Tagged: events

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NCOs without joes: What it's like to serve in the Army's new adviser …

But in 2017, for the first time, the service announced that it would stand up an all-volunteer brigade[1] for noncommissioned officers and post-command officers to spend two or three years training and deploying[2] for that mission only.

The Army offered a handful of cash and administrative incentives, but for many, the chance to share and sharpen their skills — and deploy — was motivation enough.

“My personal interest and loves are culture and language,” Capt. Christopher Hawkins, the executive officer of C Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, told Army Times on Jan. 18. “The way this was pitched is, this is a way to marry that tactical experience with language and culture, to a bigger extent than you would in a typical deployment.”

The plan resembled a handful of forebears, like the Security Force Advisory and Assistance Teams and the Military Transition Teams of earlier years, temporary solutions that gave many soldiers a taste of combat advising as a job.

“This is the type of mission that I do believe in, I’ve enjoyed it in the past,” said C Company commander Maj. Jason Moncuse. “And you can actually see changes, and that’s what I like about it.”

And a solid organizational structure means that his higher-ups are invested in the work that he’s doing, because it’s their main objective as well.

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“The way it was before, you were just kind of an isolated team. What I like about this concept is, now you have higher echelons to report to,” Moncuse added. “In the past, you would just go out, you would do your thing, you would send a report — you didn’t really have interaction with higher, you didn’t have that support network to reach out to.”

The hope is SFABs[4] will give the Army a chance to make a lasting impact on developing militaries while conserving its readiness for its own brigade combat teams, who have been sending their headquarters elements downrange for the advising mission while the rest of the formation kicked around back home.

“The struggle then was maintaining continuity,” B Company, 3rd Battalion commander Capt. Justin Shaw said of his previous combat deployment. “We’d go out once a week, maybe very two weeks. So it was hard to establish that rapport from persistent advising.”

Others wanted to come back and finish what they’d started all those years ago in Afghanistan and Iraq, a time punctuated by pain and loss.

“It wasn’t all for nothing,” said Capt. Daniel Jansen, an engineer construction team leader. “Part of the SFAB, in my mind, and the reason that I wanted to go here was to contribute to that unfinished business.”

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

Capt. Kristopher Farrar, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, advises his simulated partner on maneuvering through the wood line to reach their objective during a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La. (Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/Army)

The right stuff

Members of the SFAB are required to have completed the key leadership positions for their ranks, which means that everyone has already been a battalion commander, a company commander, a team or a squad leader.

For many, the next tick on their career timeline would have been an instructor job or related broadening opportunity.

And for them, joining the SFAB was a way to stay in the fight.

“Once your platoon sergeant time is over, they’re not really in a hurry to send you back out to be a platoon sergeant, because there are other people who need it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Mayzik, C Company, 3rd Battalion team NCO-in-charge.

“I could go back out, be with soldiers, be in the field, do all the fun stuff that I signed up to do,” he added.

For some younger NCOs, it was time to branch out.

“It was a point in time in my career when I was ready to move into something new and this was it,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Senn, a cavalry scout and adviser. “This is one of the only opportunities to broaden yourself and still be a deploying part of the Army.”

For others, working in a smaller, more elite unit has already sharpened their skills.

“We get to go to a lot of courses that are not normally open to us,” said combat medic Staff Sgt. Jarrid Lovenburg, who completed the Tactical Combat Medical Care course. “Unless you’re an actual treatment NCO working at Role 1 [like a battalion aid station] or higher, you normally don’t get to go to that.”

Like any brigade combat team, members of the SFAB are predominantly male. Women have only been allowed to serve in infantry and cavalry units — two of the biggest sources of SFAB soldiers — since 2016.

But in addition to small teams of 11Bs and 19Ds, the SFAB also has the full complement of gender-integrated support staff, from medical to personnel to supply.

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

Spc. John Ellis, an explosive ordnance specialist with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, helps an Afghan National Army role player learn to deactivate an improvised explosive device during a simulated scenario at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (Pfc. Zoe Garbarino/Army)

To fill some of these positions, the Army reached down into its records to find the best people in their skill areas to bring to Afghanistan.

One of them is Sgt. Diego Gantivar, a wheeled vehicle mechanic who has never been in combat, but had 20 years as a civilian mechanic before he enlisted.

Earlier in 2017, his sergeant major called him in to tell him he’d come up on a list of good candidates for combat advising.

“I probably consider myself one of the most qualified mechanics in the United States Army,” he said.

He’ll be tasked with teaching Afghan troops to repair and maintain their vehicles, starting with problem one: An unreliable supply chain.

