by: Peter Ganchev [ ]
This highly illustrated volume discusses the Portuguese Land Forces – one of the lesser known in Europe. The numbers peaked in the 70s, reaching 175,000 troops, but political changes since then have reduced the number to about 24,000 in more recent times. Exercito Portugues is now a modern force, with peacekeeping elements deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East-Timor, and Afghanistan
The Portuguese Army is led by the Army Chief of Staff and includes 7 arms of service: cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineers, logistics, communications and mixed units. The structure beyond the Army Staff includes 4 Functional Commands, 4 Military Schools, 2 military zones (Azores and Madeira), three operational brigades and a number of bases (referred to as regiments).
The three operational brigades that are the spearhead of Exercito Portugues: the Rapid Reaction Brigade, the Mechanized Brigade and the Intervention Brigade, are the main users of the reviewed motor pool.
145 color photographs photographs and 7 graphics are printed on 64 glossy pages. Organization, disposition and vehicle procurement programs are described in the first 7 pages. From then on it is all images of the types in service, split in 10 classes.
First is the Light Tactical Vehicles – from the indigenous UMM Alters to current HMMWV's, Toyota L200s and Chevy pickups. An interesting mix of trucks follows, ranging from Iveco 1,5 tonne truck to a 4x4 Mercedes Actros heavy tractor. Dump trucks, graders and MAN ribbon bridge carriers are just part of the equipment of Engineers.
The Air Defence Force vehicles are represented by a mobile FAAR radar system and Chaparral tracked launcher. NBC Forces also receive a honorable mention. Panhard VBL and AML-60, as well as the Portuguese-built Chaimite and its replacement – the Steyr Pandur II – fills in the Wheeled Armored Vehicles section.
Pictures of light tracked armor represent mostly the many versions of the omnipresent M113 – nearly 400 vehicles of are in service. M109A2 and A5 are on strength with the self-propelled artillery units.
The armored engineering and recovery vehicles follow – M728, M60AVLB and M88. The volume concludes with the tanks, starting with the M24, through the Pattons and up to the ex-Dutch Leopard 2A6 currently serving with the Mechanized brigade.
The unique organization of this army is a result of its shaping as a quick-reaction force, that could be deployed globally and participate in any kind of conflict – and its equipment is selected accordingly.