Area Handbook for Portugal

By Eugene K. Keefe; David P. Coffin et al. | Go to book overview

SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY

CHAPTER 15
THE ARMED FORCES

The Portuguese armed forces by mid- 1976 had undergone a drastic reduction in size from the very high levels attained during the counterinsurgency warfare in the African territories. In thirteen years of war -- 1961 to 1974 -- the army had tripled in size, and the navy and air force had more than doubled. In early 1974 strength was estimated at about 220,000, the army accounting for over 80 percent of the total. In June 1976, however, military strength was down to about 46,000, and the army had more than 50 percent of the total.

The inconclusive colonial wars had created strains in the military as well as in the society in general. Dissatisfaction among junior career officers fighting those wars led to the formation of a dissident group of army officers known as the Captains' Movement, which eventually spread to other services and became the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas -- MFA). The MFA was initially concerned with professional grievances but, as disaffection grew within the military and the government failed to provide a solution to the continuing wars, the MFA became more politicized and on April 25, 1974, staged a coup d'etat that ended the authoritarian regime that had controlled Portugal for almost fifty years. The coup engendered a revolution that dismantled the repressive system established by António de Oliveira Salazar and maintained by his successor, Marcello Caetano. Since April 1974 the armed forces have remained the dominant element in a political system that has been torn by internal strife and turmoil. Unusual among military groups that have taken control of political systems, the MFA in 1976 planned to relinquish authority to the legislature elected in April and to the president to be elected in June.

Portugal was one of the original members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO), and the revolutionary provisional governments have continued that membership. One of the two army divisions maintained in the homeland during the colonial wars was committed to NATO for the defense of southern Europe, and the other was committed to the defense of the Iberian Peninsula in conjunction

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Area Handbook for Portugal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Preface v
  • Country Profile vii
  • Portugal xi
  • List of Illustrations xii
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Chapter 1 - General Character of the Society 1
  • Chapter 2- Historical Setting 13
  • Chapter 3 - Physical Environment 59
  • Chapter 4 - Population and Living Conditions 81
  • Chapter 5 - Social System 115
  • Chapter 6 - Religious Life 139
  • Chapter 7 - Education and the Arts 167
  • Chapter 8 - Governmental System 193
  • Chapter 9 - Political Dynamics 221
  • Chapter 10 - Foreign Relations 257
  • Chapter 11 - Mass Communications 299
  • Chapter 12 - Character and Structure Of The Economy 311
  • Chapter 13 - Agriculture and Industry 333
  • Chapter 14 - Trade, Transportation, and Services 357
  • Chapter 15 - The Armed Forces 373
  • Chapter 16 - Public Order and Internal Security 397
  • Bibliography 411
  • Glossary 437
  • Index 441
  • Published Area Handbooks 455
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