“When I went to selection, they already had notified me that was one of their problems,” he said. “On my CAT team, our clerk, he’s usually the one that gets the part in your regular motor pool. With him and I, we’re going to try to find, where’s that missed connection? Why are they not getting their parts?”

Sweeping, hauling, stacking

Everyone in the SFAB is an E-5 and above. Thanks to the Army’s promotion incentive, specialists who sign up are awarded full promotion points and an automatic bump once they finish the Military Training Adviser Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia.

This has its good and bad points, members told Army Times.

“In this type of unit, it doesn’t matter — officer, enlisted, NCO — everybody is a high-quality individual,” Moncuse said. “No one needs extra attention.”

This is rare in any formation, let alone combat arms. Multiple leaders expressed delight in commanding a unit where you tell a subordinate to do something once, and it’s done.

Having a brigade full of above-average PT performers, who have experience tying up every loose end before a deployment, brings down the time the units have to spend on administrative noise.

“That has given us maximum time to focus on the mission at hand,” Moncuse said. “It allowed us to go from zero to where we are now in a matter of months.”

From a senior leader perspective, there are positives and negatives, 3rd Battalion commander Lt. Col. Ian Palmer told Army Times.

“The advantages are that the overall maturity of the organization is a lot higher,” he said. “There are things that you don’t have to say to an organization like this — they automatically know.”

The downside, Palmer said, is that you don’t get the same mentoring relationship that leaders have with their junior soldiers.

There’s also a noticeable lack of readily available labor.

You see it everywhere at FOB Warrior, where the teams plan events and eat two hot meals together every day.

After breakfast, a sergeant first class folds chairs and puts them up on tables.

“And if you want to see two captains, a sergeant first class and a sergeant sweeping the motor pool — I’ve carried more tough boxes in the last six months than I imagined I would in my entire life,” Hawkins said.

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Former HPD assistant chief named city's homeland security director …

  • George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

  • Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

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Image 1 of 3 | George Buenik

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

Image 2 of 3 | George Buenik

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Image 3 of 3

Former HPD assistant chief named city’s homeland security director

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A former high-ranking Houston Police Department veteran will lead the mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, overseeing emergency management and coordinating among the agencies for high-profile events such as hurricanes and Super Bowls, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

George T. Buenik, 58, takes over for the retiring director Dennis Storemski, who has held the position since 2005.

“Houston needs someone with strong leadership skills and extensive experience in emergency preparedness and crisis management to lead the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, especially after Hurricane Harvey and other major events in the city,” Turner said. “I am confident George Buenik has the strategic vision to take charge before, during and after the next crisis.”

Buenik spent 34 years with the Houston Police Department and last year served as the chairman of the 2017 Houston Super Bowl Public Safety Committee. He left HPD last year in a wave of retirements.

“My number one priority will be to keep this city safe and secure,” Buenik said. “I will work closely with Mayor Turner and other city directors to ensure we are properly prepared to respond to and mitigate all disasters and major emergencies.”

In his new role, Buenik said he wants to ensure the city has adequate plans to deal with active shooters and the proper preparation for major disasters.

“Nationally right now, there’s a lot of media coverage on active shooters, and so I think police agencies and cities around the country have to come up with a plan to combat active shooters,” he said. “You react as you’re trained.”

Buenik’s new responsibilities will include overseeing the Office of Emergency Management, Houston’s Emergency Communications Center, the city’s homeland security activities and Houston Crackdown, a city program that coordinates volunteer projects in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

Former colleagues praised Buenik’s years of leadership at HPD and his experience planning homeland security preparations for large-scale events like the Final Four, the Chevron Houston Marathon or last year’s Super Bowl LI.

“He is a strategic and critical thinker and he was one of the best emergency planners in the Houston Police Department, especially when it comes to large-scale events,” said former Chief Charles A. McClelland.

Houston Police Officers Union President Joseph Gamaldi praised the choice.

“Everyone’s been generally supportive,” Gamaldi said. “We think he’ll do a good job in that position.”

Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Buenik’s experience with other city agencies would be an asset in his new job, where he will need to network, coordinate public safety needs and focus on planning, preparation, mitigation and response to emergencies.

“He understand’s the city’s needs,” Peña said.

Before retiring from HPD in 2017, Buenik rose to the level of executive assistant chief, overseeing homeland security, criminal intelligence, the joint terrorism task force, dignitary executive protection and other responsibilities.

He replaces Storemski, who served 38 years as a Houston police officer before taking over the homeland security post in 2005. Turner said the outgoing director had a “tremendous impact” on Houston.

For his part, Storemski said he had been blessed to work in HPD and then in the post in the mayor’s office.

