Brazilian Army

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Brazilian Army
Exército Brasileiro
Coat of arms of the Brazilian Army.svg
Brazilian Army Seal
Active 1822–present
Country  Brazil
Branch Army
Size 219,663 active (2014)[1][2]
1,800,000 reserve (2013)
Part of Ministry of Defence
Command Headquarters Brasília, DF
Patron Duke of Caxias
Motto Braço Forte, Mão Amiga
(English: "Strong arm, friendly hand!")
Colors Olive Green     
March Canção do Exército
(English: "Song of the Army")
Mascot Jaguar
Anniversaries August 25 (Soldier's Day)
April 19 (Brazilian Army Day)
Equipment 469 Main battle tanks
1,380 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 Dilma Rousseff
Commander General Eduardo Villas Bôas

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. Aligned with Western Bloc, it also had active participation in the Cold War, in Latin America and Southern Portuguese Africa, as well as taking part in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide since the late 1950s.

Domestically, besides having faced several rebellions throughout these two centuries, with support of key local elites and the big international capital, 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.

* 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. 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.

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.

19th century[edit]

Brazilian Army 1st Division in Battle of Caseros.
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

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.

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.

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.
Between 1893 and 1927, in that 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.

20th century[edit]

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

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.

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.

In August 1942, after German and Italian submarines sunk many 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, one expeditionary force, called Força Expedicionária Brasileira (FEB), was sent to Europe to join the Allied forces in the Italian campaign. The FEB was composed of more than 25,000 men and was commanded by Major-General (later Marshal) João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais.

Badge of Brazilian Expeditionary Force.

With the defeat of right wing' totalitarian regimes in the World War II, Vargas is removed by the head of the army, General Dutra, who is elected after in 1946 in dispute with 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.

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.
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).

Internationally, in 1965 the Brazilian Army joined forces with US Marines intervening in the Dominican Republic, in Operation Powerpack. Already 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.

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 debt one, 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.

21st century[edit]

Haitian civilians receive assistance in a camp set up by the Brazilian Army in Port-au-Prince, 2010.
Main Articles: East Timor UN Peace Mission, UN Angola 3rd Verification Mission and UN Haiti Stabilization Mission
Paratroopers during patrols in action law and order in a slum.

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.

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.[3] 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.[4]

Notable battles of the Brazilian Army timeline[edit]

Main Article: List of wars involving Brazil

Colonial era:

The Battle of Guararapes (1648–1649) is considered the origin of the 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
  • Paraguayan War;
    • Battle of Yatay - Was the first major land battle of the Paraguayan war, and most important of the war's second phase (August 17, 1865).
    • Battle of Estero Bellaco - This battle took place on 2 May 1866, in which the Allied army repulsed a surprise Paraguayan attack.
    • Battle of Tuyutí – The largest and bloodiest battle occurred in South American history.
    • Battle of Tatayibá – The battle was a cavalry engagement between a Paraguayan force led by General Bernardino Caballero and a Brazilian force led by the Duke of Caxias.
    • Battle of Ytororó – Brazilian forces advanced against Paraguayan positions for control of river bridge Ytororó.
    • Battle of Avay – Confrontation between Brazilian and Paraguayan forces in stream Avay.
    • Battle of Lomas Valentinas – The battle was fought in the Central Department of Paraguay on December 21–27, 1868. The Paraguayan Army, led personally by President Francisco Solano Lopez, were decisively defeated, though he managed to escape.
    • Battle of Piribebuy – Confrontation on August 12, 1869 in the Paraguayan town of Piribebuy, which was then serving as a temporary capital of the Paraguayan government, the battle lasted 5 hours, with the Brazilian troops, who had overwhelming numerical advantage, capturing the town.
    • Battle of Acosta Ñu – Brazilian troops against Paraguayan forces in Eusebio Ayala, Paraguay.
    • Battle of Cerro Corá – Brazilian Army final assault against Paraguayan forces in banks of the Aquidabán River, Paraguay.


