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Whole Damn Brazilian Navy

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Brazil received some pretty bad economic news yesterday. In my latest (exceedingly well timed) WPR piece, I talk a bit about how Brazil’s apparent aspirations to influence don’t fit very well with the decaying Brazilian Navy:

The Brazilian navy is weak compared to the rest of the BRICs, and because of its age, the force is falling farther behind. There is nothing wrong with a nation choosing to maintain a relatively small navy. Money spent on weapons is often better spent on other priorities. The experience of 1910 is not something that Brazilians, much less Chileans and Argentinians, wish to repeat, and Brazil does not currently face any critical maritime security threat.

However, recent rhetoric from Brazil suggests an interest in playing a larger role on the global stage. And though Brazil benefits from the maritime security umbrella provided by the United States Navy, its complaints about the U.S. Fourth Fleet seem to indicate unhappiness with the U.S. Navy’s continued pre-eminence in the Western Hemisphere. The Brazilian government must choose between aligning its international expectations with the resources it is willing to dedicate to defense, or aligning its defense expenditures with its global ambitions. If Brazil does not desire to play a major maritime role, it should discard its aging carrier and forego plans for an expensive nuclear submarine, opting instead for a smaller, more compact, but more modern force. If Brazil wants to play in the same league with the other BRICs, then it needs to shift its procurement priorities soon before it gets left too far behind.

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  • On my wish list of military cuts, the Fourth Fleet is right at the top.

    We need an entire, separate fleet to patrol around South America about as much as we need armored unicycles.

    As if the responsibilities can’t be divided between the 2nd (US East Coast, Gulf of Mexico), the 6th (Atlantic), and the 3rd (Pacific).

    • Robert Farley

      We should be clear that “entire, separate fleet” in this case means “entire, separate fleet staff”, because the Fourth Fleet only intermittently has any ships.

      • Njorl

        Yes, but what is the readiness of those no ships?

      • For now.

        The duplication of the fleet command itself is an unnecessary expense, and it creates another mouth that will demand to be fed.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      We need an entire, separate fleet to patrol around South America about as much as we need armored unicycles.

      Any chance of getting in on that sweet, sweet DOD procurement gravy-train with some armored unicycles?

      Gentlemen, we cannot allow a unicycle GAP!

      • Any chance of getting in on that sweet, sweet DOD procurement gravy-train with some armored unicycles?

        Don’t worry. Your local SWAT team will be riding them to drug busts before you know it.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    Sao Paulo would be an expensive undertaking for any larger, richer navy to try and operate. I could see the value in a new amphib, but continuing to operate a carrier that should’ve been scrap metal years ago is a total waste of money and resources.

    • I’ve found Farley’s thoughts on aircraft carriers and prestige very insightful on this score.

  • ajay

    If Brazil wants to play in the same league with the other BRICs, then it needs to shift its procurement priorities soon before it gets left too far behind.

    Using BRICs in the context of economics is arguable. Using it in the context of security policy is not very helpful…

  • @ joe from Lowell

    There’s less duplication than you think. Second Fleet was disestablished in September and Sixth Fleet’s AOR is the Mediterranean, rather than the Atlantic.

    • Hey, that’s great news!

      OK, then that leaves the entire Atlantic including the east coast of the United States under…who?

      • ajay

        The New York Air National Guard. You know, the ones who did such a terrific job the last time the eastern US actually came under attack.

  • Grrg

    Did somebody say The Brazilian Navy??? (Click the link; you’ll thank me.)

    • Grrg

      (Um, depending on your browser, you may have to scroll forward to 7’46”.)

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