“How many people can say that they spent a long career being paid for something you love doing? I can,” he told City Council when he announced last month that he was retiring. “How many people can say they spent their entire career and have no regrets?”

St. John Barned-Smith[1] covers public safety and major breaking news for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter[2] and Facebook[3]. Send tips to [email protected][4].

References

  1. ^ St. John Barned-Smith (www.houstonchronicle.com)
  2. ^ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
  3. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  4. ^ [email protected] (www.chron.com)
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Former HPD assistant chief named city's homeland security director …

  • George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

  • Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Image 1of/3

Caption

Close

Image 1 of 3 | George Buenik

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

Image 2 of 3 | George Buenik

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Image 3 of 3

Former HPD assistant chief named city’s homeland security director

Back to Gallery

A former high-ranking Houston Police Department veteran will lead the mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, overseeing emergency management and coordinating among the agencies for high-profile events such as hurricanes and Super Bowls, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

George T. Buenik, 58, takes over for the retiring director Dennis Storemski, who has held the position since 2005.

“Houston needs someone with strong leadership skills and extensive experience in emergency preparedness and crisis management to lead the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, especially after Hurricane Harvey and other major events in the city,” Turner said. “I am confident George Buenik has the strategic vision to take charge before, during and after the next crisis.”

Buenik spent 34 years with the Houston Police Department and last year served as the chairman of the 2017 Houston Super Bowl Public Safety Committee. He left HPD last year in a wave of retirements.

“My number one priority will be to keep this city safe and secure,” Buenik said. “I will work closely with Mayor Turner and other city directors to ensure we are properly prepared to respond to and mitigate all disasters and major emergencies.”

In his new role, Buenik said he wants to ensure the city has adequate plans to deal with active shooters and the proper preparation for major disasters.

“Nationally right now, there’s a lot of media coverage on active shooters, and so I think police agencies and cities around the country have to come up with a plan to combat active shooters,” he said. “You react as you’re trained.”

Buenik’s new responsibilities will include overseeing the Office of Emergency Management, Houston’s Emergency Communications Center, the city’s homeland security activities and Houston Crackdown, a city program that coordinates volunteer projects in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

Former colleagues praised Buenik’s years of leadership at HPD and his experience planning homeland security preparations for large-scale events like the Final Four, the Chevron Houston Marathon or last year’s Super Bowl LI.

“He is a strategic and critical thinker and he was one of the best emergency planners in the Houston Police Department, especially when it comes to large-scale events,” said former Chief Charles A. McClelland.

Houston Police Officers Union President Joseph Gamaldi praised the choice.

“Everyone’s been generally supportive,” Gamaldi said. “We think he’ll do a good job in that position.”

Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Buenik’s experience with other city agencies would be an asset in his new job, where he will need to network, coordinate public safety needs and focus on planning, preparation, mitigation and response to emergencies.

“He understand’s the city’s needs,” Peña said.

Before retiring from HPD in 2017, Buenik rose to the level of executive assistant chief, overseeing homeland security, criminal intelligence, the joint terrorism task force, dignitary executive protection and other responsibilities.

He replaces Storemski, who served 38 years as a Houston police officer before taking over the homeland security post in 2005. Turner said the outgoing director had a “tremendous impact” on Houston.

For his part, Storemski said he had been blessed to work in HPD and then in the post in the mayor’s office.

“How many people can say that they spent a long career being paid for something you love doing? I can,” he told City Council when he announced last month that he was retiring. “How many people can say they spent their entire career and have no regrets?”

St. John Barned-Smith[1] covers public safety and major breaking news for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter[2] and Facebook[3]. Send tips to [email protected][4].

References

  1. ^ St. John Barned-Smith (www.houstonchronicle.com)
  2. ^ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
  3. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  4. ^ [email protected] (www.chron.com)
0

Former HPD assistant chief named city's homeland security director …

  • George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

  • Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Image 1of/3

Caption

Close

Image 1 of 3 | George Buenik

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

Image 2 of 3 | George Buenik

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Image 3 of 3

Former HPD assistant chief named city’s homeland security director

Back to Gallery

A former high-ranking Houston Police Department veteran will lead the mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, overseeing emergency management and coordinating among the agencies for high-profile events such as hurricanes and Super Bowls, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

George T. Buenik, 58, takes over for the retiring director Dennis Storemski, who has held the position since 2005.

“Houston needs someone with strong leadership skills and extensive experience in emergency preparedness and crisis management to lead the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, especially after Hurricane Harvey and other major events in the city,” Turner said. “I am confident George Buenik has the strategic vision to take charge before, during and after the next crisis.”

