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Marshal Castello Branco

Published: Wednesday, 03 February 2016 14:29 | Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 July 2019 13:53 | Hits: 360

"There will hardly be a richer and more comprehensive personality than President Castello Branco, who combined the energy of a chief and the vision of a statesman. He had an innate authority, despite having drunk from the fountain of human tenderness."
(our translation)

Luís Viana Filho

"The current scientists of information, in the crusade against the current world of incompetence, recommends teamwork among other measures. Around half a century ago, Col Castello Branco deeply dedicated himself to the work of command, which, in the end, is the teamwork of all the levels of military, aiming to arrive at the best decision, respecting the hierarchy. In other words, long before the world began to feel the need to annihilate its terrible incompetence, an Army Colonel was already doing his best to end or neutralize that clear threat in his profession. Genius… Without asking anything back, because it was the part of his remarkable profile." (our translation)
Francisco Ruas Santos, Centro de Informações Culturais


Some names are an indefinable mixture of simplicity and greatness. Some lives perpetuate over time as symbols set in our memories. There are men whose ideas and actions become history. Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco is one example of these men.

Born son of an illustrious military man on September 20th, 1900 in Mecejana, he completed his secondary studies at the Military College of Porto Alegre, from where he went to the Military School of Realengo.

After graduating as an infantry officer candidate in 1921, he left Rio de Janeiro and went to Belo Horizonte, where he served in the 12th Infantry Regiment. In 1924, still a Lieutenant, he attended the Officer Improvement Course and, upon returning to the 12 IR, was assigned the task of commanding a detachment, integrating the forces that would face and overcome internal rebellions which broke out in São Paulo, in 1925.

As a Captain, the intellectual capacity of Castello Branco stood out in 1931, in this School, when he was the number one student at the Army Staff Course. By his own merit, he was enrolled at the French War College and, upon returning to Brazil, concerned himself with the proper training of Army personnel, where Castello Branco performed, with excellence, the role of instructor at the Realengo Military School. He also attended the Command and Staff College of the United States.

Promoted to the post of Lieutenant-Colonel, he was part of the first chosen of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), serving as chief of FEB Operations for the General Staff Course from 1944 to 1945. After World War II, being promoted to Colonel for merit in 1945, Castello Branco returned to Brazil with the firm intention to share his professional experience with the Army officers and, upon assuming the position of Education Director at ECEME, turned it into a true center of doctrinal research.

Castello Branco devoted himself fully to the military life, performing with strong disposition, undeniable leadership and intellectual talent, several key functions in the Army, such as Command of the 8th and 10th Military Regions, Military Command of the Amazon and Head of Army Staff. In this last position, he applied all efforts against the implementation of a totalitarian regime in the country, being one of the leaders of the Democratic Revolution on March 31st, 1964.

The Statesman

Elected President of the Republic by the National Congress, on April 11th, 1964, Castello Branco was promoted to the post of Marshal of the Armed Forces, while moving to the Reserve.

The statesman emerged from the figure of the military chief raised to the Presidency of the Republic.

First, Castello Branco focused on the task of restoring order in Brazil, giving the country the necessary stable conditions to resume development.

Next, he dedicated himself to solving the serious matters the nation experienced: the economic situation, the agrarian problem, the housing issue, infrastructure services, international politics, and the restructuring and integration of the Armed Forces, among others.

Regarding military institutions, Castello Branco committed himself in the implementation of changes he considered vital for the functionality of the Armed Forces.

His unexpected death occurred in 1967, in a plane crash in Ceará state.

Brazil mourned the tragic event. The void of Castello Branco’s absence remained with all, however, his values made him admired, making him one of those great men humanity needed as a role model to grow, evolve, and become just.


Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco's name is eternally engraved in the memory of the School of Command and Staff for his extraordinary contribution to the restructuring of the military doctrine in force while he served as Education Director (1946-1949) and Commander (1954-1955).

Marechal Castello Branco organized, mainly between 1946 and 1947, the method of reasoning of the decision making process, recommended by the French Military Mission, using work structure within the command, better controlling the activities of the Commander and his Staff Officers.

