Tagged: 2016

0

Bigger, faster, stronger: China's ever-evolving military tech

Just ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited a satellite launch site[1] in the southwest Sichuan province, where he cheered the modernization and technological advances of China’s military. The setting was appropriate: Beidou 3 satellites were about to be sent into orbit, part of an effort to boost the satellite navigation system used by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—one goal being the ability to strike enemy targets with millimeter-level accuracy.

China’s military upgrade goes beyond space-based navigation. Last May, Quartz highlighted notable advances[2] like stealth fighter jets, high-tech reconnaissance ships, and long-range air-to-air missiles. The world’s largest operational amphibious aircraft, the AG600, had recently completed a taxiing test. (Update: It completed a successful maiden flight[3] in December.)

China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, is seen during its maiden flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China December 24, 2017.
The AG600 swoops in. (Reuters/Stringer)

Many PLA projects, including the AG600, are designed to help China assert itself as an emerging maritime power. That’s especially the case in the contested South China Sea, where China has been fortifying remote outposts[4] with military facilities including missile shelters, sensor arrays, and radar systems. The country is also building a testing facility in the sea for unmanned vehicles. Located near the coastal city of Zhuhai, it’s slated to become the biggest of its kind in the world[5].

Meanwhile China has been diving deep into scientific research. It recently gathered 120 experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and quantum computing to form a top research institute focused on military applications, state media reported last month[6]. One area of interest is the use of AI to assist the decision-making[7] of commanders of nuclear submarines.

The PLA also wants to use quantum computers, vastly more powerful than today’s machines, to help it crack encrypted enemy codes and track targets now invisible from space, such as stealth bombers taking off at night. The technology could also lead to completely secure methods of communication, which is one reason China has been experimenting with a quantum satellite launched into space in August 2016[8]. By 2020, China plans to open[9] quantum research supercenter, with military applications very much in mind.

China’s progress in military technology hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Feb. 14, admiral Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, warned lawmakers[10] that “China’s impressive military buildup could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain.” He mentioned Beijing’s investments in the AI and hypersonic missiles (see more below). If the US does not keep pace, he added, it “will struggle to compete with the People’s Liberation Army on future battlefields.”

Here are the latest examples of Chinese military technology that have caught attention:

Aircraft carrier complement

Last year China celebrated its first homegrown aircraft carrier[11]. It’s now working on a second one that will include an electromagnetic catapult[12] for launching fighter jets—a big improvement over the current ski-jump design. But to be effective, carriers need the support of surveillance aircraft to detect threats and help manage aerial operations. With that in mind, China is developing the Shaanxi KJ-600[13], its first carrier-borne early-warning plane. Likely to be compatible with the electromagnetic catapult, it will pack active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, meaning it can spot enemy aircraft at long range,[14] and, at some angles, even stealth fighter jets like the hugely expensive F-35s the US deployed to Japan[15] last year. Of course, China already has various shipborne and land-based radars, along with less-advanced[16] surveillance planes. Still, the development of the KJ-600 shows Beijing is thinking about distant sea operations—and the need for truly combat-ready carrier groups.

Electromagnetic railgun

China’s interest in electromagnetic technology goes beyond catapults[17]. Late last month, images surfaced of what appeared to be an electromagnetic railgun installed on the bow of a Chinese warship docked in a Hubei province shipyard, as reported by the Drive[18]. Though the PLA stayed mum, a consensus soon emerged[19] among military observers that the system was in all likelihood such a railgun. If true, China is the first nation to install such a weapon on a ship. The US Navy has tested experimental railguns[20] from land, with projectiles reaching speeds of[21] up to 7,800 km/h (4,847 mph), with a range of about 185 km (115 miles). The idea behind such guns is to use powerful magnetic fields[22] to sling projectiles much faster and farther than existing systems can. Because they don’t require propelling charges, the relatively cheap projectiles can be stored in greater quantity in the same amount of space, making the system ideal for both sea control and amphibious operations. Given China’s vast maritime claims—and the historic threat of a possible invasion of Taiwan—it’s easy to see why the technology would appeal to Beijing’s military planners.