Buenik spent 34 years with the Houston Police Department and last year served as the chairman of the 2017 Houston Super Bowl Public Safety Committee. He left HPD last year in a wave of retirements.

“My number one priority will be to keep this city safe and secure,” Buenik said. “I will work closely with Mayor Turner and other city directors to ensure we are properly prepared to respond to and mitigate all disasters and major emergencies.”

In his new role, Buenik said he wants to ensure the city has adequate plans to deal with active shooters and the proper preparation for major disasters.

“Nationally right now, there’s a lot of media coverage on active shooters, and so I think police agencies and cities around the country have to come up with a plan to combat active shooters,” he said. “You react as you’re trained.”

Buenik’s new responsibilities will include overseeing the Office of Emergency Management, Houston’s Emergency Communications Center, the city’s homeland security activities and Houston Crackdown, a city program that coordinates volunteer projects in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

Former colleagues praised Buenik’s years of leadership at HPD and his experience planning homeland security preparations for large-scale events like the Final Four, the Chevron Houston Marathon or last year’s Super Bowl LI.

“He is a strategic and critical thinker and he was one of the best emergency planners in the Houston Police Department, especially when it comes to large-scale events,” said former Chief Charles A. McClelland.

Houston Police Officers Union President Joseph Gamaldi praised the choice.

“Everyone’s been generally supportive,” Gamaldi said. “We think he’ll do a good job in that position.”

Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Buenik’s experience with other city agencies would be an asset in his new job, where he will need to network, coordinate public safety needs and focus on planning, preparation, mitigation and response to emergencies.

“He understand’s the city’s needs,” Peña said.

Before retiring from HPD in 2017, Buenik rose to the level of executive assistant chief, overseeing homeland security, criminal intelligence, the joint terrorism task force, dignitary executive protection and other responsibilities.

He replaces Storemski, who served 38 years as a Houston police officer before taking over the homeland security post in 2005. Turner said the outgoing director had a “tremendous impact” on Houston.

For his part, Storemski said he had been blessed to work in HPD and then in the post in the mayor’s office.

“How many people can say that they spent a long career being paid for something you love doing? I can,” he told City Council when he announced last month that he was retiring. “How many people can say they spent their entire career and have no regrets?”

St. John Barned-Smith[1] covers public safety and major breaking news for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter[2] and Facebook[3]. Send tips to [email protected][4].

References

  1. ^ St. John Barned-Smith (www.houstonchronicle.com)
  2. ^ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
  3. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  4. ^ [email protected] (www.chron.com)
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Frustrated Military Tribunal Judge Indefinitely Halts Cole Bombing Case

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WASHINGTON — A deeply frustrated military judge on Friday halted the effort to use a military tribunal to prosecute a Guantánamo Bay detainee accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole, bringing the already troubled case to an indefinite standstill.

The judge, Col. Vance Spath of the Air Force, suspended pretrial hearings in the death penalty case against the detainee, a Saudi named Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, after nearly the entire defense team quit late last year in a dispute over whether their attorney-client communications were subject to monitoring. The lawyers defied his orders to return, citing ethical obligations.

“I am abating these proceedings indefinitely,” Colonel Spath said, according to a transcript[1]. “I will tell you right now, the reason I’m not dismissing — I debated it for hours — I am not rewarding the defense for their clear misbehavior and misconduct. But I am abating these procedures — these proceedings indefinitely until a superior court orders me to resume.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, said it was “unknown when pretrial hearings will begin again.”

The Miami Herald first reported[2] Colonel Spath’s decision.

Mr. Nashiri was arraigned in 2011 in a case that centers on a ship attack that killed 17 sailors. His is one of two capital cases in the military commissions system, alongside the attempt to prosecute five detainees who were arraigned in 2012 on charges of aiding the Sept. 11 attacks. Both cases have been stuck in pretrial hearings.

When the Bush administration created the military commissions system in 2001, a debate erupted that was centered on individual rights. Proponents saw the tribunals as a means for meting out swift justice to terrorists, while human rights advocates feared that they would run roughshod over fair-trial protections.

As the years have passed, however, the focus has shifted to effectiveness. While the commissions system has achieved several convictions through plea deals, it has struggled to get contested cases to trial, and has been costing taxpayers about $100 million a year for three cases covering seven defendants. (Its third pretrial case is against an Iraqi detainee who was arraigned in 2014[3]; he is not facing capital charges.)

By contrast, civilian court prosecutors have routinely gotten terrorism cases to trial relatively quickly and won harsh sentences. On Friday, for example, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced a Qaeda terrorist known as Spin Ghul[4] to life in prison[5] for killing two American service members in Afghanistan and for plotting to bomb an American embassy in West Africa; he was convicted last March after a civilian court trial.

