Personnel Exchange Program–Brazil

By Karla Gabel, Office Of Supply Corps Personnel
Naval Supply Systems Command

Lt. Brian Traganza is a Logistics Programs Support Officer in the Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) in Brazil, which he began in January, 2017.

Lt. Traganza presents the benefits of MWR in relation to the NEX in Brazil project to the Brazilian Navy. -photo courtesy of Isaac Vieira.

 

Traganza was commissioned an ensign in 2012 through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. He spent a year as a Nuclear Submarine Officer before transferring to the Supply Corps in 2013, and graduating from the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) Basic Qualification Course (BQC) in 2014. Before joining the Navy, Traganza graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. During his time at Duke, he spent a semester in Spain, studying the language, and a summer working on a business internship in Argentina. These global experiences ingrained in him a passion for South American culture and the importance of assimilation, especially learning the language.

Fluency in Portuguese is a must for the Brazilian PEP billet, as communicating on the job is done completely in Portuguese and very few Brazilians speak English. Traganza has a background in Spanish, with over 10 years of study, yet found Portuguese a challenging language to master. He spent six months at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Washington, DC, before reporting to Brazil. “The most rewarding thing for me has been representing the United States Navy by being hard working and technically proficient, and doing so in Portuguese,” stated Traganza.

When he first arrived in Brazil, Traganza met his Brazilian PEP counterpart–a Brazilian Navy supply corps lieutenant. Traganza explained, “We do not rotate at the same time, so I was actually able to help prep him for the job and time in the U.S. before he left Brazil. We didn’t literally trade places, but our jobs are supposed to be somewhat analogous.” He continued, “The job in San Diego is highly sought after by Brazilian naval officers and they have an extremely rigorous selection process. Their exchange officers come back with a completely different perspective on their Navy and the United States, just like I do with Brazil.”

Lt. Traganza (on right) with his Brazilian Navy boss, Capt. Villela, who he accompanied to the State Department’s official Fourth of July celebration at Museo da Amanhã. –photo courtesy of Márcia Moraes

 

In his Brazilian Chain of Command, Traganza’s title is Encarregado da Divisão de Planejamento e Avaliação, which translates as the “Head of the Planning and Evaluation Division.” He works in the Brazilian equivalent to our NAVSUP Headquarters, Diretoria de Abastecimento da Marinha (DAbM), located on Ilha das Cobras (Island of the Snakes) in downtown Rio de Janeiro. He reports to his Brazilian boss, Capt. Villela, and Vice Admiral Sergio Luiz, who is Chief of the Brazilian Navy Supply Corps.

Translation work is big part of Traganza’s work. He provides translation services for official Brazilian naval correspondence, translating from both English to Portuguese and Portuguese to English. “My proudest moment was when I conducted a presentation on Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) to an audience of over 200 Brazilian sailors in Portuguese, including a Q&A. That to me, was when all my PEP skills coalesced,” stated Traganza. He also acted as translator for the Brazilian Navy’s tour of the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during her port call to Rio de Janeiro in December, 2017. “Showing America’s incredible naval capabilities and translating it to the Brazilian audience was very fulfilling,” said Traganza.

Another part of his job is serving as the United States Navy (USN) project lead to implement a Brazilian version of the Navy Exchange (NEX). He is the primary liaison between the Brazilian Navy and Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) and serves as the action officer for the opening of the first NEX on base.

Traganza also assists the Brazilian Navy in tracking and updating their supply system. As part of this effort, he presents a quarterly supply indicators brief to Vice Admiral Luiz. The brief tracks the customer fulfillment rates and budget for all classes of Brazilian navy supply.

The Brazilian Navy uses software called Sistema de Informações Gerenciais de Abastecimento (da Marinha) (SINGRA), which is similar to our Navy’s Relational Supply (RSupply) system. Traganza uses this software to update a catalog of spare parts provided by foreign vendors. He has contacted almost 1,000 vendors in relation to over 6,000 parts tracked in SINGRA. This work is vital because the vendors do not speak Portuguese and they correspond in English.

Adjusting to life somewhere new is always challenging, especially in a developing country like Brazil. The transition was made easier for Traganza, as the country is filled with stunning natural beauty and friendly people. In his off time, he enjoys traveling and travel photography. One of his favorite escapes was traveling to Chile to ski in the summer. He also enjoys Krav Maga, salsa and forró dancing, and cycling. He plays beach volleyball with a team made up of players from the Department of State who work at the consulate, which is a great opportunity to interact with other agencies.

Lt. Traganza (second from right) serving as translator for the Brazilian Navy, during a tour of the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during a port call in Rio de Janeiro. –photo courtesy of Mariana Miranda

 

Traganza’s time in PEP has rewarded him with new friendships, including Brazilians and other U.S. personnel stationed there. Being fully immersed in the Brazilian culture and doing a very unique job has challenged him, made him more independent, and given him a more global perspective.

The PEP experience in Brazil is a big win for the Supply Corps, as it “keeps the U.S. engaged with a strategic partner and the largest Navy in the Americas next to the U.S. It allows for increased interoperability with our navies and leads to unique opportunities for engagement like the NEX in Brazil project. Brazilian business culture is very relationship based, and by having a fully embedded USN supply officer, the Brazilian Navy is more likely to reach out to the U.S. Navy on all fronts,” said Traganza.

Traganza said of his PEP experience, “I am truly honored and humbled to be the PEP liaison officer to Brazil. Never has there been a more important time in our nation’s history to foster good relations with other countries and strengthen our allies and strategic partners. I am grateful that the Navy has invested so much time and money into my training so that I might better represent the United States Navy and accomplish our mission abroad.”

Summer 2018