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Operation Atlasur finished its 11th edition on the South African coast with the deployment of ships, aircraft and hundreds of military from three nations in a security exercise in the South Atlantic.
The fight against illegal trafficking of drugs, arms and people was the theme of activities in the 11 to issue Atlasur Operation, which took place from August 31 to September 20, 2018. “The theme changes each edition. However, the exercises are always related to maintaining the security of the South Atlantic, “explained Captain Rogério Salles Rodrigues da Silva, in charge of the training and resource use division of the Naval Operations Command of the Navy. Brazil (MB).
Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa participated in the event; this last seat of the exercise in 2018. The Argentine Navy, which is also part of the group of participants of Atlasur since the 1990s, did not participate on this occasion because their boats are engaged in other activities.
More than 700 soldiers participated in combat simulation exercises, in addition to four ships, one submarine and four aircraft. The general objectives of the exercises were “to familiarize themselves with the boats and to promote the training of young officers in matters of surveillance and navigation,” said the Frigate Captain of the South African Navy Abdul Sayed.
Brazil deployed 190 soldiers, of which nine belonged to the combat diving team. They also participated with a UH-12 Aeschylus helicopter and the Barroso corvette, flagship in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
Uruguay participated with 140 soldiers, among which there was a special detachment of visit, boarding, search and seizure (VBSS in English). He also deployed the frigate General Artigas and an A-071 Aeschylic helicopter.
As a host country, South Africa was the country that mobilized the most resources, with more than 300 military personnel. He also deployed the frigate Amatola, the hydrographic vessel Protea and the submarine Manthatisi, among other smaller naval equipment. The Air Force and the Task Force of the Military Health Service also participated.
According to Chap. of Nav. Rogério, it is common for drug traffickers to use maritime routes from Brazil to Africa and Europe to carry out their operations. “Criminals use various resources such as merchant ships, fishing boats and pleasure and sport boats, such as sailboats.” The practical exercises in both stages of Operation Atlasur were organized on the basis of this reality, which includes not only drug trafficking but also arms and people trafficking.
The first stage took place from September 6 to 14 in the False Bay region on the South African west coast. During those days real shooting exercises were carried out towards certain targets and simulations of attacks on aerial and submarine vehicles. In addition to the crew of the ships, combat divers from the MB, the VBSS group from Uruguay and military from the South African Maritime Reaction Squadron participated.
The second stage took place from September 17 to 20 after two days of rest and planning. During this period, the military carried out real firing exercises and simulated aerial and submarine attacks. They also performed rescue and rescue exercises that had not been practiced before. In the two stages of the practical exercise the Air Force, the Army and the Navy of South Africa worked together.
Learning of transatlantic cooperation
“The forces do not operate in the same way when performing the same task, either because they have a different operational culture or because of the characteristics of the environment and the resources involved,” said Cap. of Nav. Rogério regarding the lessons learned from the participation of the MB in the operation. “In this way, working with other countries is to learn about other forms of operation and, often, to access best practices to carry out a task,” he said.
Another important aspect highlighted by the participants was the rapprochement among the military, possible thanks to the exercise. “We do many things in combination. We have a common border in the middle of the sea, but I think the most important thing is to know people. “If I need something, I must know who to contact in the South African Navy,” said Captain of the Navy of the National Navy of Uruguay, Carlos Cóccaro.
Operation Atlasur was created in 1992, after the first official visit of the Navy of Uruguay to the Republic of South Africa. Since then, the marinas of Brazil and Argentina have participated in the exercise. The four countries alternate to organize the exercise, which takes place every two years.