Portuguese Army

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Portuguese Army
Exército Português
Portuguese Army Coat of Arms
Active 25 July 1139 – present
(882 years, 11 months)
Country Portugal
Type Army
Role Land Force
Size 44,992 [1]
Part of Portuguese Armed Forces
Patron Afonso I of Portugal (civil)
Saint George (religious)
Motto Em perigos e guerras esforçados
In dangers and wars strengthened
Engagements Reconquista
1383–1385 Crisis
War of the Castilian Succession
Persia–Portugal war
Ethiopian-Adal War
Dutch–Portuguese War
Turkish-Portuguese Wars
War of the Portuguese Succession
Malayan-Portuguese War
Portuguese Restoration War
War of the Spanish Succession
Seven Years' War
French Revolutionary Wars
War of the Oranges
Peninsular War
Luso-Brazilian invasion
Brazilian War of Independence
Liberal Wars
First Carlist War
World War I
Portuguese-Indian War (1961)
Portuguese Colonial War
Afghanistan War
Peacekeaping Missions
-Western Sahara
-East Timor
Army Chief of Staff General Artur Neves Pina Monteiro [2]
Afonso I of Portugal
Nuno Álvares Pereira
John I of Portugal
Afonso de Albuquerque

The Portuguese Army (Portuguese: Exército Português) is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal. It is one of the oldest armies in the world, established in the 12th century.


The history of the Portuguese Army is directly connected to the history of Portugal.

National defence

The land forces fought for Portuguese independence against the Leonese and the Moors in the 12th century, against the Castilian invaders in the 14th century, against the Spanish Habsburgs in the 17th century, and against French invaders in the Peninsular War in the 19th century. They were re-trained by the British under the direction of Lieutenant General William Carr Beresford after the 1809 Battle of Corunna. The first major battle of the Anglo Portuguese army was the Battle of Bussaco in 1810, the success of which gave the inexperienced troops confidence in their abilities. The infantry and artillery went on to perform very well up until the final Battle of Toulouse (1814) when news arrived of Napoleon's abdication.

Foreign campaigns

Since the 15th century, the land forces have also participated in Portuguese foreign and overseas campaigns – in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Oceania, and Europe. In the 20th century, the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps participated in World War I on the side of the Allies in the European western front and Africa.

Colonial War

The army participated in colonial war from 1961 to 1974, in Angola, Goa, Mozambique, Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. At the other oversees possessions, East Timor and São Tomé and Príncipe, there was a military presence but no guerrilla organizations. In 1961, the isolated and relatively small Portuguese Army suffered a defeat against a largely superior Indian Army in the colony of Portuguese India, which was subsequently lost to the Union of India in the same invasion. The counterinsurgency campaigns in Africa had various degrees of success ranging from almost victory in Angola to total and conventional war in Portuguese Guinea. This war ended after the Carnation Revolution military coup of April 1974 in Lisbon and subsequently independence of the colonies.

European/NATO focus

After the independence of the colonies and the normalization of Portuguese political affairs the Portuguese army returned to the barracks and began the process of changing from an oversized colonial and counter-insurgency army to a conventional European army, including drastic personnel reduction, disbanding of some units, acquisition of new arms and equipment, reorganizing units and roles, fielding new headquarters and becoming fully professional. These took several decades and the defined purposes and roles have somehow changed due to external causes like the end of the Cold War as well internal causes like available budget, political changes and the acceptance and desires of the Portuguese people regarding its armed forces.

Peace missions

In the 21st century, the Portuguese Army has participated in several peace missions, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East-Timor, and Afghanistan – where it has a Comandos company deployed. In December 2005, a Portuguese commando died in an incident in Afghanistan when a bomb trap was detonated.

Order of battle

Operational Structure of the Portuguese Army.

