Leadership: October 29, 2002


The head of the Portuguese armed forces was dismissed for publicly criticizing the shrinking defense budget. Portugal and Canada, two of NATO weakest (militarily) members are getting weaker. Both nations have been cutting their military for over a decade. Portugal, with a population of 10 million, is spending about $1.3 billion a year (to support 43,000 troops.) Canada, with a population of 31 million, is spending about $7.7 billion a year (to support 56,000 troops.) Both nations try to maintain a credible naval force to protect large shorelines. But in both countries, the cost of modern weapons is making it impossible to keep equipment up to date. Senior Canadian officers have also been outspoken, but that is tolerated, and the criticism is largely ignored. Both countries are democracies where the people have selected butter instead of guns. But the senior commanders in both nations know that if there should ever be combat involving their troops, more of them would die because of the skimpy defense spending. No one likes to discuss that openly, but that's what it comes down to.


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