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Select and assess a complex national security organization which faces an issue(s),
challenge(s), or dilemma(s) that requires making strategic decisions. Describe the future
direction that the organization should pursue with sufficient clarity to serve as a
foundation for the implementation of those decisions.
This paper will assess the Brazilian Ministry of Defense (Ministério da Defesa – MD)
and present its future direction from the point of view of a just sworn in Minister. He is expected
to give an address in a few days to the most important security studies institution in Brazil, the
Army War College (Escola Superior de Guerra - ESG). The statements and opinions presented
by the student do not represent the views of any branch of the Brazilian Government or Ministry
At the creation of MD in 2000, Brazil was one of the few countries in world which had
its Armed Forces (Forças Armadas - FFAA) out of control of a unified structure. This was result
of the political autonomy the military kept after leaving power in 1985 after 21 years of rule. The
constitution adopted in 1988 did not change the fact that there were six cabinet posts for military
officers – Navy, Army, Air Force, Armed Forces General Staff, Military Household and National
The second civilian administration after the military regime was inaugurated in 1995.
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former advocate of the Dependency Theory and
persecuted by the military governments, considered this status quo inconsistent with a
democratic state and his idea of bidding for a United Nations Security Council seat. His
administration determined studies for the creation of a Ministry of Defense. In this process, for
the first time in Brazilian history, the government published an overarching defense policy
document (Política de Defesa Nacional - PDN). Although it was not considered by many
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appropriate as a declaratory document, PDN had made case for concept changes in security and
defense by addressing the new environment shaped by domestic political stability, the end of
Cold war, globalization and regional economic integration through South Cone Common Market
(Mercado Comum do Cone Sul – MERCOSUL).
Policymaking in Brazil is reactive in nature. If nothing extraordinary happens, society
and politicians do not pay much attention to subjects such as defense reformulation policy. Then
MD was practically created by Presidential decrees.
Besides the intention of cutting the political autonomy of the military, MD was created to
integrate, modernize and rationalize the Armed Forces and other components of the national
defense system in order to dissuade adversaries, state and non-state, by imposing a high cost to
an occasional military option.
The MD overarching and guiding objectives are: promulgate national defense and
military policies, conduct operational and strategic intelligence and coordinate research and
development in the interest of defense and propose the defense budget.
The return to democratic rule and the impression that Armed Forces were not as
necessary as they had been during Cold War created an environment where people and political
actors have very low, if any, expectations about defense issues. This was different before mainly
because military administrations presented Argentina, also ruled by military, and the domestic
insurgency as threats to National security.
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Now defense discussions are restricted to the academics and Congress Foreign Affairs
The executive branch is concerned with economic stability and spending in defense does
not sound appropriate given Brazilian social inequality. MD is expected to understand the need
for budget surplus and keep the maximum of readiness, deployment in United Nations missions
included, with the minimum of spending.
The lawmakers are interested in our activities only when it is relevant for their political
bases. They count on MD to provide, in a fast and cheap way, human relief and security when
the responsible organizations fail to do it.
The society and the media have a dual perception of MD: they support us when we are
ordered to fill some institutional gap but they disapprove any of our actions in case there is any
resemblance with the authoritarian period even if it is not intended.
The defense-related industries, domestic and foreign, are interested in the direction our
means and systems renovation is going to take.
Developed countries, which are usual destinations of drug trafficking, push for military
participation in law enforcement.
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS (SWOT)
• Training. Considering the limited resources and the fact that Armed Forces are not all-
volunteer, the training standards and level are high.
• Research. Like training, the results are positive despite the lack of funding.
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• Intelligence Services. After losing the “state police” attitude from the military rule period,
the Armed Forces kept the know-how and are willing to help the Brazilian Intelligence
Agency (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência – ABIN).
• Non-traditional military operations. MD has a structure which favors quick deployment of
human relief operations and is very knowledgeable about peacekeeping missions under the
mandate of United Nations or Organization of American States.
In some remote places of Amazon Region, military are the only representatives of the state
by providing any assistance needed.
The cultural factor, to be discussed later, is responsible for much of the weaknesses presented.
• Transparency. MD did not manage yet to establish a clear flow of information about
defense matters between military and civilian communities.
• Self-assessment. The lack of open debate about security causes the impression that
everything is being done the right way.
• Gaining resource support. MD efforts to make a convincing case to the stakeholders did
• Regional stability. Despite some pending domestic and international issues, the South
America is a very calm region in comparison with others. The ongoing process of economic
integration can be a good reason for negotiations about hemispheric defense.
• Globalization. We can take advantages of the current trade negotiations with other
developing nations to develop joint–ventures in defense projects.