Army soldiers during the siege of Bage in Federalist war, 1893
Brazilian Army battery during the Battle of Guanabara Bay in 1894.
  • Second Naval Revolt
    • Battle of Guanabara Bay – Army' troops resist to the bombing of rebel warships, as well as defeat the rebels at ground.
    • Battle of Armação/Niterói – Requiring support point on land, the rebels decided to occupy the city of Niterói, troops of the army manages to repel the attack, 9 Feb. 1894.
  • Federalist Revolution
    • The Siege of Lapa – Loyalist troops withstand a siege done by rebels' forces for 26 days, until the arrival of reinforcements, at Curitiba. Jan./Feb., 1894.
    • Battle of Carovi – Loyalist troops defeated the rebels, one day after killing the rebel leader, August 10–11, 1895.
  • Canudos War;
The 40th Infantry Battalion and the attrition warfare during the hard to campaign in Canudos, 1897.
    • 1st Battle at Canudos (3rd Expedition) – Mar. 2–4 1897. Messianic guerrillas defeat the first Expedition carried out by Army, killing its commander.
    • Last Battle of Fazenda Velha (Old Farm) – Army's bayonet charge, covered by machine gun fire, imposes decisive defeat over Messianic guerrillas, Sep. 7 1897.
    • Battle of Estrada de várzea da Ema (Emu's floodplain Road) – Army troops close the siege on the city of Canudos, making the situation untenable for rebels' remaining forces (from then completely encircled), Sep. 23, 1897.
  • Contestado War;
    • Battle of Santa Maria – Feb./Apr. 1915; Messianic guerrillas defeated by Army troops in the last major confrontation occurred in Contestado War.
  • World War I;
  • Hundred Days Offensive – Final series of battles at Western Front, of which the Brazilians military who were sent in mission to France in 1918, participated attached into allied units.
  • 1920s Lieutenants Revolts;
    • Battle of São Paulo – July 1924; After about three weeks of fighting, rebel troops manage to escape of the siege done by loyalist troops, in a pattern that would be repeated throughout the country until February 1927.
    • Battle of Óbidos – Army recovers fortification taken by mutineers, large number of rebel casualties, 25/August. 1924.
  • Constitutionalist Revolt;
    • Battle of Mantiqueira Tunnel – Jul./Sep. 1932; in the decisive ground combat of that conflit, National Army troops defeat the insurgent forces of São Paulo State.
  • World War II;
    • Gothic Line, Italian Campaign penultimate phase (one of the longest in WWII):
      • Battle of Monte Castello – The battle in which the Brazilian Infantry Division sent to Italian campaign during WWII, were longer involved (about 3 months).
      • Battle of Castelonuevo - The Battle of Castelnuovo was fought at the end of World War II, between the Brazilian troops and the forces of the German Army (Wehrmacht), trying to contain their advance in northern Italy (1945 March, 5-6).
Brazilian Expeditionary Force liberating the Italian city of Massarosa, Spring 1945 offensive.
Generals Otto Fretter-Pico (Wehrmacht) and Mario Carloni (Italian Fascist Army) surrender to Brazilian Army during the Battle of Collecchio.
    • Final Allied Offensive in Italy: Was the Allied final attack which started on 6 April 1945 and ended on 2 May with the surrender of German forces in Italy.
      • Battle of Montese – The bloodiest ground combat for Brazilians in WWII (1945 April, 14–16).
      • Battle of Collecchio-Fornovo – The last battle with allied spring offensive in Italy involving large military units, Brazilian troops captured two German divisions Wehrmacht and a division of the Italian Fascist Army,the only time before the end of the war in Italy, where two entire German divisions were captured (1945, April 26–29).
  • Cold War;
    • Battle of Santo Domingo – May/Aug. 1965. Part of epochal Brazilian military support to U.S. intervention at Dominican Civil War.
    • Araguaia Guerrilla:
      • Operação Papagaio (Parrot Operation) – Apr./Oct. 1972; Making conventional use of regular troops, the Army' first campaign against a rural leftist guerrilla, which fought against the then military dictatorship. Inconclusive outcome.
      • Marajoara Operation – Oct. 1973/Oct. 1974 – Eradication of rural guerrilla warfare in the Araguaia region, carried out by Army small units, specialized in contra-insurgency.


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.[1] In addition there were approximately 1,800,000 reserve soldiers.[5] 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.


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 75 percent of those registering receive deferments. A growing number of recruits are volunteers, accounting for about one-third 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, Sergeant Majors or First Sergeants, rarely a Second Lieutenant. In Brazilian Armed Forces, Sergeant Majors 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[edit]

Field Period Basic training course for sergeants.
3rd Army Division soldiers in combat training in southern Brazil.

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[edit]

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[edit]

Structure of the Brazilian Army

High Command[edit]

Brazilian Army headquarters in Brasília.
  • Army General Headquarters (Quartel-General do Exército) – Brasília
    • Land Operations Command (Comando de Operações Terrestres) – Brasília
    • Army General Staff (Estado Maior do Exército) – Brasília

Military Commands[edit]

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)[edit]

A Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper walks with Haitian children during a patrol in Cite Soleil.
Brazilian Army peacekeeping soldier in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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.

