Minimum height for entry into Portugal’s Armed Forces revised downwards

Large number of chronic illnesses also “no longer grounds for exclusion”

The minimum height for general entry into Portugal’s Armed Forces has been lowered to 1.54 metres for men and women, while several chronic illnesses are no longer a cause for automatic exclusion of candidates, the Ministry of National Defence has announced today.

In a statement, the ministry said that it has completed the process of reviewing the physical and sensory criteria for military service, now defined in new general tables of aptitude and capacity (previously termed ‘general tables of inaptitude and incapacity’).

One of the main changes s the fact that the minimum height for general access to any of the Armed Forces will now be 1.54 metres – the same for men and women; the maximum height has also been eliminated.

Previously, there were four minimum heights for general access: 1.64 metres for men and 1.60 for women, “when destined for courses at the military academies and the Naval School,” while for other cases the minimum height was 1.60 metres for men and 1.56 for women.

Now, according to the ministry, the height is standardised for general access, and then may vary according to specific functions, which will require different criteria – which in addition to height, may include other characteristics.

“In addition to updating the requirements, there is also a paradigm shift,” the statement explains. “We are moving to a model that sets general conditions common to military service in the Armed Forces, regardless of the branch and class, weapon, service or speciality. In this way, only certain specific functions will have different criteria, defined complementarily by the branches of the Armed Forces, a process that is currently underway.”

In addition to this change, according to the ministry, “a large number of chronic illnesses are no longer grounds for automatic exclusion” of candidates, such as “non-insulin treated type 2 diabetes, thyroid dysfunctions and other endocrinological conditions,” which will now be analysed individually by a medical board, as is the case for HIV infection.

Also included is the obligation to comply with the National Vaccination Plan, criteria relating to “visual acuity and colour perception” and “a new chapter on Stomatology (a medical speciality that treats diseases of the dental system), which did not exist in previous tables,” the statement said.

According to the defence ministry, this update will make it possible to broaden the universe of candidates for the Armed Forces and “promotes a necessary adaptation of these requirements to the current reality”, since it is “agreed that today’s young people constitute a different universe from the one that was assessed by the now revoked standards, last revisited in 2001.”

In its statement, the ministry stresses that the revision has taken into account the evolution of the tasks performed by the military and the advancement of scientific knowledge, as well as World Health Organisation standards.

“The structure of the tables has been simplified to make them easier to interpret and apply,” it reads. “And the measures now implemented take into account the provisions of the Action Plan for the Professionalisation of Military Service and the National Defence Sector Plan for Equality (2022-2025).”

Critics however have stressed that the reason behind the lack of intake in the Armed Forces has little to do with recruits being too short, too tall or with chronic diseases – and much more to do with the pay offered and conditions.

Source material: LUSA