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• Transnational crime. It is not a core responsibility but, in case it escapes the control of the
Federal and States police forces, Armed Forces can be called to intervene. If considered
isolated, narcoterrorists in Amazon region of neighboring countries and drug trafficking
gangs in Brazilian major cities do not present a great danger to National Security. But they
are already cooperating and this can be destabilizing if they get closer. Also in Amazon
region, biopiracy may become an issue to be addressed.
• Obsolescence. The lack of resources for both acquiring new systems and paying for the
maintenance parts and services of old ones makes deterrence more complicated.
The organization has a very short existence and still struggles with the discontent caused
by the end of the political autonomy of Armed Forces.
Stovepipes: Even after the creation of the Ministry, the services are autonomous about their
Sub-cultures: Military establishment and the civilian branches tend to see each other as rivals.
Within the Armed Forces, the esprit de corps sometimes blurs overall perspective.
Complacency: As result of what was mentioned before about internal culture and lack of debate
with external actors, MD tends to believe that there is no need for change.
Resistance: The lethargic pace of the implementation of the Ministry itself is one effect of this
Positive cultures: The research and operative (tactical) branches are very creative in surviving
the scarcity of funds.
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CONTROL AND MEASUREMENT
Individual Armed Forces autonomy, complacency and resistance make any attempt of
internal control challenging.
External control is more evident only when internal investigations gain notoriety for any
reason but even in these cases the stakeholders involved seem to be more interested in publicity
than in problem solution.
ISSUES AND PROBLEMS
Given the stakeholders’ expectations, the internal cultural characteristics and the threats
to our National Security and to our readiness posed by imminent obsolescence of means and
systems, the Ministry of Defense needs to implement its full organization in order to make a
convincing case for gaining resource support.
For that, our decision objective must be:
• Pick the most cost-effective method to organize the MD in such a way that allows it to
exceed current standards and to campaign to reduce resources gap.
And our analytic objectives:
• Compare the cost and effectiveness of administrative reform, reality check of current
defense programs followed by recommendation of spending cuts and the combination
• With MD structure properly consolidated, compare the cost and effectiveness of trying
to influence directly the thinking of legislators or other public officials for funding, to
influence the public (voters) or both.
The preliminary timeline for analysis is six months from now.
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The analysis will take into consideration the assumption that there will not be major
economic disruptions in next decade, which can be done based on the fact that economy
indicators have been stable for three years with growth trend. As ideological given, alternatives
that undermine the authority or the chain of command within individual Armed Forces shall not
Cost and effectiveness will be measured under the aegis of Validity, Reliability and
RISK AND UNCERTAINTY
A great deal of our problem is the uncertainty created by stakeholders’ behavior, the
degree of asymmetry of our potential adversaries and our precarious capacity of self-assessment.
Keeping this status quo increases the probability of failure in accomplishing our mission to very
high levels. We cannot accept this escalation in risk. That is why we must fully implement MD,
minimize resistance and complacency and, by doing this, call the stakeholders attention to our
MD needs to harmonize human and knowledge resources under a unified structure. The
material resources problem solution is part of the analytical process.
“This ministry is fully committed to make Defense a subject as important as economy or
politics to the Brazilian people. And this will happen because all of us, civilians and
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military of the three Armed Forces, are going to put maximum effort to make them realize
that their security is protected.”
The vision provides basic guidance which is consistent with the organization’s values and
calls for hard work in an integrated environment.
MAKING A CHOICE
Although optimal solutions are desired, the resources constraints do not leave enough
room for those. Our organization needs to test the adequacy of proposed solutions and identify
when to satisfice.
ANALYSIS & INTUITION
The fact that culture plays a major role in this organization allows us to classify the
situation as complex because a rational approach does not seem appropriate the deal with very
specific patterns and behaviors, some of them probably still unknown. As we take the pulse of
the organization, we can become less intuitive.
In the beginning MD will approach the strategy execution by acting in a sequential way
and disseminating formal directions. Later, if the alignment is being achieved, the organization
will consider less rigidity towards a tradeoff.
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It is expected that the strengthening of MD structure, derived from the lift of the cultural
barriers, will help to close the resource gap with wiser spending. We will look forward to
achieving common goals rather than investing in single projects just because “it was always this
Despite being created more by political reasons than security ones, the Ministry of
Defense is more than welcome to a country like Brazil. In order to focus in the challenges
presented by modern times, its structure needs to be put into full operation without delays caused
by historical and cultural resentments. Only this way the organization will have the political
capital for impressing those who provide resources needed for accomplishing its mission.