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:

Main units[edit]


  • 1x Parachute Infantry Brigade, with:
    • 3x Parachute Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Parachute Cavalry Squadron.
  • 1x Special Operations Brigade, with:
  • 1x Light Infantry (Air Assault) (Airmobile) Brigade, with:
    • 3x Light Infantry Airborne Battalions
    • 1x Light Cavalry Airborne Regiment (Battalion sized).
  • 1x Light Infantry Brigade, with:
    • 3x Light Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry (Wheeled) Regiment (Battalion size).
  • 1x Frontier Infantry (Wetlands Infantry) Brigade, with:
    • 3x Frontier Infantry Battalions.
  • 2x Armoured Cavalry Brigades, each with:
    • 2x Armored Cavalry Regiments (Battalions size)
    • 2x Armoured Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry (Wheeled) Squadron.
  • 4x Mechanized Cavalry (Wheeled) Brigades, each with:
    • 3x Mechanized Cavalry Regiments (Battalions size)
    • 1x Armoured Cavalry Regiment (Battalion size).
  • 6x Jungle Infantry Brigades, each with:
    • 3 – 4 Jungle Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized or Jungle Cavalry Squadron.
  • 5x Light Infantry (Motorized) Brigades, each with:
    • 3x Motorized Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry Squadron.
  • 4x Mechanized Infantry (Wheeled) Brigades, each with:
    • 3x Mechanised Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry Squadron.
  • 1x Mountain Infantry Light (Motorized) Brigades, each with:
    • 3x Mountain Infantry Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry Squadron.
  • 4x Divisional Artillery Brigades, each with:
    • 3 – 5 Field or Rocket Artillery Battalions (Agrupements, in Brazilian Army).
  • 4x Construction Engineer Brigades, each one with:
    • 3x to 5x Construction Engineer Battalions
    • 1x Mechanized Cavalry Squadron.
  • 2x Air Defence Artillery Brigade, with:
    • 5x Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
  • 1x Army Aviation Command(Brigade), with:
    • 4x Army Aviation Battalions (Anti-tank, reconnaissance, multi-purpoise, transport, utility).

Strategic Fast Actions Forces[edit]

12bdalv.png12th Light Infantry Brigade (Airborne Brigade)[edit]

Airmobile infantry training.
Troops aeromobiles.

The Airborne 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 framed by the 2nd Division Army / 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 Light 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.[6]

Bol avex.pngArmy Aviation Brigade[edit]

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.[6]

Brasão 11ª Brigada de Infantaria Leve.jpg11th Light Infantry Brigade (Law and Order Operations)[edit]

The 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. 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 traffickers in Rio de Janeiro.[6]

BRASÃO DO CIGS.pngJungle Warfare Brigades[edit]

Brazilian Army Soldiers the Special Border Platoon, jungle warfare.
Jungle infantry in defensive formation.

The Jungle Warfare Training Centre – Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva (CIGS), also known as 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.

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.[7]

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.

Bdainfpqdt.gifParatroopers Brigade[edit]

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.[8]

Dist-Bda-Op-Esp.pngSpecial Forces Brigade[edit]

A Brazilian Special Operation soldier fires his rifle at a series of targets during the rifle qualification event.
Parade of special troops 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.

It's 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".

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

4bdaimz.png4th Mountain Infantry Brigade (Mountain Operations)[edit]

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 the II World War 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.

3bdaimz.png3rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade[edit]

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

The 3rd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, also known as Brigade Visconde de Porto Seguro is one of the Brigades of the Brazilian Army. Its headquarters is located in Crystal, in Goiás. 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. It has fast conditions aprestar, travel, meet Law and Order assurance missions and still perform promptly motorized operations, airmobile or airborne.

Battalions and Regiments specialized[edit]

1st Defense Battalion Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear[edit]

Troops of the Brazilian Army prepared for biological warfare.

The 1st Battalion Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear results from the transformation of the Company in battalion, in 2012. Are the only of its kind in the Brazilian Army, and its members are trained for combat in chemical, biological and nuclear war (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 Company Chemical Warfare School was extinguished and, in its place, Cia was created, based in the city of Rio de Janeiro and subordinated to the Board of Specialization and Extension.

17bfron.jpg17th Border Battalion (Swamp Operations )[edit]

Infantry border Pantanal.

It 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 (airbone), 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 anphibious operations.

Simbolo Caatinga.jpg72nd Motorized Infantry Battalion (Caatinga/Savanna Operations)[edit]

Fighters of Caatinga.

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 km ².

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 Combatant Caatinga. The vegetation is aggressive and thorny, the sun is very harsh for most of the daytime and water is sparse. The conditions of this biome are very difficult to withstand and soldiers who clear this course are acknowledged as Caatinga Warriors of the Brazilian Army, as described by the Brazilian Army in its website(in Portuguese).[11]

Bgp - 2.pngPresidential Guard[edit]

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.

This troop had its origins in the Emperor’s Battalion, organized in 1823 during the peace campaigns that followed the Declaration of Independence and wears its 19th-century uniforms.

1st Guards Cavalry Regiment "Dragoons of Independence".

