Portuguese Armed Forces: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Portuguese Armed Forces
Forças Armadas Portuguesas
Military flag of Portugal.svg
Flag of the Portuguese Armed Forces
Service branches Army
Air Force
Headquarters Estado-Maior-General das Forças Armadas
President of the Portuguese Republic Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Minister of National Defense Nuno Severiano Teixeira
Chief of staff Luís Vasco Valença Pinto
Military age 18
Conscription Volunteer
Available for
military service
2,435,042 males, age 18-49 (2005 est.),
2,405,816 females, age 18-49 (2005 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,952,819 males, age 18-49 (2005 est.),
1,977,264 females, age 18-49 (2005 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
67,189 males (2005 est.),
60,626 females (2005 est.)
Active personnel 44,900 (ranked 74th)
Reserve personnel 210,930
Percent of GDP 2.3%
Domestic suppliers OGMA, INDEP
Foreign suppliers  United States
 United Kingdom
Related articles
History Military history of Portugal
Ranks Portuguese Armed Forces ranks and insignia

The armed forces of Portugal, commonly known as the Portuguese Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Portuguesas) encompasses a Navy (Marinha), an Army (Exército) and an Air Force (Força Aérea). The President of Portugal is the formal Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces but in practice they answer to the Portuguese Government via the National Defense Minister.

The Portuguese Armed Forces are charged with protecting Portugal and its overseas territories and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They have a somewhat minor role in NATO assignments.

Recent operations have included wars in Afghanistan (2005), intervention in East-Timor (1999) and in Guinea-Bissau (1998) and ongoing peacekeeping responsibilities in the Balkans and Lebanon. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained at the island of Madeira and the archipelago of Azores.





The siege of Muslim Lisbon by D.Afonso Henriques.

The history of the Portuguese military starts with the independence of Portugal from the Kingdom of León. The leader of such revolt was the Count Afonso Henriques (later king Afonso I) which had inherited the second County of Portugal (Condado Portucalense) and gained control of it after defeating his mother, Countess Teresa. Portugal had an important role in the Reconquista defeating the Moors and giving the country the current geographic aspect, an achievement made by king Afonso III. However the borders were also defended against the political ambitions of the Kingdoms of León and Castile.

The land and naval military forces helped Portugal create the earliest and longest lived European colonial Empire. Later this lead (directly or indirectly) to several conflicts such as the Portuguese Restoration War, Napoleonic Wars and the Liberal Wars.

World War I

Portuguese soldiers entrenched during World War I, in Belgium, 1918.

More than a year after the war in Europe broke out, the government of Portugal orders the arrest of German ships anchored in Portuguese ports following a British request, leading to a war declaration by Germany. An Army Corps with the name Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (Corpo Expedicionário Português, CEP) is formed at Tancos, made of 30,000 soldiers, under command of General Norton de Matos. It is decided to include the CEP into the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the first men arrive in France by February 1917. Also an artillery Portuguese Corps is sent to man French batteries, which they start operating by March 1918.

The CEP would see major action at Battle of La Lys, as it became known in Portugal or Operation Georgette/Battle of Estaires to the British. The Portuguese 2nd Division fought bravely against Germany's superior numbers and though the unit was almost completely lost the Portuguese fought on as heroes. The war would end in the same year with the Allied victory. Portuguese troops also fought in Africa, due to the colonies of Angola and Mozambique bordering German territories.

Portuguese-Indian War

Units from the Portuguese Army and Navy were involved in an armed conflict with India, during the Invasion of Goa against an invasion of the Portuguese colonies in India. The Portuguese deployment in Goa consisted of about 3300 Portuguese troops and around 900 Indian soldiers. Four Portuguese Navy frigates — the NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, the NRP Bartolomeu Dias, the NRP João de Lisboa and the NRP Gonçalves Zarco — were deployed to patrol the waters off Portuguese colonies. These were each armed with four 120 mm guns capable of two shots per minute, and four automatic rapid firing guns.[1] In addition, there were five merchant navy ships in Goa, as well as several naval patrol boats (Lancha de Fiscalização).