Hypersonic missiles

Hypersonic missiles are considered so disruptive that some experts want treaties in place to prevent their proliferation[23]. China, naturally, is busy working on its own (as are Russia and the US). As reported by the Diplomat[24], in November China tested the DF-17, which combines a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). The Diplomat’s source described it as “the first HGV test in the world using a system intended to be fielded operationally.” HGVs stop short of entering space[25], then skip back down to Earth at hypersonic speeds. By not reentering the atmosphere from a much higher apogee, they pose challenges for the early-warning satellites and missile-defense systems that watch for such things. What’s more, they’re nimble and can disguise their true targets until the final seconds. The medium-range DF-17 could be operational by 2020[26], and observers expect it will be capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional warheads. Improved versions of the technology will likely follow from the PLA.

Deep-sea reconnaissance

Given its maritime ambitions, China needs to detect enemy movements not just in the air, but also in the sea. To do that effectively, it needs to collect deep-sea data. The South China Morning Post reported in January that China has launched an underwater surveillance network—including buoys, surface vessels, satellites, and underwater gliders—designed to do just that. It gathers information about the underwater environment, such as water temperature and salinity—factors that affect the speed and direction of sound waves. Since submarines use sonar to track and target enemy vessels, that matters to the military. With such a system, China can monitor the waters in the South China Sea and elsewhere with greater precision—which could give other nations’ submarines pause before entering China-claimed areas. In January, China’s state-run media insisted the underwater research is for scientific research only—but then, Beijing once insisted that its construction at Mischief Reef in the South China Sea was for a fishermen’s shelter, while it is now clearly a military base.[27][28][29]

Drone swarms

China is also working on using swarms of small drones as a new method of attack. The idea is that such drones would respond in unison to commands yet avoid hitting one another. In December the country’s National University of Defense Technology conducted a test[30] involving a few dozen tiny unmanned aircraft used for a simulated reconnaissance mission. Future experiments could involve hundreds of drones, and the potential uses of the swarms are numerous. Carrying electronic warfare jammers, they could be used to confuse and overwhelm an enemy’s defenses before a more complex operation. Or they could simply be flown into the intakes of fighter jets to disable them. More uses for drone swarms will likely emerge in the future.

Evolving exoskeletons

This month, Norinco—a state-owned maker of armored vehicles—introduced a second-generation exoskeleton[31] designed for China’s infantry. Wearing the battery-powered body brace, a soldier can carry around about 100 lbs (45 kg) of weapons, ammo, and supplies. Compared to an earlier version introduced in 2015, this upgrade has a better battery, a streamlined harness, and stronger hydraulic and pneumatic actuators. It’s also lighter, which further improves battery performance. Future versions could include body armor. Meanwhile, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has been showing off its own exoskeleton to naval military leaders: Supporting China’s maritime ambitions, after all, will entail loading plenty of cargo onto ships and planes.

References

  1. ^ visited a satellite launch site (www.xinhuanet.com)
  2. ^ highlighted notable advances (qz.com)
  3. ^ successful maiden flight (newatlas.com)
  4. ^ fortifying remote outposts (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ biggest of its kind in the world (www.scmp.com)
  6. ^ reported last month (www.scmp.com)
  7. ^ assist the decision-making (www.scmp.com)
  8. ^ in August 2016 (www.theguardian.com)
  9. ^ plans to open (www.popsci.com)
  10. ^ warned lawmakers (www.channelnewsasia.com)
  11. ^ first homegrown aircraft carrier (www.scmp.com)
  12. ^ electromagnetic catapult (www.scmp.com)
  13. ^ developing the Shaanxi KJ-600 (www.scmp.com)
  14. ^ at long range, (www.popsci.com)
  15. ^ deployed to Japan (edition.cnn.com)
  16. ^ less-advanced (www.defensenews.com)
  17. ^ goes beyond catapults (www.popsci.com)
  18. ^ reported by the Drive (www.thedrive.com)
  19. ^ soon emerged (www.thedrive.com)
  20. ^ tested experimental railguns (www.thedrive.com)
  21. ^ reaching speeds of (news.usni.org)
  22. ^ use powerful magnetic fields (www.popsci.com)
  23. ^ prevent their proliferation (www.rand.org)
  24. ^ reported by the Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  25. ^ stop short of entering space (www.popularmechanics.com)
  26. ^ operational by 2020 (www.scmp.com)
  27. ^ reported in January (www.scmp.com)
  28. ^ scientific research only (www.ecns.cn)
  29. ^ clearly a military base. (qz.com)
  30. ^ conducted a test (www.thedrive.com)
  31. ^ second-generation exoskeleton (www.popsci.com)
0

Former Homeland Security chief: Internet companies should regulate content, not government

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”

“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.

