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Cablegate: Brazil: Defense Plan Preview Gets Thumbs Up In

VZCZCXRO0563
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0516/01 1081058
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171058Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1448
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6716
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4525
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5437
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4047
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6112
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7316
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0359
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0371
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0264
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7918
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6028
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1899
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BRASILIA 000516

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR D, P, T, WHA, AND PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2018
TAGS: PARM MARR MCAP PREL BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: DEFENSE PLAN PREVIEW GETS THUMBS UP IN
CONGRESS

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Phil Chicola. Reasons 1.4 B and

1. (U) Summary: Previewing their Strategic Plan on National
Defense (scheduled to be unveiled on September 7, 2008) in
Congress for the first time on April 9, Minister of Defense
Nelson Jobim and Long-Term Planning Minister Mangabeira Unger
were met with an overwhelmingly positive response from
members of the Chamber of Deputies' External Relations and
National Defense Committee (CREDN) during a public hearing.
The plan, an ambitious soup-to-nuts transformation of
Brazil's national defense structure, charts a new strategic
direction by re-defining the key threats Brazil faces,
reorganizing and reequipping its forces around those threats,
and redeveloping an autonomous defense industry that can be
an engine for the development of advanced technology.
Although both ministers called for a national conversation on
long-ignored defense and national security issues, the
preview generated little in-depth discussion of the threats
or premises-- even those with a subtle but not entirely
veiled anti-American bent to them-- underlying the reforms.
Judging by the uncritical reception they received, Jobim and
Unger's national defense plan may meet little resistance in
Congress when it is unveiled later this year. End summary.

-------------------------------
First, Define the Threats...
-------------------------------

2. (C) On April 9, CREDN convened a hearing to preview the
work of the recently convened intra-governmental committee
created to craft a Strategic Plan for National Defense and to
discuss Jobim and Unger's recent travels to France and Russia
earlier this year. The government committee, chaired by
Jobim, coordinated by Unger, with participation of the three
force commanders, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of
Planning, and the Ministry of Science and Technology, seeks,
according to Jobim and Unger, to resurrect the issue national
defense from the "authoritarian debris" left behind with the
end of the military regime and place it firmly in the
national consciousness. Unger noted that their intent is not
to come with a plan to merely re-arm the Brazilian armed
forces and update old technology but a plan to achieve
nothing less than a comprehensive reform of all the
constituent parts of Brazil's national defense
infrastructure. (Comment: It is no accident that the
Ministry of External Relations (MRE) is not represented on
the committee. Jobim and Unger purposefully made sure MRE
was not represented, a move that apparently angered MRE
officials and is likely the reason MRE is trying to keep
Jobim on a short leash as he consults with other countries.
End comment.)

3. (U) According to Jobim, the committee's first task is to
define the threats that need to be defended against. Only
after defining the threats could they begin to study how to
restructure the forces, redeploy them if necessary,
eformulate doctrine to conform to the newly define threats,
retrain them in accordance with new dotrines, and reequip
them to fulfill the missions Because Brazil lacks
territorial ambitions or utstanding border disputes, Jobim
and Unger identfied the missions as: monitoring and
protection f land, sea, and air boundaries in peacetime;
prtection from regional warfare outside Brazil's borers;
defense against invasion by a conventional orce; and
asymmetrical warfare in the Amazon by ether an
unconventional force or by a conventiona force with backing
from a more powerful outsidepower.

--------------------------------------------- -----
...Then Reorganize and Rearm Around te Threats
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (U) After outlining the hypothetcal threats being

BRASILIA 00000516 002 OF 004


considered, Jobim proceeded to outline how the posited
threats would impact decisions on reform. For example, noting
that only about 27,000 of about 300,000 active members of all
three branches of the Brazilian armed forces serve in the
Amazon region, Jobim questioned whether it was prudent to
maintain the bulk of the forces deployed in the west and
south of the country if a principal mission would be to
protect the Amazon and the western borders. He also
questioned whether it made sense to keep Brazil's rapid
reaction forces headquartered in the south instead of the
center-west, where they can more quickly deploy to any part
of the country.

5. (U) For his part, Unger noted their plan sought answers to
fundamental issues each of the services face:

- For the Air Force, is it best to invest in joint-production
of 4th generation jet fighters, invest in modernizing the
existing jet fighter fleet, or invest in a 5th generation
fighter?

- For the Navy: Its geographical positioning needs to be
resolved. The bulk of the fleet cannot continue to be based
out of Rio de Janeiro. Increasing the number of submarines
may mean reducing the number of surface ships, therefore,
Unger noted, trade-offs will have to be made.

- For the Army: Brazil's rapid reaction capability amounts to
ten percent of the total force. Should this capacity move to
a larger percentage of the force based on the hypothetical
threats Brazil is facing?

