The secret NATO document issued by the NATO Defence Plans Committee for 1999-2005, classified Portugal’s implementation of objectives as “poor”, with only 20% of the objectives regarding spending and implementation of new equipment having been achieved. General Saceur, the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, stated that: “The Portuguese defence budget continues to provide insufficient financial means to provide the capitalisation and modernisation of equipment. This situation makes key projects impossible, such as the implementation of measures related to agreements undertaken in the area of Defence Capacity Initiatives”. General Saceur went on to specify the areas in which he considered the Portuguese Armed Forces below the required level : state of the equipment, telecommunications, control and communication, force commitment capacity, logistics and maintenance of supply, survival and means of protection, which basically includes practically all areas involved in any military operation. He specifies that Portugal does not have the equipment or means to detect or identify chemical or biological weapons nor does it have the means to destroy mines or minefields with remote control equipment. He added that the Portuguese Air Force does not have the autonomy to act outside the frontiers of Portugal. Such declarations reveal much about the psyche of NATO today. Firstly, there seems to be a general acceptance that it is normal for NATO forces to act outside their own frontiers, as the next victim is secretly armed, manipulated and systematically destroyed in a war-games-gone-mad scenario. Secondly, Portugal does not behave in such a way as to make it necessary to have to assume the same levels of protection which some other countries’ more intrusive foreign policies tend to provoke. What NATO has to see is that Portugal can only act in accordance with the real structures of the country and not gallop after Quixotean ideals dreamed up in comfortable offices in Brussels and Washington. Portugal’s armed forces are already stretched out in missions for NATO, the EU, the UNO, OECD and cover crisis management and peacekeeping missions in Africa, Europe and East Timor. To complain that Portuguese military spending is “poor” is an insult and an affront to the hundreds of thousands of people in Portugal who still live in abject misery.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON
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