He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”

Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0

Former Homeland Security chief: Internet companies should regulate content, not government

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”

“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.

He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”

Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0

Former Homeland Security chief: Internet companies should regulate content, not government

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”

“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.

He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”

Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0

Former Homeland Security chief: Internet companies should regulate content, not government

(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”

“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.

He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”

Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0

Former Homeland Security chief: Internet companies should regulate content, not government

(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.

Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”

“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.

He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.

“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”

Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”

Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0

Brazil's Military Is Put in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro

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RIO DE JANEIRO — After months of escalating violence in Rio de Janeiro that included television coverage of tourists being chased and beaten by robbers during the famed Carnival festivities, Brazil’s president on Friday ordered the military to take control of public security in the state.

It is the first federal intervention in a state since Brazil’s return to democracy in the 1980s, and it is seen by some as a bid by the president[1], Michel Temer, to improve his favorability ratings rather than as a measure to tackle crime.

The decree signed by Mr. Temer on Friday afternoon falls short of a full intervention in the state government. While the military will take control of security, Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezão will continue to run the state government of Rio de Janeiro.

“This decision is motivated more by politics than sound public administration,” said Kennedy Alencar, a political commentator and blogger in Brasília, Brazil’s capital. “Now the focus of news will be on the president’s federal intervention to address an issue that concerns the whole country.”

The decision was made two days after the end of Carnival, when about 1.5 million tourists descended on Rio, Brazil’s second-largest city, for the annual parades and partying. But this year the festivities were marred by mass robberies, the looting of stores and shootouts between the police and drug gangs.

The decree confers broad authority on the military to restore order. It also places police forces, which have had shortages of personnel and equipment, under the command of a general, Walter Souza Braga Netto, who oversees military operations in the eastern part of the country.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Mr. Temer said at the signing ceremony in Brasília. “Prison cells will no longer be thieves’ personal offices. Public squares will no longer be the reception halls for organized crime.”

Experts questioned the timing and motivation of the decision. It comes as Mr. Temer, who took office after his predecessor was impeached in 2016, has been weighing whether he has a chance of being elected president in October, despite his single-digit approval numbers.

According to a poll last month, 38 percent of Brazilians said public security was a major concern as they considered whom to vote for. In Rio de Janeiro, violent crime, after gradually declining for almost a decade, has surged in the past two years[2].

In 2017, there were 6,731 violent deaths in the state of Rio, or 40 per 100,000 residents — the highest level in eight years. Carjackings, robberies of cellphones and kidnappings also increased.

The decree not only shows Mr. Temer being tough on crime, it also delays a vote on an unpopular legislative proposal on pensions that looked increasingly doomed to failure. Under the Constitution, Brazilian lawmakers are barred from making broad legal changes during a military intervention imposed by decree.

“On the political level, Temer might be killing two birds with one stone,” said Christopher Harig, an expert on civilian-military relations in Brazil at King’s College London. “At the same time he creates an excuse for not being able to pass the social security reform.”

Mr. Temer, who announced that he would travel to Rio on Saturday for a meeting on security, insisted that the pension overhaul could still be voted on by temporarily lifting the decree.

Brazil’s military leaders have expressed deep concern as the federal government has increasingly turned to the armed forces to quell outbreaks of violence around the country.

Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, the country’s top military commander, said recently that the armed forces could not be expected to solve a security crisis rooted in longstanding problems that other government agencies had failed to meaningfully address.

“Combating organized crime requires effective action by the government in economic and social spheres, in order to make drug trafficking less appealing in areas where a large segment of the population is grappling with unemployment,” General Bôas wrote in an email.

“Even as the military has been called to act in different areas, sometimes for lengthy periods,” he added, “we don’t observe considerable changes due to lack of engagement by government agencies responsible for other areas.”

After Brazil was selected to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, officials adopted an ambitious plan to transform poor districts that had long been hubs for drug gangs by adopting a community policing model that was supposed to pave the way for better schools, sanitation, health care and jobs.

