The Brazilian Armed Forces is the largest in Latin America, with about 330,000 active duty troops, and 1,340,000 in reserve.
They descended from the Portuguese Army troops that defended Brazil during their rule. They curbstomped the Dutch in Brazil in 1648 and was considered to be the founding date of the Brazilian Army. However, in the early 19th century, the Brazilians, fed up with Portugal, rebelled and the Portuguese Brazilian units joined with them at their War for Independence. It wasn't as bloody as those of Mexico's but still bloody nonetheless. Brazil later fought with Argentina at the Platine War of 1851-2 over Uruguay and Paraguay. When the latter country's dictator went Ax-Crazy and attacked Brazil in the Paraguayan War in the 1860s, they, with the Argentines and Uruguayans bled the Paraguayans dry and almost killed the entire adult male Paraguayan population.
It also had to deal with some monarchist remnants with the War of the Canudos (1893-1897). They crushed the monarchists with a heavy price; the monarchists defeated three military expeditions sent against them by the republicans. Most of the rebels probably didn't even know who was the president, and generally just wanted to find a calm place in the middle of the Brazillian Northeast and pray in peace.
Surprisingly for a nation not known as a naval power, Brazil was the third nation after Britain and Germany to field dreadnought battleships. Even at the time this was viewed with astonishment by the major powers, all of whom assumed Brazil must have been buying the ships from British shipyards on behalf of a third party, so that Britain's latest naval technology could be stolen by a rival. Nobody could understand why a nation with neither a strong naval tradition nor powerful naval rivals could ever need such expensive warships. But need them or not, Brazil wanted dreadnoughts as a symbol of national prestige, and thus Argentina and Chile had to have their own, triggering one of the more obscure arms races of the 20th century.
Brazil entered both World Wars at the side of the Allies. World War I had a discreet participation, where aside from a small military medical mission and some officers in the French military, the largest contingent arrived in Europe just days before the November 1918 armistice. World War II, on the other hand, had 23,000 Brazilian troops distinguish themselves in Italynote , not to mention the Brazilian air units that fought alongside the Americans. And, considering what came next, this was the last time the Brazilian military ever had anything to be proud of. And given a common dissing term for the troops' involvement was that "It's more likely for a snake to smoke a pipe, than for the BEF go to the front and fight", the Army's insignia featured a snake with a pipe. Brazil's participation on the Allied side in World War II was somewhat ironic, given that Brazil's President at the time, Getúlio Vargas, was himself a quasi-fascist dictator. This fact didn't go unnoticed by the BEF or the Brazilian people, and was a major factor in the return of democracy to Brazil...for a couple of decades.
Brazil was, like other Latin American nations, coup-prone. Then the Cold War ended. The end of the monarchy by Pedro II was engineered by an army coup with elements of the landowners who feel bad about their slaves being emancipated by the Emperor. The latest bout was in 1964 when the army accused then-President Goulart of being a closet Dirty Communist. This theory is far-fetched beyond belief, and seen by the vast majority of Brazilians as an excuse to establish a military dictatorship that lasted to 1985. Thus, in the past 50 years, the only army that ever attacked Brazil was its own. After that, the military retired from politics after a referendum to restore democracy. Sane people hope they stay retired.
Brazil also had a weapons industry, which nearly collapsed in the 1980s. Its most successful company is Taurus, a small arms manufacturer that even has a plant in Miami.
Brazil conscripts men from the age of 18. Service is voluntary for women, and yes, many of the women in the Brazilian military are Action Girls. There are - thankfully for those that don't want to join the Military - relatively few openings in the army, however, so the "conscription" tends to boil down to a guy in a uniform asking if you want in or not and releasing you due to "excess contingent" if you don't.
- In the 1999 movie The Frenchman's son they save the day at the end.
- In Red Dawn +20, the Brazillians are one of many nations to send soldiers to America when it's invaded by the Dirty Communist armies. They also send their aircraft carrier, Minas Gerais for the liberation of Houston.
- Swedish Heavy metal band Sabaton has a song called "Smoking Snakes", chronicling the Brazilian Expeditionary Force's (nicknamed "Smoking Snakes" for their logo being a snake with a pipe) deeds in World War Two. Specifically it's about Arlindo Lúcio da Silva, Geraldo Baeta da Cruz and Geraldo Rodrigues de Souza 3 Brazilian Expeditionary Force soldiers who became separated from their unit and fought a large contingent of Germans in Italy on 14 April 1945. Refusing surrender, they fought to their deaths and were buried by the Germans, who placed a cross over their graves with the inscription "Drei brasilianische Helden" (Three Brazilian Heroes).
- The Brazilian WWII Drama Road47 talks about the Brazilian participation in the Italian campaign.
- Operators from COTER (Terrestrial Operations Command) assist the protagonists of SEAL Team in episode 7 "Borderlines" when searching for a missing CIA agent near the Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina tri-border region.
- The Brazilian Armed Forces are heavily featured in Vampiros do Rio Douro with one of their field commanders being a point-of-view character. They are fighting a Hopeless War against Portuguese vampires that are awakened from their sleep and proceed to wreck havoc in Southern Brazil.
- Batalha dos Guararapes depicts the aforementioned war against the Dutch invaders.