One of the main characteristics of the knowledge era is the recognition of the importance of human capital as an institution’s greatest asset. Thus, the search for the improvement of personnel management is one of the main actions to be developed in order to achieve this objective.
Since the 1990s, the Brazilian Army (EB) has been making efforts to promote the importance of foreign language skills among its personnel, such as the recognition of foreign language accreditation, included in the Merit System (SVM) used in the various selection processes that are part of the military’s career. This investment contrasts with what has been happening in the national panorama, especially regarding the command of the English language by Brazilians.
In a recent survey, using as a parameter the non-English speaking countries and the command of English by its population, it was found that Brazil occupies the 60th (1) position in the ranking, being defined as a country of “low proficiency”. When compared to the other emerging countries that make up the BRIC (Russia, India and China), this discrepancy is even more accentuated, making our country occupy the last place among them.
Mastering a foreign language enables the military to participate in a mission abroad, allowing them to represent Brazil and the Brazilian Army (EB) and to increase the country’s projection on the international scene. According to the Directive for Brazilian Army Activities in the International Area (DAEBAI), the Institution, aware of the importance of Brazilian participation in the world scenario, selects its military personnel based on the objectives that can be achieved in the friendly country in terms of training, cooperation, integration and new opportunities. In this way, the relevant role played by the military personnel of the Brazilian Army assigned to the most diverse missions abroad has been notorious. The demonstration of professional competence and the acquisition of new knowledge by military personnel feed the Institution’s human resources and are in line with the Army’s vision for the future: “to be an Army capable of being present (…) endowed with adequate means and highly prepared professionals, (…)”.
Therefore, linguistic ability, allied to the Institution’s investment in the direction of the objectives to be achieved, has contributed to the success of the military personnel assigned to the various international activities, whether of a diplomatic, military or administrative nature. However, as in every process, improvement must be a continuous activity, because differences are noticed in the organizational culture of several armies, especially in those whose countries are part of the “Knowledge Arc”, such as North America and Europe.
An example are the functional performances of the Sergeant Major (SM) in the armies of those countries, mainly in operations, since the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) have a wider interaction than their Brazilian counterpart, as observed in several American operational documents such as ATP 6-0.5 and Training Circular (TC) 7-22.7: (The Noncommissioned Officer Guide) (4). The adequacy of the unification of the Sergeant Major function has been established, also, for the armies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries, mainly regarding joint actions. The English Army, for example, even not having the rank of Sergeant Major (as occurs in the USA) in its staff, adapted the function to the rank of Warrant Officer (WO), increasing its interoperability with other armies.
The current international scenario points to a possible restructuring of military activities abroad, especially in the so-called post-covid period. In an EBlog (the Brazilian Army Blog) publication of April 9, 2019, whose theme was “Brazil and NATO: an analysis of the possible partnership (2),” the author points out that a possible Brazilian opportunity with an alliance would allow direct access to the organization’s education system, in addition to strengthening EB’s military capabilities. NATO continuously promotes investment programs to train graduates, since they are part of the professional staff of most modern armies, are mainly responsible for the execution of decentralized actions of modern warfare, and act as “technicians” responsible for the precise use of the most modern technological equipment.
One such example is the system of professional development of graduates that took place before the Russian military intervention, conceptualized as “an important element of transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” about which the Ukrainian Minister of Defense and Head of State at the time stated: “The training and professionalization of Ukrainian soldiers and non-commissioned officers are extremely important for the success of the overall defense reform in the armed forces, as well as for achieving interoperability with NATO, given that the professionalization of sergeants is also vital for effective counter-terrorism operations (3). “
The preparation of the EB graduate, therefore, should seek similarity of the technical-professional stature of the main international military actors, especially after exercises and activities such as Operation Culminating, the result of a bilateral agreement between the Brazilian Army and that of the United States, whose treaties were initiated in 2015 and the execution carried out in 2021. The objective of the operation was, among others, to send a subunit of the Parachute Infantry Brigade (Bda Inf Pqdt) to participate in an exercise with a battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division, an elite troop of the American Army. During the exercise, the Brazilian graduates were in close operational proximity with the non-commissioned officers (NCO), which provided sufficient subsidies for a possible adaptation of the activities and actions developed in that event, contributing to the evolution of the Brazilian Land Force’s preparation for future multinational operations.
The unity of command, allied with the preparation of these professionals with the current demands, has been driven by the Brazilian Army, such as the Strength of our Force Program, inserted in the sub-portfolio Human Dimension, which has the purpose of ATTRACTING, RETAINING and MOTIVATING graduates, in particular, during their career.
However, there is a need for more action regarding the training and interaction of our graduates with other armies, the premises of which are essential to face the current challenges arising from operations in the broad spectrum. It is expected that our graduates are prepared for the present and future demands and that they can live a professional period fostered by continuous study and preparation, within the scope of their responsibility, so that they are able to act in the guarantee of national defense, our primary mission, as well as in the international scenario, aiming to overcome the challenges presented in the 21st century.
TC 7-22.7 – The Noncommissioned Officer Guide – 2015
The Sergeant Major of the Army – 2013
About the author:
Lieutenant Sidnei Lugão de Santana – 1st Lt QAO Sidnei (Lugão) de Santana currently holds the position of Deputy of the Planning and Intelligence Section of the 5th EME’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Exerceu a função de Adjunto de Comando da 5ª SCh do EME (2019-2020). He was Attaché Assistant at the Diplomatic Representation to the Republic of Nigeria and Instructor at the Jungle and Amphibious Training School (JATS), in the Republic of Guyana.
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***