Those plans fell short amid pervasive corruption, and Brazil entered a long recession that left the state of Rio de Janeiro bankrupt.

General Bôas also warned that permanently deploying military personnel to the front lines of Rio’s drug wars increased the risk that soldiers might become complicit in organized crime.

“These criminal structures, especially those linked to drug trafficking with international ties, make it far more likely that institutions will become tainted,” he said in his email. “There’s a possibility that troops could become tainted.”

In Mexico, the use of the military to fight organized crime has produced mixed results. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderón, then the president, first authorized the use of the military, more than 200,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, according to official statistics, prompting the United Nations to declare that “there is an urgent need to decrease the involvement of the military in policing.”

In Rio, as the police have lost control of large areas, well-armed drug gangs have acted as the de facto authority in several teeming communities known as favelas. Critics accuse the police of using heavy-handed tactics, limiting their effectiveness, and say some members of the force have colluded with criminal organizations.

For Rita de Cassia Santos de Silva, a 53-year-old street cleaner, the military would be an improvement over the police.

“I’m afraid of the police,” she said. “They go in and take whatever they want. I think people really only obey the army.”

But Raquel da Silva, a newspaper vendor, said she did not have high expectations. “The situation is out of control,” she said. “People are getting killed for a cellphone. But it’s not up to the police or the army — the problem lies much higher up. For us in poor communities, it’s just going to get worse.”

This is the first time such a decree has been issued since the Constitution was formed in 1988, at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, although the armed forces have become something of a fixture in Rio. They have been called in to support the police during special events like the Summer Olympics in 2016, when more than 80,000 officers, soldiers, traffic officers and firefighters provided security for the Games.

“We have seen the effect of using military to police Rio,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. “There was a significant increase in human rights violations, especially in the case of young black men.”

Under the Constitution, military intervention in a state can be decreed for a number of reasons, including when a foreign country invades Brazil, when the government wants to prevent secession or when there is a “serious” threat to public order.

Over the past few days, Brazilian television stations have broadcast images of bloody shootouts in the city’s favelas, and of Carnival tourists being chased down Ipanema Beach and beaten by robbers.

Governor Pezão acknowledged that the deployment of 17,000 police officers was not enough. “We weren’t prepared,” he told TV Globo.

The decree will be sent to Congress and requires approval by a simple majority in both houses within 10 days before it can be implemented. According to news media reports, the armed forces will be in charge of security until Dec. 31.

Ernesto Londoño reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Shasta Darlington from São Paulo, Brazil. Lis Moriconi contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

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References

  1. ^ president (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ surged in the past two years (www.nytimes.com)
0

Brazil's Military Is Put in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro

Advertisement

RIO DE JANEIRO — After months of escalating violence in Rio de Janeiro that included television coverage of tourists being chased and beaten by robbers during the famed Carnival festivities, Brazil’s president on Friday ordered the military to take control of public security in the state.

It is the first federal intervention in a state since Brazil’s return to democracy in the 1980s, and it is seen by some as a bid by the president[1], Michel Temer, to improve his favorability ratings rather than as a measure to tackle crime.

The decree signed by Mr. Temer on Friday afternoon falls short of a full intervention in the state government. While the military will take control of security, Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezão will continue to run the state government of Rio de Janeiro.

“This decision is motivated more by politics than sound public administration,” said Kennedy Alencar, a political commentator and blogger in Brasília, Brazil’s capital. “Now the focus of news will be on the president’s federal intervention to address an issue that concerns the whole country.”

The decision was made two days after the end of Carnival, when about 1.5 million tourists descended on Rio, Brazil’s second-largest city, for the annual parades and partying. But this year the festivities were marred by mass robberies, the looting of stores and shootouts between the police and drug gangs.

The decree confers broad authority on the military to restore order. It also places police forces, which have had shortages of personnel and equipment, under the command of a general, Walter Souza Braga Netto, who oversees military operations in the eastern part of the country.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Mr. Temer said at the signing ceremony in Brasília. “Prison cells will no longer be thieves’ personal offices. Public squares will no longer be the reception halls for organized crime.”

Experts questioned the timing and motivation of the decision. It comes as Mr. Temer, who took office after his predecessor was impeached in 2016, has been weighing whether he has a chance of being elected president in October, despite his single-digit approval numbers.

