Invasion of Goa (1961)

December 31st, 2011  

Topic: Invasion of Goa (1961)

Hello there, I am a new user to this forum and joined to ask this somewhat specific question.

As Portugal after WWII became increasingly isolated internationally due to its pro empire stance, by 1961 Goa was seen as the last hint of colonialism in India.

Now my question for the community here is this:

Why when Portugal had a fairly large military budget for its time and its whole national identity was built around supporting the empire, did they garrison Goa with such a weak force? The Portugese government was more than willing to fight a long and costly war in Africa which had the same status as Goa yet it did not deploy nearly the force used in the campaigns there.

I understand that Portugal was no international power, but with an authoritarian government that's military budget was in excess of 5% of GDP, I simply do not understand why there wasn't "more of a fight".

Thanks in advance for any replies.
January 2nd, 2012  
I will take a bit of a shot here and say that given the relative sizes of both nations and the location we are talking about it was a fight Portugal was never going to win, they put a small force there that they could maintain logistically who's role was more a deterant than a defence.
January 10th, 2012  
Apparently in 1960 the Portuguese under-secretary of Army Staff had recommended a force of no more than 3500 to garrison Goa.

When the Indians took Goa they obviously greatly outnumbered the Portuguese forces. However when the situation initially began, the Portuguese had 12,000 personnel in Goa. Portugal also lacked the support of allied/friendly nations (e.g. the US & Pakistan both denied Portugal the use of airfields that would be needed as stopover points to fly supplies to Goa).

Why the under-secretary recommended a reduction in numbers seems to me a reaction of the under-secretary to the hard-line attitude of the Portuguese Prime Minister who had basically said (paraphrasing) the military in Goa will either be victorious or dead.

I'm left with the impression that Portugal's senior Army personnel believed that it was suicide to fight India even with the original garrison force of 12,000 so they deliberately organized for the force to be reduced to (I believe) save as many soldiers & sailors before the fighting began.
January 10th, 2012  
I think that is possible as it was a no win situation for Portugal given that even had they been able to build up a sizeable force there they could never have supplied it sufficiently to keep that force in action against a country the size of India.
January 10th, 2012  
Goa was a small small spot on a huge continent, and to start a fight it could not win is a stupid idea. Not only would such an action cost a lot in Portuguese lives they would also have had to lay out a lot of money to do so.

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