military units in Manaus, located in the heart of the Amazon. He also visited the Ministry of Defence in Brasilia. Kelly and the Brazilian defense leaders discussed common interests like transnational organized crime, border security and space modernization.

Kelly also received briefings on the Brazilian Armed Forces’ recently launched Operation Agata 8, the latest in a series of military and interagency security operations conducted along Brazil's more than 10,000 miles of border. Operation Agata 8 focuses on border security, illicit trafficking, and environmental crimes. Kelly observed the operation in action on the Amazon River while in Manaus.

Brazil is focused on border security as it prepares to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June and July.

As Southcom’s commander, Kelly oversees all U.S. military operations and engagements in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Defense cooperation between the United States and Brazil goes back to World War II. Current military-to-military cooperation consists mostly of exchanges, training and defense technology sales.

Engagement activities focus on areas of mutual interest, including aviation, space, engineering, logistics, counterterrorism, riverine operations, defense modernization, training, medicine, disaster relief, and environmental safety.

The United States and Brazil routinely take part in regional multinational exercises like the air operations-focused CRUZEX, the Special Operations training competition called Fuerzas Comando, and the longstanding series of UNITAS naval exercises.

During his visit to Manaus May 19-20, the general visited Brazil’s Riverine Operations Battalion, toured the Center of Instruction on Jungle Warfare, and met with top-ranking officers at the Brazilian Army Military Command of the Amazon.

The Amazon command is the largest of eight military districts in Brazil, with responsibility for managing the borders and protecting the infrastructure and vast natural treasures in the expansive rainforest. The command specializes in riverine and jungle operations. It was here that Kelly saw Operation Agata 8 firsthand on the Amazon River.

The Jungle Warfare center Kelly visited is considered world class by military leaders and experts, and has graduated a handful of U.S. troops during its half-century of service.

The second leg of his trip took Kelly to Brasilia where he met with Brazilian Chief of Defense Gen. Jose Carlos de Nardi and the leaders of Brazil’s army, navy and air force May 21.

In the evening, the general attended a reception along with the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde and other top U.S. and Brazilian leaders.

During the reception, Kelly presented the Legion of Merit to Brazilian Naval Attaché Vice Adm. Celso Luiz Nazareth. The Brazilian admiral was awarded for “extraordinary personal contributions” that “greatly enhanced understanding, improved cooperation, and strengthened relations between the United States Navy and Brazilian Navy,” according to the award citation.

The Legion of Merit was established by an act of Congress in 1942 and is one of the highest military decorations awarded by the United States to U.S. or foreign military personnel.


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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly

Related Sites:
U.S. Southern Command
Special Report: U.S. Southern Command
U.S. State Department Background Note on Brazil

Related Articles:
Kelly Takes Command of SOUTHCOM
U.S. Awards Legion of Merit to Brazilian Admiral

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