According to a poll last month, 38 percent of Brazilians said public security was a major concern as they considered whom to vote for. In Rio de Janeiro, violent crime, after gradually declining for almost a decade, has surged in the past two years[2].

In 2017, there were 6,731 violent deaths in the state of Rio, or 40 per 100,000 residents — the highest level in eight years. Carjackings, robberies of cellphones and kidnappings also increased.

The decree not only shows Mr. Temer being tough on crime, it also delays a vote on an unpopular legislative proposal on pensions that looked increasingly doomed to failure. Under the Constitution, Brazilian lawmakers are barred from making broad legal changes during a military intervention imposed by decree.

“On the political level, Temer might be killing two birds with one stone,” said Christopher Harig, an expert on civilian-military relations in Brazil at King’s College London. “At the same time he creates an excuse for not being able to pass the social security reform.”

Mr. Temer, who announced that he would travel to Rio on Saturday for a meeting on security, insisted that the pension overhaul could still be voted on by temporarily lifting the decree.

Brazil’s military leaders have expressed deep concern as the federal government has increasingly turned to the armed forces to quell outbreaks of violence around the country.

Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, the country’s top military commander, said recently that the armed forces could not be expected to solve a security crisis rooted in longstanding problems that other government agencies had failed to meaningfully address.

“Combating organized crime requires effective action by the government in economic and social spheres, in order to make drug trafficking less appealing in areas where a large segment of the population is grappling with unemployment,” General Bôas wrote in an email.

“Even as the military has been called to act in different areas, sometimes for lengthy periods,” he added, “we don’t observe considerable changes due to lack of engagement by government agencies responsible for other areas.”

After Brazil was selected to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, officials adopted an ambitious plan to transform poor districts that had long been hubs for drug gangs by adopting a community policing model that was supposed to pave the way for better schools, sanitation, health care and jobs.

Those plans fell short amid pervasive corruption, and Brazil entered a long recession that left the state of Rio de Janeiro bankrupt.

General Bôas also warned that permanently deploying military personnel to the front lines of Rio’s drug wars increased the risk that soldiers might become complicit in organized crime.

“These criminal structures, especially those linked to drug trafficking with international ties, make it far more likely that institutions will become tainted,” he said in his email. “There’s a possibility that troops could become tainted.”

In Mexico, the use of the military to fight organized crime has produced mixed results. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderón, then the president, first authorized the use of the military, more than 200,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, according to official statistics, prompting the United Nations to declare that “there is an urgent need to decrease the involvement of the military in policing.”

In Rio, as the police have lost control of large areas, well-armed drug gangs have acted as the de facto authority in several teeming communities known as favelas. Critics accuse the police of using heavy-handed tactics, limiting their effectiveness, and say some members of the force have colluded with criminal organizations.

For Rita de Cassia Santos de Silva, a 53-year-old street cleaner, the military would be an improvement over the police.

“I’m afraid of the police,” she said. “They go in and take whatever they want. I think people really only obey the army.”

But Raquel da Silva, a newspaper vendor, said she did not have high expectations. “The situation is out of control,” she said. “People are getting killed for a cellphone. But it’s not up to the police or the army — the problem lies much higher up. For us in poor communities, it’s just going to get worse.”

This is the first time such a decree has been issued since the Constitution was formed in 1988, at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, although the armed forces have become something of a fixture in Rio. They have been called in to support the police during special events like the Summer Olympics in 2016, when more than 80,000 officers, soldiers, traffic officers and firefighters provided security for the Games.

“We have seen the effect of using military to police Rio,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. “There was a significant increase in human rights violations, especially in the case of young black men.”

Under the Constitution, military intervention in a state can be decreed for a number of reasons, including when a foreign country invades Brazil, when the government wants to prevent secession or when there is a “serious” threat to public order.

Over the past few days, Brazilian television stations have broadcast images of bloody shootouts in the city’s favelas, and of Carnival tourists being chased down Ipanema Beach and beaten by robbers.

Governor Pezão acknowledged that the deployment of 17,000 police officers was not enough. “We weren’t prepared,” he told TV Globo.

The decree will be sent to Congress and requires approval by a simple majority in both houses within 10 days before it can be implemented. According to news media reports, the armed forces will be in charge of security until Dec. 31.

