Portuguese Ministry of Defense
With the foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as a founding member, in 1949, Portugal assumed the commitment to structure a political-administrative defense structure, with its own Ministry. The Ministry of National Defense is therefore the organism responsible for preparing and executing the National Defense and Portuguese Armed Forces policy.
1. The Ministry of National Defense's commitment to national technological research and development has been increasing in recent years, as was the case with support to the AuxDefense consortium. Is it a tendency to maintain?
The competencies of the Ministry of National Defense (MDN), and in particular of the Directorate-General for National Defense Resources, include the implementation of support measures for Research and Development (R&D) in Defense. In this context, it is intended to promote Defense R&D that can support capacity building, both in the national context (through calls) where projects such as AUXDEFENSE were developed, as well as internationally (through participation in collaborative projects under the aegis of the European Defense Agency, as well as in scientific activities within the scope of the NATO Science and Technology Organization). The tendency is to promote Defense R&D, at national and international level, to allow monitoring of European initiatives, namely the European Defense Fund.
2. In your opinion, the research carried out in Portugal is able to rival what is being done in the great world military powers?
There are areas of excellence in Research where Portugal is able to assert itself worldwide, including rivaling the great world military powers. The materials sector combined with textiles or the software development sector associated with unmanned aerial systems, among others, are examples where Portugal is able to assert itself with relevant results with competitive systems and products. However, the limitation of financial resources does not allow to bet across different areas as the great military powers do, so it is essential to carefully apply the resources.
3. With the pandemic we saw military personnel from the three branches of the Armed Forces participating in the fight against this ‘invisible enemy’. In your opinion, could these biological threats be more frequent in the future?
The Armed Forces have been gaining relevance and national recognition in terms of their ability to respond to extreme situations, such as in fighting fires, and it is also happening in the fight against the pandemic of COVID-19, because the preparation and the set military capabilities allows organization and flexibility. It is important to recognize that the current threat is a public health issue and there are entities responsible for articulating the response, where the military can help in extreme situations such as the current pandemic. In the future, there may be more biological or other threats, when the effects are extreme it may be increasingly necessary to resort to the Armed Forces for their characteristics supporting civil entities.
4. The Ministry of National Defense is one of the main partners of Fibrenamics - University of Minho. What advantages do you find in this collaborative work?
The Ministry of National Defense, through the DGRDN, chose a series of meritorious projects, among which AUXDEFENSE, which has stood out. In fact, the AUXDEFENSE community has already expanded beyond the project itself, and a series of initiatives is underway, highlighting a cycle of conferences on the topic of advanced materials for defense purposes. MDN supports and will support such initiatives. At European level, programs such as the R&D financing framework and the future European Defense Fund, support collaborative projects, which constitute the present and the future, including in the context of Defense.
Interviewed: Major Marco Pinto, Major Aeronautical Engineer - Ministry of Defense of Portugal