1st Guards Cavalry Regiment, this regiment is known as the "Dragões da Independência" (Dragoons of Independence). 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. 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. 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 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. At the time of the Republic proclamation in 1889, horse #6 of the Imperial Honor Guard was ridden by the officer making the declaration. This is commemorated by the custom under which the horse having this number is used only by the commander of the modern regiment.

14ciape.pngArmy Police Battalions and Platoons[edit]

See article: Army Police (Brazil)

Platoon of riot control Army Police.

Police Army 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. 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).

Current Equipment[edit]

An overview of the Army's equipment in 2014;

In addition the Brazilian Army Aviation Command operates 90 helicopters.

Historical Equipment[edit]


Armoured vehicle[edit]


Other vehicles[edit]

Ranks, uniforms, and insignia[edit]

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.

Historical gallery[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Decree 8.399, February 4th 2015.
  2. ^ Site
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Os pés de barro de um gigante Revista Época. Retrieved on 2009-02-01. (Portuguese)
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ Jungle Warfare Training Center Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Land Operations Command Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  10. ^ Special Operations Brigade Brazilian Army, accessed on May 8, 2008. (in Portuguese)
  11. ^


  • Celso Castro, Vitor Izecksohn and Hendrik Kraay "Nova História Militar Brasileira" (New Brazilian Military History) (Portuguese) Getúlio Vargas Foundation 2004 ISBN 8522504962
  • Christiane Figueiredo Pagano de Mello "Forças Militares no Brasil Colonial" (Military Forces in Colonial Brazil) (Portuguese) E-papers 2009 ISBN 9788576502050
  • Dávila, Jerry. "Hotel Tropico: Brazil and the challenge of African Decolonization, 1950–1980." Duke University Press 2010 ISBN 978-0822348559
  • Dudley, William Sheldon "Reform and Radicalism in the Brazilian Army, 1870–1889" Columbia University 1972
  • Donato, Hernâni "Dicionário das Batalhas Brasileiras" (Dictionary of Brazilian Battles) (Portuguese) IBRASA 1996 (2nd edition ) ISBN 8534800340
  • Faoro, Raymundo "Os Donos do Poder" (Owners of Power) (Portuguese) Globo 2012 (1st edition 1958) ISBN 9788525052964
  • Fishel, John T. & Sáenz, Andrés "Capacity Building for Peacekeeping; The case of Haiti" NDU Press & Potomac Books 2007 ISBN 9781597971232
  • Gaspari, Elio – An amply documented series containing 4 volumes (divided into 2 parts: "The Armed illusions", Volumes I-II, and "The Priest and Warlock", volumes III-IV), about the army and the last military dictatorship in Brazil:
    • Volume I "A Ditadura Envergonhada" (The Dictatorship Embarrassed) (Portuguese) ISBN 8535902775
    • Volume II "A Ditadura Escancarada" (The Dictatorship Revealed) (Portuguese) ISBN 8535902996
    • Volume III "A Ditadura Derrotada" (The Dictatorship Defeated) (Portuguese) ISBN 853590428X and
    • Volume IV "A Ditadura Encurralada" (The Dictatorship Trapped) (Portuguese) ISBN 853590509X. All books by Companhia das Letras, 2002–2004
  • Guerra, Cláudio "Memórias de uma Guerra Suja" (Memoirs of a Dirty War) (Portuguese) TopBooks 2012 ISBN 8574752045
  • Hooker, Terry "The Paraguayan War: Armies of the Nineteenth Century; The Americas" Foundry 2008
  • Joes, Anthony James "Urban Guerrilla Warfare" University Press of Kentucky 2007 on Google Books
  • Kraay, Hendrik "Race, State and Armmed Forces in Independence-Era Brazil" Stanford University Press 2001 ISBN 0804742480
  • Kraay, Hendrick & Whigham, Thomas "I Die with My Country: Perspectives on the Paraguayan War, 1864–1870" University of Nebraska, 2004 ISBN 0803227620
  • López, Adriana "Franceses e Tupinambás na Terra do Brasil" (French and Indigenous in land of Brazil) (Portuguese) SENAC 2001 ISBN 857359179X
  • McCann, Frank D. "Soldiers of the Patria, A History of the Brazilian Army, 1889–1937" Stanford University Press 2004 ISBN 0804732221
  • Mello, Evaldo Cabral de "Olinda restaurada; Guerra e Açúcar no Nordeste, 1630–1654" (Olinda restored: War and Sugar in Northeast Brazil, 1630–1654) (Portuguese) Editora 34 Ltda 2007 (1st edition 1975)
  • Smallman, Shawn C. "Fear & Memory: in the Brazilian Army & Society, 1889–1954" University of North Carolina Press 2002 ISBN 0807853593
  • Skidmore, Thomas E.:
    • "Politics in Brazil 1930–1964: An Experiment in Democracy" Oxford University Press 1967
    • "The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil: 1964–85" Oxford University Press 1988

External links[edit]