Ernesto Londoño reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Shasta Darlington from São Paulo, Brazil. Lis Moriconi contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Brazil Puts Military in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe[3][4][5]

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References

  1. ^ president (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ surged in the past two years (www.nytimes.com)
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Brazil's Military Is Put in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro

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RIO DE JANEIRO — After months of escalating violence in Rio de Janeiro that included television coverage of tourists being chased and beaten by robbers during the famed Carnival festivities, Brazil’s president on Friday ordered the military to take control of public security in the state.

It is the first federal intervention in a state since Brazil’s return to democracy in the 1980s, and it is seen by some as a bid by the president[1], Michel Temer, to improve his favorability ratings rather than as a measure to tackle crime.

The decree signed by Mr. Temer on Friday afternoon falls short of a full intervention in the state government. While the military will take control of security, Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezão will continue to run the state government of Rio de Janeiro.

“This decision is motivated more by politics than sound public administration,” said Kennedy Alencar, a political commentator and blogger in Brasília, Brazil’s capital. “Now the focus of news will be on the president’s federal intervention to address an issue that concerns the whole country.”

The decision was made two days after the end of Carnival, when about 1.5 million tourists descended on Rio, Brazil’s second-largest city, for the annual parades and partying. But this year the festivities were marred by mass robberies, the looting of stores and shootouts between the police and drug gangs.

The decree confers broad authority on the military to restore order. It also places police forces, which have had shortages of personnel and equipment, under the command of a general, Walter Souza Braga Netto, who oversees military operations in the eastern part of the country.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Mr. Temer said at the signing ceremony in Brasília. “Prison cells will no longer be thieves’ personal offices. Public squares will no longer be the reception halls for organized crime.”

Experts questioned the timing and motivation of the decision. It comes as Mr. Temer, who took office after his predecessor was impeached in 2016, has been weighing whether he has a chance of being elected president in October, despite his single-digit approval numbers.

According to a poll last month, 38 percent of Brazilians said public security was a major concern as they considered whom to vote for. In Rio de Janeiro, violent crime, after gradually declining for almost a decade, has surged in the past two years[2].

In 2017, there were 6,731 violent deaths in the state of Rio, or 40 per 100,000 residents — the highest level in eight years. Carjackings, robberies of cellphones and kidnappings also increased.

The decree not only shows Mr. Temer being tough on crime, it also delays a vote on an unpopular legislative proposal on pensions that looked increasingly doomed to failure. Under the Constitution, Brazilian lawmakers are barred from making broad legal changes during a military intervention imposed by decree.

“On the political level, Temer might be killing two birds with one stone,” said Christopher Harig, an expert on civilian-military relations in Brazil at King’s College London. “At the same time he creates an excuse for not being able to pass the social security reform.”

Mr. Temer, who announced that he would travel to Rio on Saturday for a meeting on security, insisted that the pension overhaul could still be voted on by temporarily lifting the decree.

Brazil’s military leaders have expressed deep concern as the federal government has increasingly turned to the armed forces to quell outbreaks of violence around the country.

Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, the country’s top military commander, said recently that the armed forces could not be expected to solve a security crisis rooted in longstanding problems that other government agencies had failed to meaningfully address.

“Combating organized crime requires effective action by the government in economic and social spheres, in order to make drug trafficking less appealing in areas where a large segment of the population is grappling with unemployment,” General Bôas wrote in an email.

“Even as the military has been called to act in different areas, sometimes for lengthy periods,” he added, “we don’t observe considerable changes due to lack of engagement by government agencies responsible for other areas.”

After Brazil was selected to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, officials adopted an ambitious plan to transform poor districts that had long been hubs for drug gangs by adopting a community policing model that was supposed to pave the way for better schools, sanitation, health care and jobs.

Those plans fell short amid pervasive corruption, and Brazil entered a long recession that left the state of Rio de Janeiro bankrupt.

General Bôas also warned that permanently deploying military personnel to the front lines of Rio’s drug wars increased the risk that soldiers might become complicit in organized crime.

“These criminal structures, especially those linked to drug trafficking with international ties, make it far more likely that institutions will become tainted,” he said in his email. “There’s a possibility that troops could become tainted.”

