Recently the Global Firepower military-analytical website published a ranking where Brazil had moved up by three points, ranking in tenth place among the world's strongest armies. The ranking considers such parameters as personnel, logistics and military capacity.
Ricardo Cabral, Professor of International Relations, military specialist and researcher at the Naval War College (Escola de Guerra Naval), commented on the current state of development of the Brazilian Army and its place in the global ranking.
First of all, the expert pointed out some inaccuracies in the rating:
"For example, as for natural resources, they only take into account oil production – how much oil you produce, consume and how much is in stock. This distorts the rating since there are other minerals that are extremely important for the defence industry", he said.
In addition to distortions, the expert also pointed to certain factors that, for him, reveal the rating’s flaws. One of them concerns the comparison between Egypt's and Brazil's naval power. According to the expert, the rating considers Egypt owning aircraft carriers, while it doesn’t take this into account with regards to Brazil.
"Perhaps the information was collected before the purchase of the HMS Ocean [helicopter carrier, purchased from the British Navy],which is now known a Atlântico of the Brazilian Navy, and the rating didn't take it into account. That is, these numbers are distorted".
As for defence spending, Cabral explained that, in the case of Brazil, expenses are largely concentrated on military salaries and pensions, with very little left to invest in the modernisation of the army.
In Russia, on the other hand, a considerable part of expenses goes to the re-equipment of the navy, nuclear weapons, airborne forces and other effective components of defence, the specialist explained.
"This is not taken into account. In my opinion, the website has certain flaws".
Although Brazil is relatively well-ranked, the professor believes that the country's military capacity is still insufficient to meet the challenges facing the national defence. One of these challenges is the protection of the so-called Blue Amazon, an exclusive economic zone of 3.6 million square kilometres along the Brazilian coast.
"I believe that the programme is currently moving forward; the situation should improve in the near future. But it should be combined with other programmes. Because funds allocation is very low. Historically, we have invested about 1.8% of the GDP [in defence]. This figure has been decreasing over the past 30 years. Last year it fell to 1.3% and should increase. We hope this year it will increase to 1.4%".
According to the expert, the programmes of the Brazilian Army aren't advanced enough. Among other things, he considers it necessary to increase the number of fighters, buy more ships and other equipment, not least because most of what is in service is pretty outdated. In the meantime, an improvement is expected in the near future.
"We believe that with the improvement of the country's economic situation, which is affected by all the problems we're seeing in the world, as well as some domestic instability, we should implement these programs, and Brazil should go up to the level of [spending on defence], say, 2% [of GDP]", he said.
According to Ricardo Cabral, investments of 2% of GDP, that is, as much as the US requires from its NATO partners, would be the most appropriate for a country like Brazil, "to compensate for the backlog".
"Brazil was the world's tenth war industry in the 1980s. We lost this status. Today we are somewhere down there", the analyst said. "We could restore this in the medium term, in five, six, ten years. But this requires the authority of our leaders, our politicians… This requires saying that defence is important; that defence contributes to the country's development".
According to the researcher, investing in the defence industry today is essential, as part of a major programme to transform Brazil into a "richer, safer and more technologically developed" country.