- Space: What should Brazil's capabilities be? At a minimum,
according to Unger, Brazil needs to have a presence in order
to monitor its borders.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
A New Defense Industry: Seeking Strategic Partners
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (U) Both Jobim and Unger focused a part of their
presentation to highlighting the need for Brazil to
reestablish an autonomous defense industry. In pursuit of
that goal, Jobim and Unger recently traveled together to
Russia and France, and Unger to India. (Note: Jobim also
mentioned that he had recently visited the United States,
although he did dwell on it. End note.) Both noted that
they were not seeking to purchase products off the shelf as
in a supermarket, but instead they are looking to build
Brazil's own industrial capacity. Unger further stressed
that an autonomous defense industry will require legislation
establishing a preferential regulatory framework and granting
tax incentives to private defense companies in exchange for
strategic direction. State companies, on the other hand,
will focus on basic and advanced research that the private
companies cannot undertake because it cannot be quickly
commercialized. In furtherance of this goal, Jobim and Unger
will be hosting delegations from France and Russia in the
next week (Note: According to an article in the 16 April
daily newspaper Correio Braziliense, a Russian delegation was
in Brasilia this week to discuss the joint development of jet
fighters. End note.)

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Flexing Regional Leadership Muscles Defense Council:
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (U) During the hearing, Jobim also focused on the
Brazilian proposal to create a South American Defense Council
(SADC) that he stated, would help place Brazil in a
leadership role within the region after having its back
turned to Latin American since imperial days. Jobim
indicated he would be flying to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador,

BRASILIA 00000516 003 OF 004


Paraguay, and Chile soon to seek support for the SADC, a
concept for which Brazil had made no definitive designs but
which did not follow the classic model of a military alliance
such as NATO. (Note: Press reports out of Jobim's April 14
meeting with Venezuelan President Chavez in Caracas
highlighted this aspect of Jobim's concept and reported that
Chavez had agreed. End note.) Some of the goals of the
SADC, he noted, would be to stimulate the creation of a
common South American defense identity; establish
confidence-building measures; develop programs for the
exchange and common training of personnel; train for joint
peacekeeping operations; possibly develop coordinated actions
against transnational crime; and integrate the regional
defense industrial base. Principally, he noted, it will
serve to develop and reinforce the need for South America to
speak with one voice in international fora, and for the
region to come up with its own solutions, rather than having
them imposed from outsiders.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Enthusiastic, Uncritical Congressional Reaction:
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. (U) Jobim's and Unger's presentations elicited mostly
unanimous praise and uncritical observations from the Federal
Deputies who attended the hearing. Chairman Marcondes
Gadelha (Brazilian Socialist Party, PSB, governing coalition;
of Pernambuco) called the hearing a historic occasion and
referred to the strategic plan as the new foundation of
national defense in Brazil, expressions which were echoed by
several other members, who had few questions. The one
exception came from Federal Deputy Raul Jungmann (PPS,
Socialist People's Party, opposition; of Pernambuco).
Jungmann questioned the motivation behind a partnership with
France to jointly produce military technologies such as a
nuclear submarine, noting that France is responsible for only
a tiny fraction of the global nuclear submarine fleet built
over the past decade. In response, Unger argued that France
was not only interested in sharing its technology, but was
interested in a strategic partnership that goes beyond
technological development. Jungmann also questioned whether
there was contemplation of terrorism as a threat. "Terrorism
is not an internal problem," Jobim responded, adding that of
greater concern was the possible asymmetrical threat from
non-terrorist groups such as the FARC.

----------
Comment:
----------

9. (C) The hearing represented the first attempt to preview
the national defense plan before Congress and, considering it
exposed no fissures between the GoB's and Congress' views on
the country's national defense needs, has to be considered a
success for Jobim and Unger. The hearing made clear that,
for Jobim and Unger, the calculus driving decisions on
weapons purchases will not be whether to equip the forces
with the best or most advanced technology, but what makes the
most sense for Brazil economically and politically. That
seeking deals with France and Russia went mostly unquestioned
probably reflects Congress's lack of engagement at this
point. But it also shows that partnering with the United
States is not a natural direction here, and that it will not
take much for Congress to accept the premise, argued by some
here, that the U.S. is not a viable partner because of what
they view as overly restrictive technology sharing rules. At
the same time, Congress's newfound interest in the issue
suggests they might be interested and open to persuasion
regarding the potential benefits of cooperation with the
United States. Furthermore, the paranoia about a foreign
invasion of the Amazon by a more powerful actor--a clear
reference to the long-held fear that the US military has
designs on the Amazon--remains alive and well. By making

BRASILIA 00000516 004 OF 004


this one of the central threats Brazil will be preparing for,
Jobim and Unger will, unfortunately, perpetuate this fear
into the foreseeable future. End comment.
SOBEL

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