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Education and Training

For the enlisted personnel in the three services, training is a constant in their military careers. Much of their time is devoted either to retraining others or to being trained themselves in various military institutions. Like officers, NCOs who aspire to higher ranks are expected to complete advanced training and educational courses. Technical courses given by army branches, for example, are open to all who qualify, and competition is strong for the courses that are prerequisites for advancement. The navy and air force also have educational institutions to train technicians to operate modern weapons and equipment. These training courses also accept some foreign students, mostly from Latin America.

Officers are selected and promoted through a rigid system of competitive examinations, mandatory experience, and review. The army has been considered a vehicle for upward mobility. Officers were recruited traditionally from the urban middle class, mostly from white, Roman Catholic families. They were primarily from the center-south of the country. According to historian Frank D. McCann, data from the Agulhas Negras Military Academy (Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras--AMAN) show a trend in the army in recent decades to reach farther down the socioeconomic scale for officer candidates. As a result, by the early 1990s, few entrants were from the upper middle class and upper class; rather, they were from middle- and lower-middle-class and lower-class backgrounds. There was a corresponding increase in black and mulatto cadets.

An example of the importance placed on education by the military is the School for Sergeants of the Services (Escola de Sargentos das Armas--EsSA) (see fig. 17). The EsSA acquired a reputation for excellence in the post-World War II period, when the drive for professionalization of the military was particularly strong. Like officer-candidate schools, the EsSA is open to civilian applicants, as well as to lower-ranking enlisted personnel who aspire to become career NCOs. Although qualifications for admission are high and the entrance examination is difficult, competition for admission has remained strong. The year-long course of instruction is weighted toward technical subjects to meet the demands of advancing technology in the services. One of the side effects of professionalization of the NCO corps came after the military takeover of the government, when NCOs demanded and received the rights to vote and to run for office. The constitution of 1967 included those rights for NCOs, whereas previous constitutions had granted them only to officers.

Brazilians consider the educational systems developed for the armed forces, particularly in the army, to be better than most in the world. Many officers on active duty enter the system at the secondary level, beginning at one of the military preparatory schools that are supervised and directed by the armed forces. The navy, for example, has a preparatory school in Angra dos Reis. These officers, therefore, begin their military careers at about age fourteen. Qualified graduates of these schools and other secondary schools are permitted to take the written examination that determines who will be admitted to the AMAN, which provides a full four-year course. The navy has its counterpart at the Naval School (Escola Naval--EN) in Rio de Janeiro; the Air Force Academy (Academia da Fôrça Aérea--AFA) is in Pirassununga, São Paulo.

There has been an important change in the AMAN's recruitment policy. Now only those doing their third year of high school at the Campinas Cadet School may take the AMAN entrance examination. Those enrolled in the Brasília Military School (Colégio Militar--CM) and all others must transfer to Campinas for their third year. Also since the 1970s, an increasingly higher percentage of cadets at the AMAN are sons of military officers and NCOs.

Those who survive the competition for admission to the AMAN enroll as cadets to face a difficult four-year course leading to an army commission. Since 1964 the curriculum has stressed the national security doctrine, but more emphasis has also been placed on social science courses in addition to the engineering and science subjects that have always been given priority. Midway through the course, cadets indicate the branch to which they desire assignment (such as infantry, artillery, armor, or engineering), and during the last two years at the academy they receive intensive specialized branch training.

For the officer who aspires to high rank in the army, successful completion of each step in the educational system is essential. For those who would be generals, finishing each academic step in the highest percentile is required; high standing in graduating classes is among the most important criteria for promotion. After initial branch assignments, the system begins for company-grade officers with attendance at the Officers Training School (Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Oficiais--EsAO), which offers a one-year Advanced Course that is required for promotion to field grade. Routinely during their careers, officers maintain contact with branch schools through correspondence or refresher courses. The army's premier engineering school is the Military Engineering Institute (Instituto Militar de Engenharia--IME), which is in Rio de Janeiro, and offers technical courses, including accredited graduate courses. The IME is the army's counterpart to the air force's ITA (Aeronautical Technology Institute).

The prize achievement for any army officer climbing the rungs of the educational system, however, is admittance to the Army General Staff School (Escola de Comando de Estado-Maior do Exército--ECEME), which is at Praia Vermelha beach in Rio de Janeiro. The ECEME's stiff entrance examination weeds out about 75 percent of the field-grade applicants, and without successful completion of the two-year course (reduced from three years in 1992), promotion to general officer rank is impossible. Appointment to faculty positions at military schools, including the ECEME, and attainment of the highly coveted general staff badge also require completion of the Command and General Staff Course.

