Although not without its problems, Brazil has become increasingly influential throughout Latin America and beyond as a military power. Brazil has long been the most populous nation in South American, and possessed of the largest armed forces. Brazil was one of the few countries that sent combat units to fight alongside Allied troops during World War II.
Even its traditional rival, Argentina, has grown so close to Brazil that there was recently a positive mania for things Brazilian in Argentina. The two countries have initiated a number of cooperative ventures, including a sort-of common market and a joint nuclear power program, and Argentina even supports Brazils bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Relations with other Latin American countries are good, and Brazil appears to have a moderating influence on Venezuelas Hugo Chavez. This greatly enhances Brazil's stature in the region, for Argentia was long seen as a major rival for that position.
As part of its new found quasi-great power status in Latin America, Brazil has been strengthening its hold on its borderlands, increasing border posts to secure its very long frontiers, to prevent border incursions by foreign military, paramilitary, and guerrilla groups, while reducing smuggling and the drug trade. Brazil has also begun reaching beyond the limits of the Americas. Brazilian economic and military advisors have been active in Portuguese-speaking parts of Africa. The Brazilian Army recently provided training, in the Amazon, for Angolan troops, who have subsequently performed well in operations against separatists in the Cabinda Region back home.
Like all Latin American countries, Brazil is wary of the U.S., but appears to be willing to cooperate on regional security. The Brazilian armed forces number about 300,000 troops, who are, by Latin American standards, well trained and equipped. Brazil has taken advantage of all the high grade ships and warplanes that became surplus at the end of the Cold War. The Brazilian navy is the only one in South America with an aircraft carrier. Moreover, Brazil produces many of the weapons it uses, and even exports military equipment to other nations. Increasingly, though, the armed forces and police are serving on the borders, trying to control the drug trade and illegal migration.