Counterinsurgency in Africa: The Portuguese Way of War, 1961-1974

Synopsis

The first comprehensive account in English of how the Portuguese Armed Forces prepared for and conducted a distant counterinsurgency campaign in its African possessions with very limited resources, choosing to stay and fight despite the small odds for success. The Portuguese military crafted its doctrine and implemented it to match the guerrilla strategy of protracted war, and in doing so, followed the lessons gleaned from the British and French experiences in small wars. The Portuguese approach to the conflict was distinct in that it sought to combine the two-pronged national strategy of containing the cost of the war and of spreading the burden to the colonies with the solution on the battlefield. It describes how Portugal defined and analyzed its insurgency problem in light of the available knowledge on counterinsurgency, how it developed its military policies and doctrines in this context, and how it applied them in the African colonial environment. The uniqueness of its approach is highlighted through a thematic military analysis of the Portuguese effort and a comparison with the experiences of other governments fighting similar contemporaneous wars.