In the navy, an officer's education begins at the Naval Academy (Escola Naval--EN) in Rio de Janeiro. The Naval Academy provides midshipmen with a four-year academic course equivalent to that given to cadets at the Military Academy. Graduation is followed by a year of shipboard training, and naval officers also attend a network of specialist schools, similar to the branch schools of the army. In addition naval officers attend courses at the Naval Research Institute (Instituto de Pesquisas Navales--IPqN), which focuses on naval science and technology and on research in advanced concepts. They also attend civilian institutions in Brazil and the Naval Postgraduate School in the United States. The Naval War College (Escola de Guerra Naval--EGN), the navy's highest educational institution, offers various programs for qualified officers, depending on rank. The EGN is located at Praia Vermelha.

The education of air force officers follows two different paths, depending on whether a cadet will become a flying officer or a technical officer. The Air Force Academy is primarily a flight training school to which students are admitted after completing one year of training at the Air Cadets' Preparatory School (Escola Preparatória de Cadetes do Ar--EPCAr) in Barbacena, Minas Gerais. Technical officers are trained at the CTA (Aerospace Technical Center) in São José dos Campos. Before attaining field grade, all officers attend the EsAO for courses in command, leadership, and administration. The next step is attendance at the Air Force Command and General Staff School (Escola de Comando e Estado-Maior da Aeronáutica--ECEMAR) at Galeão Air Base, in Rio de Janeiro, but admission requirements and the entrance examination eliminate many applicants. Among its graduates are the relatively small number of officers who will be promoted to general officer rank. Other air force schools include the Air Force University (Universidade da Fôrça Aérea), the Aeronautics Specialists School (Escola de Especialistas de Aeronáutica), the Adaptation and Instruction Center (Centro de Instrução e Adaptação), and the ITA.

Some Brazilian officers are sent to military schools abroad. Brazilian officers have attended United States basic and advanced service schools, and many senior officers have attended the command and staff schools, as well as the service war colleges, the national War College (Escola Superior de Guerra--ESG), and the Inter-American Defense College. In the 1960s and early 1970s, many Brazilian officers joined their Latin American counterparts at the School of the Americas, in Panama. During the period of strained relations between Brazil and the United States from 1977 through 1980, Brazilian students were rare on United States military bases, but in 1981 they began returning to the United States for training.

The top of the educational ladder for armed forces officers is the ESG in Rio de Janeiro. Students are selected from among colonels and generals or navy captains and admirals, as well as from among civilians who have attained high government status or prominence in varied fields, such as business and industry, education, medicine, economics, and even religion. Since 1973 a few civilian women have also been admitted to the ESG.

The ESG academic year is divided into segments of varying length, during which lectures and seminars cover national security doctrine as it pertains to all aspects of Brazilian life. Several weeks of discussions on basic doctrine are followed by a longer period devoted to national and international affairs as they affect security and development. Lecturers include senior military officers, cabinet ministers, key government officials, academic specialists, and occasionally, foreign diplomats.

The idea of establishing the ESG grew out of the close association of Brazilian and United States army officers during World War II and the experience of the FEB (Brazilian Expeditionary Force). After the war, several high-ranking FEB veterans, dissatisfied with their own staff operations and particularly with joint service staffs, requested that a United States mission be sent to Brazil to help establish a war college. A United States mission arrived in 1948, helped with the founding of the ESG in 1949, and remained in an advisory capacity until 1960. The chief of the United States mission held faculty status at the ESG.

Unlike the National War College in the United States, the ESG has placed greater emphasis on internal aspects of development and security and on civilian participation. The ESG philosophy, in which development and security are inseparably linked, influenced the military regime from 1964 to 1985.

The influence of the ESG on its alumni has been extended by the Associations of War College Graduates (Associações dos Diplomados da Escola Superior de Guerra--ADESG), which maintains contact with graduates and keeps them informed of ESG policies and events. The ADESG was a powerful force in the military governments, always keeping the ideology of the school foremost in the minds of the many graduates who had attained positions of power. The school's philosophy was incorporated into the curricula of all service schools, including the army's influential ECEME.

The ADESG holds short training courses (mini-ESG courses) each semester and recruits ESG candidates. However, the ESG is not as prestigious as in the 1970s, is shunned by most civilians, and is not as important to the military career.

Data as of April 1997

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Brazil Table of Contents