Portuguese Armed Forces

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The armed forces of Portugal, commonly known as the Portuguese Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Portuguesas) encompasses a Navy (Marinha), an Army (Exército) and an Air Force (Força Aérea). The President of Portugal is the formal Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces but in practice they answer to the Portuguese Government via the National Defense Minister.

The Portuguese Armed Forces are charged with protecting Portugal's sovereignty and interests, and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. As the armed forces of one of NATO's founding nations, Portugal's military has been an active participant since 1955.

Recent operations have included patrolling the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia (since 2009), the war in Afghanistan (since 2005), intervention in East-Timor (1999–2004), in Guinea-Bissau (1990, 1998 and 1999), Angola (1992) and ongoing peacekeeping responsibilities in the Balkans and Lebanon. Bases are maintained throughout Portugal, both on the mainland and the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores.




The history of the Portuguese military starts with the independence of Portugal from the Kingdom of León. The leader of such revolt was the Count Afonso Henriques (later king Afonso I) which had inherited the second County of Portugal (Condado Portucalense) and gained control of it after defeating his mother, Countess Teresa. Portugal had an important role in the Reconquista defeating the Moors and giving the country the current geographic aspect, an achievement made by king Afonso III. However the borders were also defended against the political ambitions of the Kingdoms of León and Castile.

World War I

More than a year after the war in Europe broke out, the government of Portugal orders the arrest of German ships anchored in Portuguese ports following a British request, leading to a war declaration by Germany. An Army Corps with the name Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (Corpo Expedicionário Português, CEP) is formed at Tancos, made of 30,000 soldiers, under command of General Norton de Matos. It is decided to include the CEP into the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the first men arrive in France by February 1917. Also an artillery Portuguese Corps is sent to man French batteries, which they start operating by March 1918.

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