BRASILIA, Brazil --
Not far from the capitol of Brazil lies a Brazilian Marine Corps Expeditionary Base. Among the arid red-sand landscape, the Brazilian Marine Corps embarked on the much-anticipated Exercise Formosa in a display of military prowess. The exercise underscores the growing importance of international collaboration in addressing global security challenges and promoting regional stability.
This year’s exercise was marked with tragedy when a Brazilian military helicopter, carrying 14 passengers, crashed. Twelve individuals were rescued, two Brazilians tragically lost their lives.
Brazilian Defense Minister José Múcio Monteiro Filho visited the base the next day to help service members cope with the loss. He said that despite the tragedy and ongoing risk, the Fuzileiros Navais (Brazilian Marines) owe it to their comrades to continue training and fighting to ensure a safer world. He praised the brave and rapid response of medics, drivers and many other Brazilian service members as they helped save and treat the survivors.
“It’s just as important to train your mind to think and be able to make decisions rapidly as it is to have the muscle memory to automatically take action without thinking." Capitão Fuzileiro Naval Mombrine, Brazilian Marine Corps captain
After an operational pause, leadership decided to continue with the infantry training exercise but with a truncated training schedule to ensure safety and readiness of the battalions.
Infantry training exercises are essential for maintaining and improving the readiness and preparedness of the Brazilian Marine Corps. This exercise allows their marines to hone combat skills, test equipment, and practice operating in various terrains and scenarios. Regular training ensures they are prepared.
This training event also marked a milestone for Brazilian military as they continue to work towards more joint operations, allowing different services to work together seamlessly and improve overall military effectiveness. Along with the U.S. Marines from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, the Brazil’s Air Force, Army and Navy also participated in various training events.
The Formosa exercise, held at Brazil's premier expeditionary military training facility, offers an ideal platform for the armed forces of both nations to enhance their interoperability, conduct joint military operations and exchange invaluable insights on tactics and strategies. With the backdrop of an ever-changing global security landscape, the participation of the Camp Pendleton, California-based U.S. Marines and militaries from other nations, including Germany, South Africa and France, shows commitment to regional security.
The bilateral partnership between Brazil and the United States has continued to strengthen in recent years. U.S. and Brazilian participated together in bilateral jungle warfare training, multiple subject matter expert exchanges and work together annually during UNITAS, last year’s event occurring in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through mutual understanding and shared interests, both nations have recognized the importance of cooperating to address common threats, such as transnational organized crime, terrorism and safeguarding maritime security.
Commandante do Primeiro Batalião do Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais Capitão de Mar e Guerra fuzileiro naval (Commandant of the Brazilian Marine Corps 1st Battalion Colonel) Alex Ribeiro spoke to the U.S. Marines and said, “Many militaries in the world want to achieve your professionalism. I hope we learned from you more than anything how to overcome difficulties and to accomplish our mission.”
For the United States, engagement in Exercise Formosa reaffirms its commitment to strengthening ties with strategic partners in Latin America. The U.S. Marines' participation shows support for Brazil's continued efforts in promoting democratic values and supporting the rule of law across the continent.
While multiple countries are participating in the exercise and observing, Formosa is the Brazilian Marine Corps’ annual field training exercise.
Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Wetzel
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jake Periman with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, prepares for a night patrol during defensive tactics training, Aug. 6, 2023, at the Base Expedicionaria de Fuzileiros Navais in Formosa, Brazil, during the Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais’ (Brazilian Marine Corps’) annual Infantry Training Exercise Formosa. Exercise Formosa offers a platform for the armed forces of multiple nations to enhance their interoperability, conduct joint military operations, and exchange insights on tactics and strategies. With the backdrop of an ever-changing global security landscape, the participation of the United States Marine Corps and militaries from multiple nations shows commitment to regional security and partnership. Periman is from Kansas City, Mo.
“Field training exercises are fundamental to the Brazilian Fuzileiros Navais' operational readiness, skill development and preparedness,” said Capitão Fuzileiro Naval (Brazilian Marine Corps captain) Mombrine. “By engaging in these exercises regularly, the military ensures that its personnel are well-trained, versatile and ready to fulfill their mission of defending Brazil's interests at home and potentially abroad.”
Capt. Benjamin Fischer, Brazil desk officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, lauded the Brazilian-American partnership, stating, "Our involvement in Exercise Formosa reflects the close collaboration between the United States and Brazil in confronting common security challenges. Together, we reinforce the message that preserving regional stability is a shared responsibility, and our militaries play a crucial role in achieving that objective."
The U.S Marines participated in many training events throughout the exercise, from M240G medium machine-gun live fire to a notional amphibious landing that included real tactical maneuvers with multiple elements of infantry, Amphibious Armored Vehicles, defensive tactics and resupplies and relief. Training even included multi-part cognitive courses, designed by the Brazilian Marine Corps.
“It’s just as important to train your mind to think and be able to make decisions rapidly as it is to have the muscle memory to automatically take action without thinking,” said Mombrine. “We practice the basics to build muscle memory to perfection and we also need to practice being able to observe, orient ourselves and take decisive action.”
This cognitive training is similar to the military decision-making process called OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, then proceed to do it again), which was created by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd to help aviators increase their decision making when conducting air combat. The Brazilian Marine Corps created training that can increase proficiency and speed in making decisions, especially when those decisions are the difference between life and death, Mombrine added.
The Brazilian Marine Corps was more than accommodating to U.S. Marines with facilities and training ranges, explained Fischer. Brazilians helped the U.S. Marines build a new machine-gun firing range where they set up American M240s and Brazilian squad automatic weapons for an unknown distance defensive range.
While Brazil has a dynamic array of climates, the dry and arid conditions experienced during Formosa offers no less diversity in training than Brazil’s better-known climates in the wet jungles of the Amazon Rain Forest, or urban operation training in Favelas.
By engaging in these exercises regularly, the U.S. and Brazilian Marine Corps ensure their personnel are well-trained, versatile and ready to fulfill their mission of defending Brazil's interests at home and abroad.