Portuguese women may have to do National Service

WOMEN MAY have to do National Service as part of a proposal to combat a lack of manpower in the Portuguese forces.

In a presentation to the government last Tuesday (October 3), the Director-General of Military Personnel and Recruitment from the Ministry of Defence, Alberto Coelho, said the only other alternative was to scrap National Service altogether and rely on volunteers.

At present, National Service is mandatory for all male citizens not in full-time education when they turn 18 years of age.

Some politicians at the conference believed that if this mandatory service period were abolished, this would leave a deficit in the armed forces.

Alberto Coelho discussed his plan to combat a lack of manpower, whereby a national database would be introduced to store the details of voluntary recruits.

Cross-referencing other national databases, such as education and employment, would enable the armed forces to know who could be approached to volunteer.

Citizens would then be drafted whenever there was a deficit, but volunteers would be obliged to notify the Ministry of Defence of any changes in address up until the age of 35, when they would no longer be drafted.

Part of his plan included a new national awareness campaign encouraging young people to sign up for the voluntary service.

Mr Coelho also discussed the Ministry of Defence’s intention to create an orientation system for recruits, to help work for them after they have completed either their voluntary service of one year or the more permanent contract of two and six years in the armed forces.

There is no indication that the proposal will be approved by the government, but a vote will most likely be cast and, if approved, the government will then decide whether to include women as part of the National Service or abolish it completely and rely on volunteers to be drafted.