REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- An M-109 Self Propelled Howitzer is a legacy weapons system for the U.S. Army. We still use a variant today, and so do many of our allies and strategic partners. So does Brazil.
"A partner like Brazil is important to us," said Summer Paquette, the Brazil Program Manager for the United States Army Security Assistance Command at Redstone Arsenal, USASAC.
Summer has been on the job with Brazil for several months, and she has been a Country Program Manager for several other countries during her time at USASAC. She said upfront that Brazil is more than just a South American neighbor.
"They were just designated a non-NATO ally, which is different from a partner. Allies are long-standing, a more formal relationship, and I think that's really important for our relationship going forward," said Paquette.
It's a relationship important enough for Lt. Col. Felipe Gervazoni Viana of the Brazilian Army to be assigned to a 2-year duty mission at Redstone Arsenal. This latest purchase is the self-propelled howitzers, but in the past Brazil has bought other equipment, like Black Hawk helicopters. A U.S. soldier working with Brazilian forces would see plenty of equipment that looks very familiar.
"It's important for them to use similar systems that we use for interoperability. So if there was ever a conflict in the future, them being our ally would work with us and so our equipment can work together and we can talk to each other and help us in the fight," said Paquette.
The equipment isn't always purchased. Sometimes it's found. Like the excess M-88 Armored Recovery Vehicles on hand at the Anniston Army Depot. They will also be headed to Brazil to haul their tanks if needed. All the deals and agreements aren't easy, or quick.
"It all takes time. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of different organizations that have to come together and work together," said Paquette.
The work has been going on for years and will continue. It's what allies do. And something else that USASAC does is provide technical support for whatever equipment passes between the U.S. and its allies.