Portugal's Strategic Territories

Courtesy Reuters

SINCE the ninth meeting of the Atlantic Pact nations in Lisbon in February last, Portugal, the little seaboard country that looks out across the Atlantic toward the Americas, has developed a community consciousness which is the mark of her absorption into the common defense of Western civilization.

Portugal is lacking in heavy industry and is not in a position to contribute to the common cause on a large scale with raw materials and troops. Fully mobilized, her Army numbers 700,000 men, now rapidly being equipped with modern American and British matériel. Her Air Force is small and in the event of war seems destined to be used more for scouting and Atlantic rescue work than for combat. Her Navy comprises about 60 vessels, counting training ships, hydrographic ships and patrol boats; but it does not include a cruiser, battleship or aircraft carrier. Experts say that the Portuguese Navy is at least ten units below desirable strength, and although sloops, destroyers and submarines now regularly exercise with the other Pact fleets off the Atlantic coast, no program has yet been set in motion to remedy this deficiency.

Portugal's neutrality during the last war, and the loan of her Azores bases to the Allies within the framework of the 600-year-old Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, showed that her adjacent islands are of immense strategic value in warfare in the Atlantic. Last year the United States concluded an agreement with Portugal for the use of the full facilities of these bases in peace and war. The agreement also provided that the same facilities should be extended to Great Britain in the case of war, and that American officers should train Portuguese personnel at the Lajens air base.

With the threat to world peace coming from the East, all of Portugal's vast overseas Empire assumes importance. Her overseas possessions--East and West--cover some 2,170,276 square kilometers. Their coastlines, not including those of the adjacent islands, stretch along 5,534 kilometers of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans or of other Asiatic seaboard. They vary

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