Central structure

The Portuguese Army is led by the Army Chief of Staff and includes:

  1. Army Staff (EME);
  2. Functional Commands:
    • Training and Doctrine Command (CmdID)
    • Logistic Command (CmdLog)
    • Personnel Command (CmdPess)
    • Land Forces Command (CFT)
  3. Operational Formations and Military Zones:
  4. Main Military Schools:

Base units

Location of the main Army base units in Continental Portugal. Off-map to west are RG1 and RG2 (Azores) and RG3 (Madeira). Colors represent:
Black pog.svg - Units of the Mechanized Brigade (BriMec)
Green pog.svg - Units of the Rapid Reaction Brigade (BriRR)
White pog.svg - Units of the Intervention Brigade (BrigInt)
Red pog.svg - General support units

The Portuguese Army Base Structure units serve as administrative bases responsible for the cantonment and support of the operational units of the army's formations, military zones and general support forces. For historical reasons, most of the base units are called regiments and are associated with an arm of service. By arm of service, these units are:

  1. Cavalry:
  2. Artillery:
  3. Infantry:
  4. Engineers:
    • 1st Engineers Regiment (RE1) at Lisbon
    • 3rd Engineers Regiment (RE3) at Espinho
  5. Communications:
    • Communications Regiment (RT) at Porto
  6. Material Service:
  7. Transportation Service
    • Transportation Regiment (RTransp) at Lisbon
  8. Mixed:


General officers
Marechal do Exército
Marshal of the Army
Brigadier General
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6
23 - Marechal.svg 22 - General.svg 21 - Tenente-general.svg 20 - Major-general.svg 19 - Brigadeiro-general.svg
Field officers
OF-5 OF-4 OF-3
18 - Coronel.svg 17 - Tenente-coronel.svg 16 - Major.svg
Company officers
Aspirante a official
Officer candidate
OF-2 OF-1 OF-1 OF-D
15 - Capitão.svg 14 - Tenente.svg 13 - Alferes.svg 12 - Aspirante.svg
Non-commissioned officers
Chief Master Sergeant
Master sergeant
First sergeant
Second sergeant
Second quartermaster
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-5 OR-5
11 - Sargento-mor.svg 10 - Sargento-chefe.svg 9 - Sargento-ajudante.svg 8 - Primeiro-sargento.svg 7 - Segundo-sargento.svg 6 - Furriel.svg 5 - Segundo-furriel.svg
Attached corporal
First corporal
Second corporal
OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
4 - Cabo-adjunto.svg 3 - Primeiro-cabo.svg 2 - Segundo-cabo.svg No insignia


Infantry Equipment

Weapon Caliber Origin Notes
Pistols and Submachine Guns
Walther P38 9×19mm  Germany Service pistol
SIG P228 9×19mm  Germany
Heckler & Koch USP9 9×19mm  Germany
Brügger & Thomet MP9 9×19mm   Switzerland
Heckler & Koch MP5K 9×19mm  Germany Also the A5 and the SD6 (since 2003) version is in use
IMI Uzi 9×19mm  Israel Being phased out
Assault Rifles & Battle Rifles
Heckler & Koch G3 7.62×51mm  Germany Standard issue Battle Rifle, made under license by Fábrica de Braço de Prata as the FMP m/961 (G3) and FMP m/963 (G3A3)
Heckler & Koch HK417 7.62×51mm  Germany Used as marksman rifle
Heckler & Koch G36 5.56×45mm  Germany Used by the CTOE
IMI Galil 5.56×45mm  Israel ARM variant, Paratroopers standard rifle
SIG SG 543 5.56×45mm   Switzerland
Sniper Rifles & Anti-materiel Rifles
Heckler & Koch MSG-90 7.62×51mm  Germany Sniper rifle
AI AWSF 7.62×51mm  United Kingdom
AI AWSM .338 Lapua Magnum  United Kingdom
AI AW50 .50 BMG  United Kingdom
Barrett M95 .50 BMG  United States
Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG  United States
Machine Guns
Rheinmetall MG 3 7.62×51mm  Germany
Heckler & Koch HK21 7.62×51mm  Germany Made under license by Fábrica de Braço de Prata as the m/968. General-purpose machine gun
FN Minimi 5.56×45mm  Belgium General-purpose machine gun
Heckler & Koch MG4 5.56×45mm  Germany General-purpose machine gun
FN M3M .50 BMG  Belgium
Browning M2HB .50 BMG  United States
Mossberg 500 12, 20 gauge  United States
Benelli M3 12, 20 gauge  Italy
Franchi SPAS 15 12 gauge  Italy
Grenade Launchers
Heckler & Koch HK79 40 mm grenade  Germany
M203 40 mm grenade  United States
Heckler & Koch AG36 40 mm grenade  Germany
ARWEN 37 37 mm grenade  United Kingdom
Milkor MGL 40 mm grenade  South Africa Mk.1 version
Tampella B 120 mm  Finland Called m/74
mGrW 82 81 mm  United Kingdom /  Canada
Soltam 60mm 60 mm  Israel
Cardom 120mm  Israel
FBP m/68 60 mm  Portugal Ultra-light mortar (morteirete)
Anti-Tank Weapons
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle 84 mm  Sweden
M72 LAW 66 mm  United States Called m/78
BGM-71 TOW 152 mm  United States 45 Launchers with 216 Missiles
Spike  Israel 20 Spike LR & MR Launchers
MILAN 115 mm  France 755 Missiles 55 Milan+ 700 Milan-2-T


