By Andréa Barretto
For over a month, members of the Brazilian and U.S. Navies worked together to confront a series of fictitious terrorist attacks that were simulated at locations throughout Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games.
The Joint Counterterrorism Special Operations Training, led by the Combat Divers Group (GRUMEC) – a unit of the Brazilian Navy’s Special Forces – took place between March 2nd-April 11th. There were a total of 100 participants, including members of the Brazilian Federal Police’s Tactical Operations Command and officials from other Brazilian public security forces, in addition to the crews of the Felinto Perry Submarine Rescue Ship, the Frigate Constituição, and two aircraft.
As the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro approach – the Games take place from August 5th-21st – Brazilian intelligence agencies are collecting data on possible threats, GRUMEC Commander Luís Guilherme Rabello explained. Therefore, the training exercises focused on the Olympic Village, where the athletes will be staying: the Olympic Park, which will host most of the competitions; the country’s port areas, to which tourists will arrive; and aboard Navy ships.
In these spaces, groups played the roles of criminal gangs, hostages, and counter-terrorism forces, which had to free hostages and neutralize terrorists. In one simulation, security forces successfully boarded the Felinto Perry Submarine Rescue Ship, freed the crew, and subdued the terrorists who had commandeered the vessel, Cmdr. Rabello said.
“This exercise is part of the context of exchange that the Brazilian Navy has with other countries,” Cmdr. Rabello said. “This time the exchange was with the U.S. Navy and it was extremely valuable.”
For its part, the Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Brasília told Diálogo that U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) planned and executed Military engagements with Brazil that evolved from simple subject matter expert exchanges and visits to complex, multi-unit operations, which is a testament to the growing defense cooperation and partnership between the United States and Brazil.
“The U.S. team collaborated a lot with new techniques, resulting from a study into the best approaches to maximally reduce collateral effects, which is the loss of life,” Cmdr. Rabello stated. “Some techniques were already in place; others have been improved and adapted.”
The most recent training happened in three stages. The first was the preparation stage, which consisted of the reception of the teams and visits to some of the facilities that would be used by the participants. The second was the training stage, which involved marksmanship, first aid, and compartmental entry exercises. A portion of the training was held in the north zone of Police City, which belongs to the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police. The area has model houses where police and Soldiers can train with real weapons, as the walls are lined with a material that can absorb shots.
“The compartmental entry training refers to the teaching of a number of procedures that are to be employed so that a team can effectively enter a location and neutralize the element that is conducting harmful activity,” Cmdr. Rabello explained.
The final stage involved the counter-terrorism exercises.