Brazilian War College: 73 years of rich history
The Brazilian School of War (ESG) hosted the 23rd Conference of Directors of the Ibero-American Defense School, held from August 29 to September 2. Dialogo spoke with ESG Commander, Brazilian Army Lt. Gen. Adilson Carlos Katibe about the conference and other matters.
Dialog: What is the importance of this conference? And what is the significance that it took place in Brazil on the occasion of the bicentenary of the country’s independence?
Brazilian Army Lieutenant General Adilson Carlos Katibe, Commandant of the Brazilian War College: First of all, let me thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Dialogo Magazine, which is an important vehicle for the dissemination of security and defense issues in our hemisphere. The conference was held within the framework of the Ibero-American Association of Commanders of the Defense College. This association brings together 19 countries, including 17 from Latin America and the other two from Europe, Spain and Portugal. This is our 23rd edition and its main objective is to promote the integration of countries that have a common history, culture and challenges. This allows the exchange of experiences, contributing to the development or improvement of solutions and mutual support in general. The main theme of this conference was the participation and performance of the armed forces in activities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We had several presentations and activities related to the participation of the armed forces, which provided many lessons that member countries of the association can apply, especially at a time like this, when everyone is together. The conference becomes face-to-face again. For the past two years, due to the pandemic, the conference has been held virtually. The last face-to-face dates back to 2019, and here we are again this year. And of course, when the time came to offer to host our conference, Brazil was very motivated, because of the opportunity to celebrate the bicentenary of our independence. And as you see, we are organizing the conference close to September 7th [Brazil’s Independence Day]it is therefore a very opportune moment.
Dialog: You talked about exchanges between colleges. Could you describe some relevant exchanges?
Lieutenant General Katibe: Each year, courses, seminars and conferences are organized between the schools. There are memoranda and bilateral agreements that will better regulate the operation of joint activities. Of course, there is a main umbrella, which is the Association of Commanders of the Defense College, but institutionally, a bilateral approach is more productive. We also have mutual contributions and publications. Thus, some experts from one school contribute to another. We, in this conference, had the responsibility, which is normal, to work for the consolidation of a publication. I even have this post here, titled Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and new technologies in the field of defense, which was the theme for which the different schools, even those who were not present — because not all of them could come in person — contributed and sent articles by experts from their countries. With this we made our book, the content of which is quite relevant, since it provides experiences in such an exciting field as cyber is today. This is the kind of work that is done within the framework of the Association. In addition, we do teacher exchanges, with teachers who come to the school to teach or participate in courses and other activities, such as seminars, and who come here to Brazil, for example. Study trips are another very common activity, which aims to get to know these other educational institutions, that is, students and teachers go on a delegation to another country. We also receive the visit of other countries and we are going to know the educational institution itself, the strategic structures of this country, the important descriptions in the field of defense, and as such, we bring the possibility of to enrich the content of the lessons taught at school.
Dialog: What did Brazil bring most important to this conference and what will continue to benefit the country after its conclusion?
Lieutenant General Katibe: Brazil is a country of continental dimensions and it must find solutions to a wide variety of challenges. So, in this exchange that we bring to a conference, where there is an interpersonal relationship, where you establish this closer contact in the form of joint work or presentations, you bring the experience of our country so that other nations can take advantage of our capabilities. And of course, we also have great experience in the field of security and defense that we can share with other countries, especially in Latin America. This year is the fifth time we are hosting the conference. Of the 23 editions, Brazil hosted five. So that’s also another possibility that Brazil offers. We have all the conditions and from what I have seen so far at the conference, I think all members who have had the opportunity to come here in person are quite satisfied with what we offer in structural terms for the operation of the conference.
Dialog: You mentioned visits to other international institutions. What is the level of involvement of the ESG with institutions such as the William J. Perry Center or the National Defense University, both in the United States?
Lieutenant General Katibe: We have several memorandums of understanding, agreements. Among these, I want to highlight, as you mentioned, the Perry Center Institute, a partnership of several years and the fruit of an increasingly close relationship. This year we have 10 different activities scheduled. Of these, eight have already taken place. There are courses, seminars, conferences. Two of these courses have already taken place here at the school with the participation of more than 40 students. One of them is the Governance and Defense course and the other is the Policy and Strategies in the Face of Complex Threats course. All of them have very interesting content, and we have brought teachers from the Perry Center in a hybrid way — one week in person and another remotely — here at the school, in addition to the other activities we offer, for our teachers , to participate in the course there at the Perry Center. They start from here and help lead and participate in both course planning and execution. Another very interesting activity that we have is with the Inter-American Defense College in the United States. To give you an idea, we are going to participate at the end of the year, in the last activity of the master, and one of our professors will contribute to the final planning, to the formatting of this exercise which closes the year of discussion and study of this course.
Dialog: Does ESG already offer a master’s? Is there also the possibility of a doctoral program?
Lieutenant General Katibe: Well, the master’s degree actually comes from the Inter-American Defense College. We participated in the final exercise of this course, but the ESG has its own master’s degree in two areas of research, which is the field of Defense and that of International Relations. This course was created in 2018. The first class started in 2019. We are in our fourth class. This is a two-year course, open to civilians and military. There is a public notice for applicants with the criteria to follow. Subsequently, our master’s faculty makes the selection according to the course presented and the research work proposed. If there is interest (because you have to align yourself with these two lines of research), the selection is made.
Dialog: The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has brought to light certain problems, especially in the cyber domain, which had not been tested in real life. You showed us a book that talks about cybersecurity. Is there a course at ESG on cybersecurity?
Lieutenant General Katibe: This is an opportunity to give you first-hand information on the fact that we are in the process of creating a cybersecurity course, which we have called the Advanced Cybersecurity and Defense Course, which will cover this subject at political-strategic level. There is nothing like it in our country and I think that few countries, if any, offer training at the political-strategic level. We have a lot of initiatives in our country at the operational level, like cyber defense and institutional structures, but a lot at the operational level. But before that, it is important to address the politico-strategic level to guide the operational effort, and we intend to contribute to this, because we see a gap. We’re not the ones talking about it; it is precisely the institutions interested in this type of training, the Armed Forces and other institutions that deal with the subject, such as the Federal Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Brazilian Intelligence Agency. For the structure of this course and the development of our lesson plan, we have made a thorough study, with several consultations with experts from these institutions. There are also many other agencies.
Dialog: The ESG is 73 years old. How do you see this institution in five or 10 years, and what is the important lesson learned?
Lieutenant General Katibe: The school has a faculty of the highest standard. We have had great thinkers and geopoliticians here. We have a great training capacity; we have a rich history, a great tradition, but we cannot stand still in time and we must be in a constant process of modernization, updating our educational content. The course that is given today is different from the one that was given last year, which is different from that of two years ago, and which is better, improved. It brings relevant and current themes to study. And, for this, our school must have a modern structure, capable, with motivated staff, proud to be part of a truly distinctive team, with the whole working structure, so that they can carry out their activities well and their functions, and I am convinced that the combination of these factors is the secret of success. ESG has a history, but it is eager to build many more. And we want to be part of it.