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Officer Recruitment

Because the only entry into the regular officer corps is the AMAN, its records provide an accurate picture of the officer corps. In the decades following World War II, cadets from middle-class families increased, while those from upper-class and unskilled lower-class families declined. The total number of applicants also declined as a result of economic development diversification, which gave high school graduates more attractive options than entering the military. Increasingly, AMAN cadets came from among the graduates of the army-supported Military Schools, which sons of military personnel attended tuition free. Many of these students were sons of NCOs whose own origins were not middle class, so a form of intra-institutional, upward mobility existed.

The trend in the 1960s to recruit from civilian sources has abated. The mental, health, and physical aptitude tests excluded large numbers of civilian school graduates: in 1977 of 1,145 civilians attempting the tests, only thirty-four, or 3 percent, were admitted. In 1985 only 174, or 11 percent, of the AMAN's 1,555 cadets were graduates of civilian schools; the rest were from the army's Military School system, the Cadet Preparatory School (Escola Preparatória de Cadetes--EPC), or air force or navy secondary schools. In the early 1990s, AMAN cadets were drawn exclusively from those who had completed the EPC. By the mid-1990s, the AMAN's cadet population was about 3,000.

In the twentieth century, the officer corps has been composed predominantly of men from the Southeast and South of Brazil, where military units and greater educational opportunities have been concentrated. In 1901-02 the Northeast contributed 38 percent of students at the army's preparatory school in Realengo, whereas in 1982 it provided only 13 percent to the preparatory school in Campinas. In the same years, the Southeast supplied 40.4 percent and 77 percent, while the South gave 8.6 percent and 6.3 percent. Although São Paulo, according to Alfred Stepan and other observers, has not been noted for sending its young men into the officer corps, its contribution increased from 4.3 percent of students in 1901-02 to 33.5 percent in 1982. Regional origins of cadets at the AMAN were fairly consistent in the 1964-85 period. By far the largest contingent came from the state and city of Rio de Janeiro.

Although social theorists might be pleased with indications that the army is serving as a vehicle for social mobility, army leaders are concerned. Officers have remarked on the trend toward lower-class recruitment in the Training Center for Reserve Officers (Centro de Preparação de Oficiais da Reserva--CPOR) and the problems associated with such officers. In a 1986 interview, the former minister of army, General Leônidas Pires Gonçalves, observed that he did not want officers who would give only five or ten years to the army; he wanted individuals with a military vocation, who would stay for a full thirty-plus-year career. Many officers have expressed concern that those seeking to use the army to improve their status are not sufficiently dedicated to the institution. Indeed, some officers seek the earliest possible retirement in order to get a second job (second salary) to make ends meet.

Women in the Armed Forces

Women did not participate in Brazil's armed forces until the early 1980s. The Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into the permanent and career ranks. In 1992, for example, 2,700 women out of 5,000 candidates competed for 136 positions within the Officer's Complementary Corps (Quadro Complementar de Oficiais--QCO).

To begin a career with the army, women must have completed a bachelor's degree in areas such as law, computer science, economics, or accounting. The competition is national in scope, and no applicant may be more than thirty-six years of age. Those accepted into the program study at the army's School of Administration in Salvador, beginning as second lieutenants (reserve). The School of Administration is also open to men. At the end of the one-year course, the graduate is promoted to first lieutenant in the permanent ranks. Generally, the officer is assigned to Brasília.

The navy and air force have incorporated women in their ranks, but in the Women's Reserve Corps. Although their positions are temporary in nature, with regular renewal of contracts these women can rise to officer status. The navy and air force had about 3,200 female troops and officers in 1991. In 1992 the navy promoted its first women to the rank of lieutenant commander. The three services are committed to admitting women in their military academies by the late 1990s. The FAB began accepting women at its academy in 1996, but not as pilots.

In 1991, 25,000 women were serving in state Military Police (Polícia Militar--PM) units. The largest number (2,500) were in the Military Command of the Southeast, in São Paulo. The women generally serve in health and administrative positions, and at all levels of the hierarchy.

Data as of April 1997

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