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Wednesday 14 December 2011
Senior Course 119 Field Study III - Portugal
Throughout the centuries, Portugal has been Europe’s outpost towards the Atlantic and the New World. In an international setting, it can thus readily be seen as a link between the European and Atlantic components of the Alliance. And, despite its small population, Portugal continues to be one of the main contributors to NATO operations.
Luis Vaez de CAMOES, considered to be one of the country’s most important poets, said that, “There will never be a new year if we continue to copy the mistakes of the old years”. With the establishment of a NATO Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre in Monsanto, Lisbon, it is heartening to see the steps that the country is taking to move forward.
The NDC’s Senior Course 119 visited Lisbon on 12th and 13th December, and on the second day had a rare opportunity to attend briefings by high-level representatives from the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Defence.
The briefing day at the National Defence Institute began with an office call between the NDC Commandant, Lieutenant General Arne Bard DALHAUG, and Major General Vitor RODRIGUES VIANA, Director of the Institute, who welcomed Course Members warmly in his initial address to the group. The first plenary session was opened by Dr Isabel BRILHANTE PEDROSA, Deputy Director General for External Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who presented a most impressive report on Portuguese Foreign Policy. She underlined the wide range of Portuguese commitments in the international arena, particularly with the European Union, American partners, Portuguese-speaking countries, and North African states.
The sensitive topic of the current international economic crisis was than addressed by Dr João Miguel SOUCASAUX MENESES E SOUSA, the Chief Economist at the Ministry of Finance. The current Portuguese financial crisis, its causes and the corrective measures that are being taken were illustrated during a frank and sincere presentation.
The second plenary session started with an analysis of Portuguese Defence Policy in a briefing by Dr Luis FARO RAMOS, Director General for National Defence Policy. The overriding pillars of the National Defense Policy were broadly explained, and the ensuing Q&A period elicited keen interest from the audience.
During the fourth and final discussion of the day, the structure, organization, tasks and current commitments of the Portuguese Armed Forces were analyzed by Colonel José ABRACOS, Deputy Chief Plans and Policy of the Joint Armed Forces Staff.
Later that afternoon, the NDC Commandant and the Dean, Dr Richard D. HOOKER, attended office calls with the Chief of Defence, General Luis ESTEVES de ARAUJO, and the Minister of National Defence, Dr Jose Pedro AGUIAR BRANCO. The two leaders of Portuguese Defence expressed their great appreciation for the NDC’s activities, and confirmed their interest in continuing to send Portuguese Officers and Officials to attend the College’s courses.
The outstanding level of the meetings held in Lisbon confirms the excellent and enthusiastic cooperation between the Portuguese authorities and the NATO Defense College. In the evening, a reception generously offered by the National Defence Institute provided an excellent opportunity for further exchange of thoughts between Course Members and the Portuguese military authorities.