LORENA, Brazil — U.S. and Brazilian Army soldiers kicked off Southern Vanguard 22 during opening ceremonies in Lorena, Brazil Dec. 6.
Southern Vanguard is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-conducted exercise at the operational and tactical levels designed to increase interoperability between U.S. and Western Hemisphere forces.
“Southern Vanguard 22 builds upon a partnership between Brazil and the U.S., and we aim to continue this exercise until at least 2028,” said Maj. Gen. William Thigpen, Army South commanding general. “It is important that we execute this mission because in the event of a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster, we’ll already have the experience working alongside the Brazilian forces, and we have that established trust and respect.”
More than 1,000 soldiers will participate in the 10-day exercise, including forces from Brazil’s 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry Brigade; U.S. Army South; and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to conduct joint tactical training.
Southern Vanguard is a rotating exercise that Army South conducts with partner nations in Central and South America, and the ultimate goal is to establish a multinational exercise which will improve readiness, security and interoperability in the Western Hemisphere. The first iteration of Southern Vanguard took place in Chile in August 2021 with participating units from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and Chilean Army’s 3rd Mountain Division.
The U.S. Army history of cooperation with Brazil dates back to World War II, where the Brazilian army sent a division-sized element to fight beside the U.S. Fifth Army and was the only Latin American force to participate in the Allied campaign. While the partnership between the U.S. and Brazilian armies is strong, Southern Vanguard 22 is the largest U.S. element to conduct combined training with Brazil since WWII.
“This exercise has been in the making since October of 2020, and it could only happen with the combined staff planning of Army South and our Brazilian counterparts,” said Maj. Milton Maddox, Army South’s lead planning officer of Exercise Southern Vanguard 22. “Both of our nations understand the complexities of an operation of this scale and nature, and in our planning, we worked to understand how each other operate to ensure mission success.”
Both U.S. and Brazilian armed forces view the exercise as an opportunity to enhance tactical capabilities and operational readiness to be able to respond rapidly in support of regional partners – but most importantly, strengthening the relationship between the two armies.
“Our armies have a rich history together, and Southern Vanguard 22 is just one more way to strengthen the partnership that was sampled in World War II,” said Brazilian army soldier, Sgt. Victor Rodrigues, combat training center observer, controller, and trainer. “Exercises like this fortify regional security because our forces learn how to operate as one.”