Friday, February 26, 2021

Minister proposes strengthening of CEMGFA’s authority and competences

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Mário Cruz / Lusa

The Minister of National Defense, João Gomes Cravinho

The Minister of Defense will propose to extend the competences of the Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff (CEMGFA), who will now have operational command of all military activity.

In an interview with Lusa, the minister João Gomes Cravinho announced that the proposed law to change the Armed Forces’ top command structure will enter Parliament “in the coming weeks” and said it had the support of military leaders, despite “some questions about how it could work.”

“Nowadays a reform is necessary in order to place the Armed Forces as a group under the authority of CEMGFA. It is an important, fundamental reform, but it is also something that corresponds to another step in a process that has many years and also corresponds to a modernization that has already been done in most European countries ”, he justified.

The Minister of National Defense underlined that, among NATO countries, there is no longer “a model similar to the Portuguese” as they “have already evolved into a more suitable model, which is the CEMGFA have authority over the three branches and also about new skills, cyber defense and military health ”.

The three branches of the Armed Forces – Navy, Army and Air Force – “will continue to exist and have their own distinct identity” and the creation of a single general staff is not on the table, said the defense minister, interview that will be published this Wednesday and Thursday.

And what will be the role of the heads of the military branches in the new organic? “Quite simply, the generation of forces, the recruitment, the instruction, the formation of the forces, the readiness, making them have all the qualities necessary for the exercise of the missions and the support of the forces”, he replied.

The overall objective of the reform is to allow the CEMGFA “have at your disposal at any time the forces it needs to carry out its missions “and favor an” overview “of the Armed Forces’ needs and investment processes, he added.

According to the general lines of the Government’s proposal, the amendments to the Organic Law of Armed Forces Bases (LOBOFA) reinforce the authority of CEMGFA, which will have the heads of the military branches under their hierarchical dependence and coordination capacity of the General Staff of branches.

The chiefs of staff “come to depend on the CEMGFA for all areas of military activity, including planning, directing and controlling the execution of the military defense strategy, the administration of military resources and capabilities”.

With the exception of “very specific” tasks such as aerial maritime search and rescue, “All missions are now under operational command of CEMGFA ”, so that there is“ an overall view ”.

In practice, military chiefs stop “dispatching” directly with the Minister of Defense, but do so with the CEMGFA for military matters.

The Council of Chiefs of Staff will, in the proposal of the Minister of Defense, no longer have the current deliberative and coordinating powers, and will mainly have consultative functions.

Asked if this proposal deserved the agreement of the military leaders, Gomes Cravinho said that he has already met with the Superior Military Council and that the return was “very positive”: “[As chefias militares] gave their commitment in relation to this reform, they considered it natural and I am confident that I will be able to count on the military chiefs to design the most detailed parts of this reform ”.

The implementation of this reform implies the revision of LOBOFA, approved in 2009 and amended in 2014, with an absolute majority of deputies in office.

Gomes Cravinho said that he hopes that Parliament “can vote on the diploma before the end of the parliamentary year”, that is, until the summer, hoping to gather “the maximum consensus among political forces”. In addition to the LOBOFA review, the Government will also submit a proposal to amend the National Defense Law.

It is recalled that, this Tuesday, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, reappointed, at the Government’s proposal, the admirals Anthony Silva Ribeiro as chief of the Armed Forces General Staff (CEMGFA) and Anthony Mendes Calado as chief of staff of the Navy (CEMA).

Last Thursday, in the Council of Ministers, the Executive decided to propose the two-year extension of the admiral’s mandates in their respective positions, which ended on March 1 of this year.

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Minister proposes strengthening of CEMGFA's authority and competences