In Mexico, the use of the military to fight organized crime has produced mixed results. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderón, then the president, first authorized the use of the military, more than 200,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, according to official statistics, prompting the United Nations to declare that “there is an urgent need to decrease the involvement of the military in policing.”

In Rio, as the police have lost control of large areas, well-armed drug gangs have acted as the de facto authority in several teeming communities known as favelas. Critics accuse the police of using heavy-handed tactics, limiting their effectiveness, and say some members of the force have colluded with criminal organizations.

For Rita de Cassia Santos de Silva, a 53-year-old street cleaner, the military would be an improvement over the police.

“I’m afraid of the police,” she said. “They go in and take whatever they want. I think people really only obey the army.”

But Raquel da Silva, a newspaper vendor, said she did not have high expectations. “The situation is out of control,” she said. “People are getting killed for a cellphone. But it’s not up to the police or the army — the problem lies much higher up. For us in poor communities, it’s just going to get worse.”

This is the first time such a decree has been issued since the Constitution was formed in 1988, at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, although the armed forces have become something of a fixture in Rio. They have been called in to support the police during special events like the Summer Olympics in 2016, when more than 80,000 officers, soldiers, traffic officers and firefighters provided security for the Games.

“We have seen the effect of using military to police Rio,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. “There was a significant increase in human rights violations, especially in the case of young black men.”

Under the Constitution, military intervention in a state can be decreed for a number of reasons, including when a foreign country invades Brazil, when the government wants to prevent secession or when there is a “serious” threat to public order.

Over the past few days, Brazilian television stations have broadcast images of bloody shootouts in the city’s favelas, and of Carnival tourists being chased down Ipanema Beach and beaten by robbers.

Governor Pezão acknowledged that the deployment of 17,000 police officers was not enough. “We weren’t prepared,” he told TV Globo.

The decree will be sent to Congress and requires approval by a simple majority in both houses within 10 days before it can be implemented. According to news media reports, the armed forces will be in charge of security until Dec. 31.

Ernesto Londoño reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Shasta Darlington from São Paulo, Brazil. Lis Moriconi contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Brazil Puts Military in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe[3][4][5]

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References

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0

Brazil's Military Is Put in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro

Advertisement

RIO DE JANEIRO — After months of escalating violence in Rio de Janeiro that included television coverage of tourists being chased and beaten by robbers during the famed Carnival festivities, Brazil’s president on Friday ordered the military to take control of public security in the state.

It is the first federal intervention in a state since Brazil’s return to democracy in the 1980s, and it is seen by some as a bid by the president[1], Michel Temer, to improve his favorability ratings rather than as a measure to tackle crime.

The decree signed by Mr. Temer on Friday afternoon falls short of a full intervention in the state government. While the military will take control of security, Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezão will continue to run the state government of Rio de Janeiro.

“This decision is motivated more by politics than sound public administration,” said Kennedy Alencar, a political commentator and blogger in Brasília, Brazil’s capital. “Now the focus of news will be on the president’s federal intervention to address an issue that concerns the whole country.”

The decision was made two days after the end of Carnival, when about 1.5 million tourists descended on Rio, Brazil’s second-largest city, for the annual parades and partying. But this year the festivities were marred by mass robberies, the looting of stores and shootouts between the police and drug gangs.

The decree confers broad authority on the military to restore order. It also places police forces, which have had shortages of personnel and equipment, under the command of a general, Walter Souza Braga Netto, who oversees military operations in the eastern part of the country.

“Together, the police and the armed forces will combat and confront those who have kidnapped our cities,” Mr. Temer said at the signing ceremony in Brasília. “Prison cells will no longer be thieves’ personal offices. Public squares will no longer be the reception halls for organized crime.”

Experts questioned the timing and motivation of the decision. It comes as Mr. Temer, who took office after his predecessor was impeached in 2016, has been weighing whether he has a chance of being elected president in October, despite his single-digit approval numbers.

According to a poll last month, 38 percent of Brazilians said public security was a major concern as they considered whom to vote for. In Rio de Janeiro, violent crime, after gradually declining for almost a decade, has surged in the past two years[2].

In 2017, there were 6,731 violent deaths in the state of Rio, or 40 per 100,000 residents — the highest level in eight years. Carjackings, robberies of cellphones and kidnappings also increased.

