Saturday, January 17, 2009

And Speaking of "Warrior Intellectuals"

Can't wait to see how this works out. A philosopher-cum-government minister is re-designing the Brazilian military. I don't want to sound like a pessimist, but I'm thinking the Brazilian military will come out the worse for the deal.
I had a chance to visit the Brazilian SOF Brigade a couple of years ago. Outstanding unit, outstanding troops. The Brazilian SOF Brigade is located near the city of Goiania (sorry, my keyboard is not set up for using all those Portuguese soupcons) and is comprised of a commando battalion (think ranger battalion), a special forces battalion, two support battalions, and civil affairs and PSYOPs detachments.
Since Brazil has nothing akin to our Posse Comitatus Act, and since the Brazilian constitution charges the armed forces to "help maintain the rule of law," the Brazilian military (especially the SOF) sees a lot of action on the interior. The linked article above notes that the Brazilians have had remarkable success running the military arm of the UN relief effort in Haiti. That's because the (SOF) Brazilian commander promptly adopted a policy of "badass-itude" and the usual cast of Haitian ne'er-do-wells got the message that they could, not to put too fine a point on it, shape up or die.
One of the things that impressed me about the Brazilian SOF is that their company grade officers have four basic responsibilities: Training their men, doing PT, reading, and writing. In Goiania, I had a better discussion with these young officers about Bob Woodward's book The Commanders and how it reflects US policy formulation than I did at the US Army Command and Staff College. These guys are sharp, they've built a sharp organization, and it'd be a shame to see someone muck it up.
Still, if Mr. Philosophy Guy is the right guy, Brazil could win in the long term. Brazil views itself (rightfully so, in my opinion) as an up-and-coming Superpower, and configuring the Armed Forces to grow with Brazilian influence and interests will be a key to its success. The limited view of the Brazilian military that I saw revealed an organization that knew exactly how it needed to grow and reform in order to maintain relevance. The only question is whether Mr. Unger is smart enough to listen to them.

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