Name Origin Type Number Photo Notes
Armoured vehicles
Leopard 2A6  Germany Main battle tank 37[2] Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE (22278445438).jpg 28 are in 2 combat squadrons, 3 in the Command and Services Squadron
M60 A3 TTS  United States Main battle tank 96 CARRO COMBATE M 60 A3.jpg 14 are in 1 combat squadron. The others are in reserve
M901A1 ITV  United States Armoured vehicle ATGMs-launcher 4 M901-TOW-latrun-2.jpg
M113 Armored Personnel Carrier  United States Armoured personnel carrier 277 Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE (22010429314).jpg Called m/76. Includes 251 M113A3 and 26 M557[3]
Pandur II  Austria Armoured personnel carrier 166 + 22 Pandur 8x8 Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carrier, Trident Juncture 15 (21891748564).jpg Several versions made under license in Portugal by Fabrequipa. Called m/07. 166 received from the original order of 240. The others were cancelled. 22 more will now be delivered.
Chaimite  Portugal Armoured personnel carrier 80 020602-F-EF201-005 A Portuguese Chaimite V200 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) outfitted with a 50 caliber machine gun engages a large rectangular target some two kilometers down range.jpg Called m/67. Retired from service
Commando V150  United States Armoured car 15 Cadillac Gage V-150 do Exército português.jpg Called m/89.
Panhard M11  France Armoured car 38[3] VBL RHP Afghanistan.JPG Called m/89 Light.
HMMWV M1025  United States Armoured car 37 Portuguese Air Force Hummer and Condor.jpg Called m/00 .
Engineering vehicles
M88 Recovery Vehicle[3]  United States Armoured recovery vehicle 6 Bundeswehrmuseum Dresden 65.jpg
M48 AVLB[3]  United States Armoured vehicle-launched bridge Bundeswehrmuseum Dresden 70.jpg

Tactical Vehicles

Heavy Vehicles


  • United Kingdom 105mm L118 Light Gun (21)
  • United Kingdom 105mm M119 Light Gun m/98
  • Italy 105mm OTO Melara Mod 56 (discontinued, some may be used by the School of Artillery for no-live fire training, replaced by M119 Light Gun)
  • United States 105mm M101 (discontinued, some may be used by the School of Artillery for no-live fire training)
  • United States 155mm M114 (reactivated, may also be used by the School of Artillery for no-live fire training)
  • United States 155mm M109A5 (18) and M109A4

Anti-Air Artillery


See also


  1. http://www.emgfa.pt/pt/organizacao
  2. Army - armedforces.co.uk, July 29, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 [1] - Armyrecognition.com, July 29, 2013
  4. "Curso de Operador de Radares de AAA". Portuguese Army. Retrieved April 17, 2014. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "1st Air Defense Regiment, Portuguese Army Testimonial". Griffin Aerospace. Retrieved April 17, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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