Marines and sailors from 27 African nations, eight European allies and Brazil, totaling 36 nations, gathered at Naval Infantry Leaders Symposium-Africa 2022, co-hosted by the Senegalese Navy and United States Marine Corps Forces United in Europe and Africa in Dakar, Senegal. July 6-7, 2022.
NILS-A is an Africa-focused multinational forum designed to bring together partner nations with maritime forces and naval infantries to foster relationships, share crisis response experiences, and better understand the maritime domain awareness of the Africa and security challenges. A key participant and member of this year’s roundtables included the Brazilian Marine Corps, or Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais.
The main hosts of the event were U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Tracy W. King, commander of Marine Forces Europe and Africa, and Senegalese Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Adm. Omar Wade.
“We come from different countries, we come from different cultures, we come from different religions, but we all came here for the same reason, and that’s to stand up for freedom,” King said. “We do this as a community of like-minded nations, we all believe in the rule of law, we all believe in a rules-based international order.”
Africa is of significant interest to the United States and during an engagement with 15 West African nations in Abuja, Nigeria on November 19, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said recognized that the United States can no longer be expected to advance global foreign affairs. political priorities without the partnership of African governments, institutions and peoples.
“We come from different countries, we come from different cultures, we come from different religions, but we all came here for the same reason, and that is to defend freedom.” Major General Tracy W. King, Commander, Marine Forces Europe and Africa
Brazil’s history in Africa, particularly in West Africa, dates back to the colonial ties of the Portuguese Empire as well as the slave trade. An irreconcilable part of human history, the slave trade is responsible for the forced displacement of over four million Africans to Brazil. African culture was imbued with Brazilian identity and Brazilian culture was brought back to Africa. With several Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, Brazil and Africa share much more than a language and cultural similarities; they also share similar geological and climatic conditions, diplomatic relations, commercial and trade relations, and a shared ocean in the South Atlantic.
To understand the importance of Brazil from a national and military point of view, one must not only examine the cultural and historical ties, but also some critical strategic documents: the Brazilian concept Amazonia Azul or Blue Amazon as well as the zone of peace and of Cooperation in the South Atlantic. The Blue Amazon refers to the 4.4 million square kilometers of Brazilian jurisdictional waters, including the 3.6 million square kilometers of the economic exclusion zone (200 nautical miles from the coast) and one million additional square kilometers extended by the continental shelf, which is described in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This area is rich in marine biodiversity and energy resources.
The Blue Amazon concept, first developed by the Brazilian Navy in 2004, is a layered approach to Brazil’s maritime responsibilities regarding economic, environmental and scientific aspects as well as the aspect of sovereignty. This concept has significant national importance for Brazil as it is essential to the integrity of Brazilian waters, to the global sovereignty of the South Atlantic Ocean and to all nations that share a coastline with it.
The Blue Amazon concept has particular significance for the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps, which serve as the country’s maritime forces responsible for overseeing Coast Guard and Port Authority tasks as well as protection of the exclusion zone. economic. The Brazilian Navy is closely integrated with the science and technology industry to preserve and protect its waters. The service is deeply involved in promoting maritime awareness and working with partners and allies to ensure the collective protection of the South Atlantic Ocean.
The concept of the Blue Amazon, as a national policy tool, is closely linked to the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic (ZOPACAS), a cooperation forum authorized by resolution 41/11 of the United Nations General Assembly in 1986 between 24 South American and African countries. nations that border the South Atlantic Ocean. This zone focuses on promoting cooperation and maintaining collective peace and security in the region. Brazil is a key leader within ZOPACAS that takes seriously its responsibility to support Africa’s maritime security knowledge and capabilities. Leveraging the ZOPACAS resolution, Brazil is seeking opportunities to strengthen relationships with African coastal nations through collaborative training and mentoring sessions aimed at advancing their respective security by establishing their own processes and procedures for forces maritime operate more efficiently.
The Brazilian Navy works with major African nations in the areas of training programs, exercises, and conferences to support increased maritime awareness and security. The Brazilian Marine Corps currently maintains an advisory group in Namibia and São Tomé and Príncipe focused on establishing those countries’ Marine Corps and building capacity. Additionally, the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps organize several training events throughout Africa to share knowledge and skills with partners. This strengthened relationships supporting the collective security of the South Atlantic Ocean.
Photo taken by Sgt. Guillaume Chockey
(Left) U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Tracy W. King, Commander U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa and (Right) Senegalese Navy Chief of Staff Rear Adm. Oumar Wade speaks with African military partners during the Naval Infantry Leadership Symposium – Africa 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, July 6, 2022. NILS -A is an Africa-focused multinational forum designed to bring together nations partners with maritime forces and naval infantries to develop interoperability, crisis response capabilities and foster relationships that will enhance Africa’s maritime domain security.
NILS-A is one of the primary platforms and mechanisms for bringing together naval infantry leaders from across Africa to share common interests and strengthen military relationships that facilitate a secure and prosperous South Atlantic. This forum is important not only for African countries, but also for Brazil to be involved in the development and support of its partners on the other side of the South Atlantic.
Captain André Luiz Guimaraes Silva, Chief of Doctrine Department, General Command of the Brazilian Marine Corps, represented Brazil this year to present and participate in discussions. His presentation focused on riverine operations and drew many parallels with anti-piracy operations which are crucial for the protection of the Gulf of Guinea area. He discussed the importance of realistic training and empowering small unit leaders to act according to the commander’s intent. Additionally, he shared Brazil’s experience with the integration of technology in jungle and river operations and how it played a less decisive role than originally expected, which resonated with several of the African partners. His presentation, expertise and talking points helped advance the dialogue on collective maritime security training, preparedness and opportunities between Brazil and participating African countries.
“This conference was a great opportunity for the Brazilian Navy and Marine Corps to show their involvement in Africa and their role as a regional leader in the South Atlantic,” said Major Felipe Bayona, exchange officer of the Brazilian Marine Corps. US Marines with the Brazilian Marine Corps. “It is truly a mutually beneficial relationship for the United States, Brazil and our partners in Africa to come together and collaborate. Together, we can build a strong partnership and coalition that will maintain the security and stability of each of our sovereign waters while contributing to the collective security of the South Atlantic.
Last May, Brazil hosted the Navy Leaders of Americas Conference, an event similar to NILS-A, where Navy leaders from across the Western Hemisphere came together to discuss key security and defense. Several African partners have been invited to participate in this event as a demonstration of cooperation between Brazil and Africa and for the collective maritime security of South America via the South Atlantic Ocean.
Next September, the Brazilian Navy will host Exercise UNITAS, the longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise in the world. UNITAS 2022 will include the participation of African countries as an opportunity to develop their partnership and expand interoperability between Brazil, Africa and a multinational force, bringing together allies and like-minded partners from around the world to strengthen the relationships and facilitate collective defense and global security.