MACAPA, Brazil — Brazilian and U.S. Army Soldiers and civilian planners from U.S. Army South and the New York Army National Guard concluded the initial planning conference for exercise Southern Vanguard 24 held Dec 5-8, 2022.
The four-day planning conference, held in the northern region of Brazil, was aimed at identifying and refining training scenarios, logistical requirements and training objectives for the forthcoming bilateral event that will take place in the fall of 2023. Based on the complexity and scale of this exercise, planning began years in advance of the execution.
“Jungle terrain is the most ferocious terrain on the face of the earth,” said Master Sgt. Rob Mitchell, Army South G-7 Training and Exercises noncommissioned officer in charge. “When we come down here and train face-to-face, we create lifelong relationships with each other, and we learn how they apply tactics in a different terrain than what U.S. Soldiers are used to.”
Mitchell emphasized the importance of building interoperability with our partner nations around the globe, referencing the coalition forces from across the world that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When we weren’t engaged in combat in Afghanistan or Iraq we would do training together,” said Mitchell. “That training reinforced our comradery. It reinforced our relationships, so when we did go overseas and work together in real combat operations, we already knew how we were going to function together as a unit.”
Army South, the executive planning agent of Southern Vanguard 24, and the New York National Guard, Brazil’s state partner, brought several planners from various war fighting fucnctions to work alongside their Brazilian army counterparts during the IPC.
“Combatant Commands across the board are realizing (the state partnership program) is an untapped resource that is available to them to enhance relationships on the diplomatic side,” said Maj. Melanie Padilla, New York Army National Guard state planner.
Brazil and the New York Army National Guard established a state partnership program in 2019. The purpose of the program is to enhance knowledge and training opportunities for both forces. Since its inception, the both organizations have completed over 20 exchanges, with the upcoming exercise Southern Vanguard 24 being the largest to date.
Expounding on the Guard’s expertise, Padilla explained on the Guard’s mission set is geared towards building proficiency for disaster response and catastrophic events in cities like New York City which mirror cities like Rio in Brazil. Because the Guard units inherently focus on domestic operations like the homeland response force, its personnel are able to provide a unique capability not only to our U.S. active-duty components but also to our partner nation armies.
Brazilian army Maj. Rafael Penteado, G3 North Military Command explained why this type of planning is important.
“It’s essential to plan together and discuss the issues between the two armies,” said Penteado. “We can face each other and determine what works for both armies. For me, it’s a very great opportunity to get a shared experience with a friendly country and develop my view of the U.S. Army and its processes.”
He went on to say that the planning conference was a success because planners were able to perform reconnaissance of several operational and administrative sites across the region. These site surveys covered urban, jungle, and waterway terrains.
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 24, which will occur in the Fall of 2023, is aimed at improving combined readiness between U.S. Army and Brazilian army forces.
In December 2021, over 900 Brazilian and U.S. Army Soldiers conducted Southern Vanguard 22 in Lorena, São Paulo, Brazil, which was the largest U.S. element to conduct combined training with Brazil since World War II.