When he returned to the School as a Commander, Marshal Castello Branco perfected his "Command Work" of 1948, aiming to better conform it to the characteristics of the chiefs and officers of the Brazilian General Command Staff.

Conferences such as "The War Doctrine and the Modern War" and "Security Problems" held at ECEME are milestones in the evolution of this School's doctrinal thinking..

"The value of the studies at the Army Command and General Staff College is not on what an officer does as a student, but rather what he will accomplish later. His certificate will only be worthy if his performance while developing functions conferred by this document are also worthy." (our translation)
Mar Castello Branco


"Revolution can boast about the work performed to rebuild the country. It is a human condition that our accomplishments are smaller than our desires, but our efforts were not below our duty." (our translation)

"Be aware that this House (Army Command and General Staff College) prefers much more the realistic view of the battle than abstract judgments. We, students and instructors, must be conscious that a planned maneuver has no value on itself and the only value that can be attributed to it is the fact that it is related to execution. Idea and execution are independent to define responsibilities in the Military but are nevertheless inseparable in the scope of a maneuver. Therefore, we shall work with objectivity, always seeking to complete the study of command in war with the in-depth understanding of the performance of the element that executes the war - the troop." (our translation)
(Conferência de abertura do ano letivo de 1946 na ECEME)

"The action for the Command consists in distinguishing between the opportune and the inappropriate, between the immediate and what can wait. It is not procrastinating, it is doing, boosting, ordering. It is not to be stuck in the discussion of ideas, in which the end is never reached, sometimes wandering in pessimism, others in optimism." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"The absence of ideas may not be the leader’s failure but may lead the ones he is in charge of to disaster." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"In order to be in charge of everything, the Leader needs to have ideas to motivate the job, to analyze and ask for more ideas, and to have a clear vision of results of these ideas in the planned operations." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"The art of war is very hard in practice. It is enough to say that first of all it is necessary to discern the fact and then analyze it critically, but never fail to respect it." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"There is a fundamental difference between the rational method of leadership and the one out of the leader’s weakness or vanity. There are leaders who prefer the clandestine work of assistants and then have the illusion that others think the job is theirs. The rational method, on the contrary, asserts that the assistants should not do the leader’s work and instead they work for the Leader and, above all, for the Leader." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"The word RESPONSIBILITY must be integrated in the spirit of those who enter here (the Army Command and Staff School) to undertake the task of Army Staff apprentices. It persists here at the school work. It will be the headlight of the gigantic work of the Army Staff and the leaders of all levels in solving the problems of the National Armed Forces." (our translation)
(Reflections on the work of the Command)

"Man-based combat cannot be schematic. In the art of war, a process does not have the value of a general rule, or of a principle, nor does a relative truth become an absolute truth. Military dogmatism is a disastrous resource that ignores the thought and will, the forces that conceive and decide. Wherever it is dominant, the irreversible advent of the decadence of the art of war will not take long to happen." (our translation)
(Conference of opening of the school year of 1946 at ECEME)

"Peace depends on the organization of the States. However, every country, besides fighting for peace, must add to the National Security the possibility of war. Nowadays, any conflict, in any continent, is a security problem to a country that is not directly involved in it. " (our translation)
(Aspects of Modern Warfare Conference)

"Instruction gives men his technical and tactical value. It is the basis of discipline and morality. Discipline is the driving force that articulates men in the ranks and in war. It is the adaptation of the individual will to the collective interest. It requires mutual trust and respect. Morality is the force that maintains human dignity in the soldier, coming from within himself, influenced even by his physical qualities. It also relies on the morality of its comrades. With morality, the combatant faces danger and adversity" (our translation)
(Conference at the Commercial Association of Campos)

"The military life, to be well lived, must have two characteristics: action, which gives it courage and efficiency, and time spent, which brings friendship, affection, encouragement and other good things for the spirit. From this action and time spent emerges the spirit of Arms, Body and cohesion." (our translation)
(Reflections on some military duties and military life)

"The value of the studies at the Army Command and General Staff College is not what an officer does as a student but rather what he will accomplish later. His certificate will only be worth if his performance while developing functions conferred by this document is also worthy." (our translation)
Mar Castello Branco

