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INSIGHT - BRAZIL - Defense issues

Released on 2012-03-26 13:00 GMT

Email-ID 213929
Date 2011-01-19 03:51:58
From a meeting with the editor-in-chief of Defesa-Net (the Brazilian
version of Jane's Intelligence.) We have signed a confederation
partnership with Defesa Net, so any Latam/Brazil defense-related
issues can be forwarded to myself and Paulo as we keep in contact with
this source. On a separate note, I have another diplomatic source who
has offered to put us in contact with both the Brazilian defense
minister (Jobim) and the new foreign minister.

** One thing to keep in mind -- Defesa-Net's mindset is very much like
STRATFOR's. They're located in southern Brazil, near Porto Alegre
(which honestly feels a lot like Austin in a lot of respects.) They
realize the benefit of keeping some safe distance from Brasilia and
they're focused on sifting through the headlines, the noise, etc. to
tell what's really going on. There are rumors also that Defesa Net is
used as an outlet for leaks by Brazilian military officials.

While in my meetings with Brazilian generals and security officials in
Rio and Brasilia made it sound like Brazil more or less had a plan,
this source kept stressing that the Brazilian defense establishment is
sorely lacking in one main area: strategy. He openly admits that the
nuclear subs really make very little sense. He recalls how in 2006 he
was tracking the submarine tenders when Brazil was considering buying
subs from the Germans.. then, all of a sudden, in 2008 (on what
appears to Lula's and Jobim's initiatives) Brazil comes up with this
nuclear sub idea. As he put it, it made for good headlines, but made
very little strategic sense. Nuclear subs are NOT quiet, not
efficient, require lots of maintenance that Brazil in inexperienced
with, etc. It's a decision that hasn't been thought through. If you
refer back to the notes from my meeting with the generals in Rio,
though, they basically say that it's more about HAVING the subs as a
deterrent more than anything. The source agrees that there is
consensus in pursuing the nuclear subs regardless.

Similarly, he says Embraer has created a new defense unit (last
year.) Then he said, 'for what? who knows. we're still figuring it
out." It's been made very clear that Dilma is giong to be protecting
her state champions, including Embraer, Petrobras, Vale, etc. He also
said how there are similar questions when it comes to Brazilian
helicopter purchases... they need these helos to operate in the
Amazon, but the ones they're buying from the Europeans, Russians, etc.
don't necessarily stand up to the humidity in these conditions. It's
very expensive to operate in the Amazon.

The source went into some detail in describing Dilma's style. Dilma
is a technocrat, first and foremost, a protective mother for Brazil,
not ideological. She studies up on all the issues, asks a lot of
questions, expects her ministers to be extremely well-prepared and to
have a Plan B ready. This isn't something that Brazilian officials
are apparently used to. I could see that tension in both the
diplomatic and miltiary circles as they're expecting to hit a lot of
walls with Dilma. Everybody seems to believe that Dilma is highly
competent, though.

This is why she is now ordering a sort of overhaul on the fighter jet
situation. She is reviewing everything from scratch. Boeing has upped
the offer more recently, trying to give assurances on technology
transfer. This source doesn't seem to think that the tech transfer is
as significant as others are making it out to be (but Im not so sure
about this.) We expect this source to keep us updated on what happens
with the fighter jet deal -- my money is still on the French, but this
decision doesn't seem to be coming any time soon.

Another reason why the French are so interested in these military
deals with Brazil -- the French have a satellite launching point in
Guyana and need Brazilian cooperation to protect that site.

The source admits that Brazil wants regional leadership, it just
doesn't want the negative parts associated with such a role. In other
words, Brazil doesn't want to make hard decisions.

He spent some time talking about the Islamic communities in the tri-
border area as well. He described this area mainly as a 'refuge' for
Islamist militant groups milling around the area. They know that if
they target Brazil, the risk losing that refuge (again, another reason
why Brazil is so careful with its terrorism application and why Lula
has been trying to be nice to Iran and hamas as well) he said how a
lot of the Arab families living in the tri-border area are blackmailed
by militant groups back in the Mideast -- where they are forced to
provide a place to stay, prtoection, etc or else their family back
home in the MIdeast gets hurt. Seems like Brazil monitors a lot of
these comms. He also said Brazilian intel authorities are on alert
and track every Islamic holiday. This is a region that they watch,
even if they don't like to talk about it.

He said how a lot of the arms coming into the drug trafficking groups
in Brazil come from Angola (those go to Rio mainly) and Nigeria (those
go to SP mainly)