By Dialogo March 03, 2009 In his first visit to Brazil, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with top leaders here and emphasized the importance of military-to-military cooperation as part of the overall U.S.-Brazilian relationship. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and the leaders of the Brazilian armed forces. Brazilian officials said having the meetings here, in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, would give Mullen a good idea of the country’s military capabilities and the challenges of defending areas such as the Amazon Basin. Military-to-military contacts between the two nations are important to the overall relationship between Brazil and the United States, Mullen said at an impromptu news conference before meetings at the Amazon Military Command headquarters. He said he was impressed by the discipline and professionalism the Brazilian servicemembers displayed, and that he enjoyed meeting the leaders and servicemembers in the field. “You learn a great deal more being in the field than being in the capital,” the chairman said. “I can really see what the command does every single day, and how important the command is to the country of Brazil.” Brazil is at the heart of a region that is vital not just to South America, but to the United States and countries around the world, the admiral said. “We are greatly dependent and have a great deal of respect for the leadership of Brazil,” he added. Jobim echoed Mullen’s emphasis on the importance of the U.S.-Brazil relationship, and noted that trust is essential to that relationship. The Brazilian defense minister turned to Mullen and said, “We trust Admiral Mullen.” Brazil is the fifth-largest nation in the world by population. The global economic crisis seems to have affected the country less than other nations, with an economy that experienced 5.8 percent growth in 2008. U.S. and Brazilian forces have worked together in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti and elsewhere. U.S. and Brazilian servicemembers conduct military exercises together, and military-to-military cooperation also includes an extensive exchange program. U.S. Army noncommissioned officers attend the Brazilian Jungle School, and Brazilian cadets attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.