"The Army General Staff is thus necessarily the sponsor of the structure and doctrine of the Land Forces. Thinking and acting, it must give substance to the institution and know that both of them evolve, particularly regarding the outcome of the types and forms of the conflicts, the progress of the technique and the mutations of the national political institutions. It is therefore imperative that it lives, with thought and action, its time, identified with the spirit of the time, and not only absorbed by daily tasks, but on a way not to study the fantasy of any war, not to get behind as far as military equipment and not to be disconnected from the national political development." (our translation)

"Come to me the Brazilians and I will go with them so that, with the help of God and with serene confidence, we can seek the best days in the horizons of the future." (our translation)

"Not being formal with ideas nor afraid of new ideas, in order to incorporate or debate them, is a factor to be integrated with the spirit of your time and to always evolve. Looking up and around, the feet on the ground walk in the good cadence of the forward march. " (our translation)
(Colégio Militar de Porto Alegre, 1964)

"By our hands and by those whom touch us from the future, we will build a democracy of opportunities, continuously expressed in development with stability. True democracy in the service of an authentic Brazil, faithful to its origins and destiny, secure of its traditions and commitments. " (our translation)
(National Congress, solemn session commemorating the 1st Anniversary of the Revolution, 1965)

"Democracy presumes freedom, but it does not exclude responsibility nor gives permission to oppose the political vocation of the nation." (our translation)
(Palácio do Planalto when editing Institutional Act No. 2, 1965)

"Politics is the art of conducting the affairs of the nation-state towards national progress in the domestic and international matters." First and foremost, it has the task of interpreting the permanent and current national objectives. In order to accomplish that, it continuously reviews this interpretation and deepens itself in all national sectors as well as the international context." (our translation)
(Addressed to the new graduates of ESG, 1965)

"The people will understand, however, that a great country is not built by forgetting the permanent objectives of the nation nor caring only for the occasional goals of some demagogues, whom I did not receive applause from because I did not try to satisfy them. I am happy for having preferred the conscience of those whom do not applaud to the interest of those who applaud without conscience." (our translation)
(Visit to the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas, 1966)

"The professional of any of the three Armed Forces either evolves with the advances of his own time or is set back by various circumstances, or is marginalized, blocked by the injunctions of defending a personalistic position, coined as absolute owner of ideas, thinking his ideas are the only ones valid for his Corporation. They are worse than the ones who are left behind because they do not communicate well their thoughts and neither can debate, practically behaving as if they had no ideas. They remain isolated professionally, dissociated from evolution and absolutely inadequate to the Brazilian military reality." (our translation)
(To the officers of the 12th Infantry Regiment, 1966)

"Every university will have to be built nearby a library, like those medieval cities built next to the fortress walls. What are libraries if not the fortification of universities?" (our translation)
(Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, 1966)

"The duty of each and everyone beocmes greater according to hierarchy. It does not only proclaim the sorrows known by everyone but also points out remedies, cooperates with public or private entities in order to overcome, in the shortest term possible, the evil caused by underdevelopment." (our translation)
(Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, 1966)

"The March Revolution was not meant to stimulate the social class struggle, much less to preserve social class privileges. Its essential objectives were the modernization of our society by the reform of unjust or archaic structures, by the simultaneous combat to inflation, which steals our present, and to the stagnation, which steals our future, for the restoration of the political and social tranquility, which is essential to development and strengthening of the national power." (our translation)
(Legislative Assembly of Minas Gerais, 1966)

"I did not come to destroy, but to improve." (our translation)
(Legislative Assembly of Minas Gerais, 1966)

"The task of governing, in a phase of economic and moral reconstruction, is often to destroy taboos and banish myths to which the irresponsibility of the demagogues has given strength and popularity." (our translation)
(Inauguration of Companhia Siderúrgica Paulista, 1966)

"The general well-being of the nation is targeted by the union of all the ideas and the efforts of all the policies of attainment. The political, the economic-financial, the psycho-social, and the military are means which come together for the achievement of this dominant national goal. " (our translation)
(National Council of Economics, as guest speaker of the class that concluded the Course of Economic Analysis, 1966)

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