Foreign recruits for Portugal’s armed forces?
Portugal’s armed forces are suffering from serious personnel shortages. A growing number of military staff and soldiers are quitting due to poor working conditions. The ruling Socialist Party PS has now proposed opening up the army to foreign citizens to combat the shortage of new recruits. Commentators are divided over whether this is a good idea.
A contribution to integration
Writing in Expresso, retired Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Silva Machado makes the case for foreign recruits:
“We have hundreds of thousands of migrants, their supervision is questionable in many cases, and for many of them the living conditions are dreadful. So selecting a thousand foreigners, training them, organising them, paying them and providing them with accommodation just as is done with Portuguese would not be a problem. It would be a contribution to their integration in the service of Portugal. There are many children of emigrants in the Portuguese armed forces today. ... However, if the salaries, careers, living conditions in the barracks and medical and social care are not improved, foreigners will not be our salvation.”
We don’t want an army of mercenaries!
José Mendes, a former member of the Socialist government, rejects the idea in Diário de notícias:
“The soldiers are poorly paid, they careers are hardly attractive, and the social and medical care they receive is inadequate. These investments are necessary because the depletion of the military is imminent. Attempting to meet the demand by recruiting foreigners will lead to a reduction in the level of competence and low wages. There is a risk of attracting people who come only out of necessity, who submit to what the Portuguese reject and who do not respect Portugal’s values. Then we would have mercenaries, not an army!”