Brazilian military drills to defend Amazon, against — well, there must be someone

Brazilian military drills to defend Amazon, against — well, there must be someone

Brazil’s army is deploying troops this month to the far reaches of the Amazon in a military exercise simulating a foreign invasion of the rain forest, focusing attention on sensitivity over sovereignty in a region rising in importance as a strategic pillar of Latin America’s largest economy.

The troop mobilization, starting on Monday and called Operation Machifaro, points to a deepening of a central element of military doctrine in Brazil, which holds the defense of the Amazon as a top priority. The Amazon’s mineral wealth and vast reserves of fresh water place the region “in the context of potential threats,” military officials here said in a statement. …

The drill aims to prepare soldiers to respond to a foreign military force larger than Brazil’s armed forces, officials said. While Brazil has long been at peace with its smaller neighbors in the Amazon and no country was specified by name in the preparations for the exercise, some military strategists in Brazil have long focused on the United States as a potential threat.

Officials in Brazil and the United States have rejected the possibility of any military clash between the two countries, the most populous in the Americas, over the Amazon, and ties between Brasília and Washington remain cordial though somewhat strained after revelations in 2013 that the National Security Agency had spied on President Dilma Rousseff and her inner circle. …

[T]he army’s drill reflects thinking in Brazil that foreign powers covet the Amazon, about 60 percent of which is in the country. Fifty percent of Brazilians believe that their country will be invaded in an effort to grab the Amazon’s resources, according to 2011 opinion survey by a government statistics agency.

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