Helena Carreiras/ Lusa

Portugal to adopt new strategic defence strategy by year end

Compulsory military service will not be returning, assures minister

Portugal’s minister of defence has been outlining a new Strategic Defence Concept, which she says will be ready by the end of this year.

Talking to a parliamentary hearing on the 2022 State Budget (to be voted on in its finality on May 27), she said the Military Programming Law has “a primordial role in leveraging the defence industry”.

This year €355 million will be spent on re-equipment and modernisation of the armed forces, while focus is on revising the Military Programming Law “to ensure a war reserves position compatible with the new geopolitical scenario”.

The directive signed to this effect has three priorities: “focus on people, capacity building and active participation of Portugal as a producer of international security”.

But there is no thought of returning to the days when all young men were forced to do a period of military service.

The minister explained that the idea “does not respond to strategic necessities” of the Armed Forces which need “qualified soldiers with technical skills”.

That said, “we can and should” discuss other ways of involving young people. “I have lots of ideas – we have lots of ideas – on how to increase articulation with society, namely through schools, in terms of education on security, defence and peace, and through other projects that expand the reach of National Defence Day”, she told MPs.

National Defence Day (in which young people are summoned to ‘exercise what is both a duty and a right of full citizenship’) will continue, in other words

Ms Carreiras added that this year’s budget for DECIR – Special Force for Fighting Rural Fires – will see 60 aircraft made available. “Portugal has never had so many available at the most critical times of fires”. This month 37 planes and helicopters are on standby, while the programme to build the State’s own aerial capacity for fighting rural fires will involve an investment of €26.9 million”. 

This year’s budget for leasing aerial rural firefighting resources has also been boosted by €18.7 million this year, reaching a total of €67.7 million, said the minister.

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