Armed Forces General Staff (Portugal)

The Armed Forces General Staff (Portuguese: Estado-Maior-General das Forças Armadas), or EMGFA, is the supreme military body of Portugal. It is responsible for the planning, command and control of the Portuguese Armed Forces.

Armed Forces General Staff
Estado-Maior-General das Forças Armadas
Military Standard of Portugal
Active1950–1974 (SGDN);
1974–present (EMGFA)
BranchArmed forces
TypeMilitary staff
Part ofPortuguese Armed Forces
Motto(s)Que quem quis sempre pôde
("Who wills aye finds a way", from The Lusiads, Canto IX, 95, v. 6)
EngagementsInvasion of Goa
Portuguese Colonial War
Afghanistan War
Peacekeaping missions
Western Sahara
Current ChiefAdmiral António da Silva Ribeiro

EMGFA is headed by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (Portuguese: Chefe do Estado-Maior-General das Forças Armadas) or CEMGFA, the highest rank of general in the Portuguese Armed Forces.


The present Armed Forces General Staff was created in 1950, as the Secretariat-General of National Defence (Portuguese: Secretariado-Geral da Defesa Nacional) or SGDN. The SGDN was the central planning organization of the Defense, being headed by the Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, under the dependency of the minister of National Defense (both roles also being created at the same time). Besides having the role of secretary-general of the SGDN, the CEMGFA also assumed most of the responsibilities until then assigned to the military heads of the Navy and of the Army (the then existing service branches, as the Air Force would only be created in 1952). The creation of the SGDN and of the roles of CEMGFA and minister of National Defense marked the integration of the several military service branches and so the creation of the Armed Forces of Portugal as a single organization.

In 1969, it was decreed that SGDN should be remodeled in order to be transformed into the EMGFA, as the organization for the joint administration of the Armed Forces. However, transformation of the SGDN into the EMGFA occurred only in 1974.


The Armed Forces General Staff is integrated into the Portuguese Ministry of National Defence and includes:

  • The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA)
  • The Joint Staff (EMC, Estado-Maior Conjunto)
  • The Joint Operational Command (COC, Comando Operacional Conjunto)
  • The operational commands of the Azores and Madeira
  • The commanders-in-chief that can be created under the CEMGFA, in times of war
  • The Military Security and Information Center (CISMIL, Centro de Informações e Segurança Militares)
  • The general support organizations

Under the dependency of the CEMGFA are also:

The Chief of the General Staff

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces is the operational commander of the Portuguese Armed Forces in times of peace. In times of war, he assumes the complete command of the Armed Forces. The CEMGFA is a general officer of one of the three branches of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force), appointed by the President of Portugal, by proposal of the Government of Portugal.

List of chiefs of the General Staff

No. ChiefTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branch
de Passos e Sousa, Aníbal César ValdêsArmy General
Aníbal César Valdez de Passos e Sousa
5 August 19506 December 19511 year, 123 days Portuguese Army
de Bettencourt, Manuel OrtinsRear admiral
Manuel Ortins de Bettencourt
12 December 19519 February 19553 years, 59 days Portuguese Navy
Moniz, Júlio BotelhoArmy General
Júlio Botelho Moniz
3 March 195513 August 19583 years, 163 days Portuguese Army
Ferraz, José António da Rocha BelezaArmy General
José António da Rocha Beleza Ferraz
22 August 195812 April 19612 years, 233 days Portuguese Army
de Araújo, Manuel GomesArmy General
Manuel Gomes de Araújo
13 April 19613 December 19621 year, 234 days Portuguese Army
Deslandes, Venâncio AugustoAir Force General
Venâncio Augusto Deslandes
16 August 19684 September 19724 years, 19 days Portuguese Air Force
Gomes, Francisco da CostaArmy General
Francisco da Costa Gomes
[lower-alpha 1]
5 September 197213 March 19741 year, 189 days Portuguese Army
Cunha, Joaquim da LuzArmy General
Joaquim da Luz Cunha
[lower-alpha 2]
19 March 197428 April 197440 days Portuguese Army
Gomes, Francisco da CostaArmy General
Francisco da Costa Gomes
[lower-alpha 3]
29 April 197413 July 19762 years, 75 days Portuguese Army
Eanes, António RamalhoArmy General
António Ramalho Eanes
(born 1935)
[lower-alpha 4]
14 July 197616 February 19814 years, 217 days Portuguese Army
de Melo Egídio, Nuno Viriato TavaresArmy General
Nuno Viriato Tavares de Melo Egídio
17 February 198118 February 19843 years, 1 day Portuguese Army
Ferreira, José LemosAir Force General
José Lemos Ferreira
1 March 19848 March 19895 years, 7 days Portuguese Air Force
Carneiro, António SoaresArmy General
António Soares Carneiro
29 March 198925 January 19944 years, 302 days Portuguese Army
da Ponte, António Carlos FuzetaAdmiral
António Carlos Fuzeta da Ponte
(born 1935)
21 February 19949 March 19984 years, 16 days Portuguese Navy
Santo, Gabriel Augusto do EspíritoArmy General
Gabriel Augusto do Espírito Santo
17 March 19988 August 20002 years, 144 days Portuguese Army
Santos, Manuel José Alvarenga de SousaAir Force General
Manuel José Alvarenga de Sousa Santos
12 August 200023 August 20022 years, 11 days Portuguese Air Force
Cabeçadas, José Manuel Garcia MendesAdmiral
José Manuel Garcia Mendes Cabeçadas
4 November 20025 December 20064 years, 31 days Portuguese Navy
Pinto, Luís ValençaArmy General
Luís Valença Pinto
(born 1946)
5 December 20064 February 20114 years, 61 days Portuguese Army
Araújo, Luís Evangelista EstevesAir Force General
Luís Evangelista Esteves Araújo
(born 1949)
7 February 20117 February 20143 years, 0 days Portuguese Air Force
Monteiro, Artur Neves PinaArmy General
Artur Neves Pina Monteiro
(born 1952)
7 February 20141 March 20184 years, 22 days Portuguese Army
Ribeiro, António Manuel Fernandes da SilvaAdmiral
António Manuel Fernandes da Silva Ribeiro
(born 1957)
1 March 2018Incumbent1 year, 277 days Portuguese Navy

See also


  1. Dismissed because of refusal to swear loyalty to the Prime Minister Marcello Caetano in a public ceremony
  2. Dismissed following the Carnation Revolution
  3. Simultaneously served as President of the National Salvation Junta (30 September 1974 – 14 March 1975), 15th President of Portugal (30 September 1974 – 13 July 1976) and President of the Revolutionary Council (14 March 1975 – 13 July 1976)
  4. Simultaneously served as 16th President of Portugal (14 July 1976 – 9 March 1986) and President of the Revolutionary Council (14 July 1976 – 30 September 1982)


  • RIBEIRO, António S., Organização Superior da Defesa Nacional, Prefácio, 2004
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