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07 August 2015

Brazil’s Combat Training Centre – South

The worldwide tendency for combat training is towards integrated training solutions,” Col. Carriao, commander of the Brazilian Army’s Combat Training Centre – South, said during a visit in July. And the Centre he commands, sat amid the training area at Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Dul province, gives his words form.

Erlei Melgarejo of Defii demonstrating a virtual reality system developed for Brazilian Army training requirements. On right, Tim Mahon, author of this article. (Photo: MASA Group)

In creating the centre, Col. Carriao and his staff have benefited from a long and comprehensive process of evaluation that has been part of the Army’s transformation programme – training being one of the seven critical areas on which this programme is focused. As part of the programme, a number of foreign visits have been conducted, looking at the future vision encompassed by other nations’ approaches to the issue of integrated training. These visits have included CTC’s that currently embody the state of the art in the United States, Germany, France and Russia, among other destinations. In short, the Brazilian Army’s concept has been influenced by the experience that their global counterparts have undergone – including the lessons learned and difficulties in implementation.

Making best possible use of existing facilities, acknowledging the benefits to be gained from outsourcing and ensuring the closest possible integration of live, virtual and constructive training are the three principal pillars on which the CTC-South has been built – and will form a model for the creation of at least two further CTCs in other parts of Brazil as the transformation process continues.
Santa  Maria itself – the second largest concentration of military personnel in the entire country (the city is host to the 3rd Division as well as being the centre of the Army’s armoured force training facility and one of the principal air bases in Brazil for unmanned aerial systems development and deployment) – houses the virtual and constructive components of the CTC’s activities. Live training is mainly conducted at the Rosario do Sul training area, some 140 kilometres south-west of Santa Maria, and the two are linked with a high capacity wide area network to ensure maximum advantage is taken of opportunities for distributed training. The respective training areas available for exercises are 6 x8 and 20 x 40 kilometres.

Facilities include the ‘traditional’ CTC constructs – small arms marksmanship trainers, heavy weapons skills trainers, armoured vehicle gunnery skills trainers and live ranges – together with increasing use of virtual systems in specific areas of activity which attract a total throughput of 25,000 trainees per year. Some of the systems currently in use can be seen from the extensive list of contractors now established around Santa Maria: Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, CAE, Cubic, Meggitt, Lockheed Martin, Tecnobit, Indra, Thales, Elbit Systems, ST Electronics, RUAG and, of course, Saab. Outsourcing is, indeed, important and this is a lesson the Army has evidently taken to heart.

Facilities at the Armoured School, co-located with CTC-South, include Leopard driver training vehicles. (Photo: MASA Group)

But there is a dimension to the Army’s programme that moves beyond a results-oriented process and seeks to stimulate and promote local and national industrial activity also. The Tecnoparque at Santa Maria is an impressive and ambitious undertaking aimed at encouraging indigenous training systems development. Small but hugely energetic and innovative companies such as Defii have taken advantage of the support and infrastructure offered by the Tecnoparque to develop and deliver niche but very effective training systems to the CTC and the Armour School, which is also located in Santa Maria.

The Federal University of Santa Maria also plays a major role in training development locally – and nationally. The University is a major contributor to the development of the CTC’s basic training architecture and has also been intimately involved in development of the Astros 2020 multiple rocket launcher simulator and the current upgrade programme that is updating the efficiency and efficacy of laser simulation devices across the Centre’s entire spectrum of activities. Outside the ground forces arena, the University has played a significant part in the development of training concepts for the communications systems on board Brazil’s future class of nuclear powered submarines.

Colonel Carriao’s vision, while broad and ambitious, can scarcely be faulted. “CTC-South is where the Brazilian Army’s transformation programme will be realised, from a training perspective. It will provide excellence in troop readiness in a cost-effective manner, will establish Brazil as an international reference in military training and make the best possible use of current and future generation technologies,” he concluded.
Tim Mahon

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