The decree not only shows Mr. Temer being tough on crime, it also delays a vote on an unpopular legislative proposal on pensions that looked increasingly doomed to failure. Under the Constitution, Brazilian lawmakers are barred from making broad legal changes during a military intervention imposed by decree.

“On the political level, Temer might be killing two birds with one stone,” said Christopher Harig, an expert on civilian-military relations in Brazil at King’s College London. “At the same time he creates an excuse for not being able to pass the social security reform.”

Mr. Temer, who announced that he would travel to Rio on Saturday for a meeting on security, insisted that the pension overhaul could still be voted on by temporarily lifting the decree.

Brazil’s military leaders have expressed deep concern as the federal government has increasingly turned to the armed forces to quell outbreaks of violence around the country.

Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, the country’s top military commander, said recently that the armed forces could not be expected to solve a security crisis rooted in longstanding problems that other government agencies had failed to meaningfully address.

“Combating organized crime requires effective action by the government in economic and social spheres, in order to make drug trafficking less appealing in areas where a large segment of the population is grappling with unemployment,” General Bôas wrote in an email.

“Even as the military has been called to act in different areas, sometimes for lengthy periods,” he added, “we don’t observe considerable changes due to lack of engagement by government agencies responsible for other areas.”

After Brazil was selected to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, officials adopted an ambitious plan to transform poor districts that had long been hubs for drug gangs by adopting a community policing model that was supposed to pave the way for better schools, sanitation, health care and jobs.

Those plans fell short amid pervasive corruption, and Brazil entered a long recession that left the state of Rio de Janeiro bankrupt.

General Bôas also warned that permanently deploying military personnel to the front lines of Rio’s drug wars increased the risk that soldiers might become complicit in organized crime.

“These criminal structures, especially those linked to drug trafficking with international ties, make it far more likely that institutions will become tainted,” he said in his email. “There’s a possibility that troops could become tainted.”

In Mexico, the use of the military to fight organized crime has produced mixed results. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderón, then the president, first authorized the use of the military, more than 200,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, according to official statistics, prompting the United Nations to declare that “there is an urgent need to decrease the involvement of the military in policing.”

In Rio, as the police have lost control of large areas, well-armed drug gangs have acted as the de facto authority in several teeming communities known as favelas. Critics accuse the police of using heavy-handed tactics, limiting their effectiveness, and say some members of the force have colluded with criminal organizations.

For Rita de Cassia Santos de Silva, a 53-year-old street cleaner, the military would be an improvement over the police.

“I’m afraid of the police,” she said. “They go in and take whatever they want. I think people really only obey the army.”

But Raquel da Silva, a newspaper vendor, said she did not have high expectations. “The situation is out of control,” she said. “People are getting killed for a cellphone. But it’s not up to the police or the army — the problem lies much higher up. For us in poor communities, it’s just going to get worse.”

This is the first time such a decree has been issued since the Constitution was formed in 1988, at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, although the armed forces have become something of a fixture in Rio. They have been called in to support the police during special events like the Summer Olympics in 2016, when more than 80,000 officers, soldiers, traffic officers and firefighters provided security for the Games.

“We have seen the effect of using military to police Rio,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. “There was a significant increase in human rights violations, especially in the case of young black men.”

Under the Constitution, military intervention in a state can be decreed for a number of reasons, including when a foreign country invades Brazil, when the government wants to prevent secession or when there is a “serious” threat to public order.

Over the past few days, Brazilian television stations have broadcast images of bloody shootouts in the city’s favelas, and of Carnival tourists being chased down Ipanema Beach and beaten by robbers.

Governor Pezão acknowledged that the deployment of 17,000 police officers was not enough. “We weren’t prepared,” he told TV Globo.

The decree will be sent to Congress and requires approval by a simple majority in both houses within 10 days before it can be implemented. According to news media reports, the armed forces will be in charge of security until Dec. 31.

Ernesto Londoño reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Shasta Darlington from São Paulo, Brazil. Lis Moriconi contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Brazil Puts Military in Charge of Security in Rio de Janeiro. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe[3][4][5]

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References

  1. ^ president (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ surged in the past two years (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Order Reprints (www.nytreprints.com)
  4. ^ Today’s Paper (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Subscribe (www.nytimes.com)