According to the transcript in the Cole case, Colonel Spath said the events that had led to its derailment “have demonstrated significant flaws within the commissions process,” and he accused defense lawyers of trying to block the system rather than working within it.

Citing his 26 years working in the regular court-martial system, he also described himself as “shaken” by the experience and portrayed Mr. Nashiri’s onetime defense lawyers as pursuing a “revolution to the system” by defying judicial orders.

Earlier this week, he had weighed having[6] United States marshals seize two of Mr. Nashiri’s former lawyers — both civilian employees of the Pentagon — to force them to appear by video link from Virginia after they failed to comply with subpoenas, but decided against it.

On Friday, he argued that in his efforts to get Mr. Nashiri’s defense lawyers back to work on the case, “I’m not ordering the Third Reich to engage in genocide — this isn’t My Lai.” And he said he was weighing imminent retirement.

The latest trouble began in June, when Mr. Nashiri’s defense team discovered something in a room where they talked with their client. The details remain classified, but after Colonel Spath rejected the notion that there was a problem and tried to proceed, the civilians on Mr. Nashiri’s defense team quit in October, saying they had an ethical conflict.

That left only a junior, uniformed defense lawyer, Lt. Alaric Piette of the Navy. Lieutenant Piette has continued to appear in court but has not participated, arguing that he was unqualified and that the presence of a “learned counsel,” or death penalty specialist, is necessary — a contention Colonel Spath rejected.

Colonel Spath in November declared Brig. Gen. John Baker, who oversees military commissions defense lawyers, in contempt of court for refusing to order the two civilian Pentagon employees to resume work on the case. The general argued that he had the authority to dismiss them without the judge’s consent — another contention Colonel Spath rejected.

Colonel Spath ordered General Baker confined to a trailer and fined him, but after several days, Harvey Rishikof, a former civilian Pentagon official who was then the so-called convening authority overseeing the commissions system, freed the general and overturned the fine[7], although he left the contempt finding in place.

In doing so, Mr. Rishikof also recommended that the military build or designate a “clean” facility to provide confidence that “the attorney-client meeting spaces are not subject to monitoring.” (This month, Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, abruptly fired Mr. Rishikof without explanation[8].)

On Thursday, Colonel Spath questioned Paul S. Koffsky, a senior civilian Pentagon lawyer who oversees the office of military commissions defense lawyers. Mr. Koffsky told the judge[9] that he only writes performance appraisals and does not tell defense lawyers what to do, and had not read the filings about the confidentiality dispute, a transcript shows[10].

“We need action from somebody other than me, and we’re not getting it,” Colonel Spath said on Friday, adding, “We’re going to spin our wheels and go nowhere until somebody who owns the process looks in and does something.”

Richard Kammen, a civilian defense lawyer who had been the death penalty specialist for Mr. Nashiri before quitting, said: “We’re certainly gratified that ultimately Judge Spath reached the correct decision that the case needs to stop. This should have happened months ago.”

Lieutenant Piette said that he expected the case to resume this year, probably without Colonel Spath as the judge. In the meantime, he said, he would try to take death penalty courses and get caught up on years of rulings in the case.

“I’m cautiously pessimistic,” he said. “Things happen here that don’t go on in normal courts, and this is one. A judge just called ‘time out’ for no clear legal reason. I don’t know how it will play out, but it will probably somehow be worse.”

Dave Philipps contributed reporting from Colorado Springs.

Follow Charlie Savage on Twitter: @charlie_savage[11].

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References

  1. ^ transcript (www.documentcloud.org)
  2. ^ Miami Herald first reported (www.miamiherald.com)
  3. ^ an Iraqi detainee who was arraigned in 2014 (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ sentenced a Qaeda terrorist known as Spin Ghul (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ life in prison (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ had weighed having (www.miamiherald.com)
  7. ^ freed the general and overturned the fine (www.documentcloud.org)
  8. ^ abruptly fired Mr. Rishikof without explanation (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ told the judge (www.documentcloud.org)
  10. ^ transcript shows (www.documentcloud.org)
  11. ^ @charlie_savage (twitter.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

  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)
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.

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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)
  3. ^ Order Reprints (www.nytreprints.com)
  4. ^ Today’s Paper (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Subscribe (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]

Advertisement

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)
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 embattled 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 sweeping 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 sweeping 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 drawn up in 1988, at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, although the armed forces have become something of a fixture in the 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 affect 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 take force. 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. ^ embattled president (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ surged in the past two years (www.nytimes.com)