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Portugal's navy needs 10 thousand soldiers

Atualizado: 17 de mai.

In an extensive interview with Radio TSF and Diário de Notícias, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who successfully led the vaccination campaign against Covid-19, said that an invasion of Europe is a possibility and that the allies, particularly NATO, must be prepared for it.

In this context, Admiral Gouveia e Melo, a potential Presidential candidate in 2026, addressed Portugal's recruitment needs, saying that, in order to have a balanced navy, Portugal currently needs around 10,000 troops.

"(...) we try to hire young people and tell them that if they finish their degree and become a naval officer they'll earn a reasonable salary, we'll give them accommodation and pay for their master's degree. We also promise them that they'll never fight, because we need them in the rear."

He added: "Europe, the United States and other countries, but more Europe, created a system of professionalised armed forces. In doing so, what has it done? It greatly reduced society's knowledge of what military activities are. So to say that there are currently 30,000 people in Portuguese society who are useful for defence, it's probably an exaggeration."

"This makes it difficult to mobilise in case of need. So what I'm saying is that we have to have a model that allows our young people to mobilise quickly if we have to defend ourselves".

He said: "I always ask mothers: would you rather have your child conscripted into defence with a week's training, or a child who over time has gained knowledge and experience so that if one day they have to defend the country, they can do so with the minimum of conditions and the minimum of knowledge?"

"We can't just stick our heads in the sand and say: that's not going to happen because we're here in this little corner. If the whole of Europe is conquered, then when they ("our enemies") get here, there's no point in defending ourselves because we won't be allies to anything anymore," said the military officer.

He clarified that when he says that the country must be able to defend its territory, he is also referring to the "European area".

"You can be absolutely sure that if Europe is attacked and NATO demands it of us, we will die wherever we have to in order to defend Europe, which is our common home," he guarantees.

In the same interview, he also revealed that the number of missions escorting Russian ships as they pass through Portuguese waters has quadrupled in the last three years.

"Three years ago the number of escorts we carried out was less than a dozen a year. Last year alone we did 46 and this year we've already done 14. These ships from the Russian Federation, which can be military or merchant but with known military activity, can transit our waters to go from position A to position B or they can have interests in our waters. And both things happen simultaneously," he reveals.

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