After 5 days of low-intensity conflict, the Portuguese Governor, General Manuel António Vassalo e Silva surrendered to the Indian Army. 31 Portuguese soldiers were killed in action. 3306 Portuguese army troops and naval crew were taken prisoners of war, and later released.

Only the NRP Afonso de Albuquerque saw action against the Indian Navy, the other ships having fled before commencement of hostilities. The Afonso was destroyed by Indian naval frigates.

Colonial War

Air Force helicopter operating in an African theatre during the war.

The Portuguese Colonial War (Guerra Colonial), also known as Overseas War (Ultramar) in Portugal or in the former colonies as War of liberation (Guerra de Libertação), was fought between Portugal's military and the emerging nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies between 1961 and 1974. It was a decisive ideological struggle and armed conflict of the cold war in African (Portuguese Africa and surrounding nations) and European (mainland Portugal) scenarios. Unlike other European nations, the Portuguese regime did not leave its African colonies or the overseas provinces (províncias ultramarinas), during the 1950s and 1960s. It was during this period that various armed independence movements, most prominently led by communist parties who cooperated under the CONCP umbrella and pro US groups, became active in these areas, most notably in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea. The war would end when Portuguese junior military officers overthrew the regime in a bloodless coup. This later led to the independence of all Portuguese colonies.

Recent History

Army Chaimite armoured vehicles in Bosnia.
Portuguese soldiers in an evacuation in Bosnia.

After the conturbed transition period between 1974 and 1975, Portugal became a democratic state. Reforms on the military structure would then start to ensure it would meet the requirements for a possible Cold War conflict.

Between 1975 and 2007 several major changes were made. A Defense Ministry was created which would be in charge of the three military branches although officially the President of Portugal would be the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Many units were disbanded with the end of the colonial war (mainly Infantry) since high manpower was no longer needed and the counter-guerrilla doctrine would change to a more conventional one. The conscription for the Army and for the Navy ended in 2004 while the Air Force was professionalized a while before.

Paratroopers (Tropas Páraquedistas) would be transferred from the Air Force to the Army in 1994 and the Commandos (Comandos) would be disbanded only to be recreated in 2002. However four years later these two special units would be joined under the same Brigade along with the Special Operations Forces (Operações Especiais).

Military Police would be renamed as Army Police (Policia do Exercito) and the other two branches would receive equivalent units, the Air Police(Policia Aérea) and the Naval Police (Policia Naval), in the Air Force and Navy respectively. In 1992 a Naval Aviation (Aviação Naval) unit was created to give the Fleet more efficiency in coastal surveillance and maritime patrols.

Current strength

Portuguese soldiers during a NATO exercise

Country financial problems and persistent lack of will of the Portuguese governments and Defense Ministers has led to rather poorly equipped and understrength Armed Forces. Its professionalization lead to a reduction in overall 30,000 men on all three branches but still the Portuguese military holds the 74th position in the international comparison in terms of manpower.

Currently the Portuguese military forces have 44,900 men with the majority of the manpower allocated to the Army although its Chief of Staff, General José Ramalho, has already stated that more men are needed.

Due to Portugal's low ranging capabilities, recent defence policy has a stated assumption that any considerable operation would be undertaken only under NATO or ONU mandate. East-Timor, Kosovo and Afghanistan may all be taken as precedent – indeed the last large scale military action in which the Portuguese Armed Forces fought alone was the overseas conflict (Ultramar).

Despite the lack of brand new equipment (not counting second hand gear) since 1974 until the 21st century (except for the Air Force which received two packages of F-16A Fighting Falcons from the US National Guard that are currently being modernized under the Mid Life Update program) all international missions assigned to the military have been fulfilled without limitations. A Military Programation Law (Lei de Programação Militar) was launched in 2002 to start modernization of the Armed Forces but considerable reequipment of the military only started by 2003, with Defense Minister Paulo Portas, who managed to acquire new helicopters (Army and Air Force), submarines, IFV (Army and Navy), frigates and naval patrol boats. Ironically one of the most important issues, the replacement of the light firearms, failed during his mandate. The present government also started reequipment with the purchase of new battle tanks in early 2008, the Leopard 2A6.


  1. ^ www.marinha.pt/extra/revista/ra_dez2001/pag20.html

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address