You are currently viewing A New Military Training Set Up in Mozambique

A New Military Training Set Up in Mozambique

3 August 2021

In the last years, the already fragile situation in Mozambique has become even more dangerous. In particular, the northern province of Cabo Delgado has been hit by excruciating violence, putting the civilian population at risk. The 2017 outbreak of a notable rebellion has only made matters worse. At the moment, the security and humanitarian situation has reached the point of no return. More than 700,000 people have been internally displaced, and it is presumed that, currently, at least 1.3 million people, in Cabo Delgado and its neighbouring provinces of Niassa and Nampula require, immediate humanitarian assistance and protection (OCHA, 2021). Without any external intervention, these numbers are expected to drastically increase.

To restore safety and stability, both in the region of Cabo Delgado and in the whole country, the Mozambican authorities requested EU intervention. Consequently, the European Council has recently planned to set up an EU military training mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique). In his letter of 3 June 2021, the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, welcomed the involvement of an EU military training non-executive Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission in the country. On 12 June 2021, the European Council officially adopted the decision that green-lights the beginning of the work of the European Mission (Siebold, 2021).

This mission is currently planned to last two years, but an extension is not out of the question. The main short-term goal is to effectively support the capacity building of the Mozambican forces, to constitute a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in the near future. The military science traditional nomenclature considers a QRF an armed military unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, often to assist partners in need. This goal can only be reached by accurate military training, which includes operational preparation, specialised training on terrorism, and training and education on the protection of civilians. It goes without saying that this training must be conducted in line with international humanitarian and human rights principles (European Council, 2021).

Given the urgency of the matter, the Chief of Staff has already been appointed. The EUTM Mozambique mission chief will be the Director of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean.  The lead of the mission on the ground as Force Commander has been given to Brigadier General Nuno Lemos Pires, a Portuguese general with over 38 years of experience in command of international missions. The choice of a Portuguese force commander is certainly not to be solely attributed to the great skills of Brigadier General Nuno Lemos Pires. It must be considered that Mozambique was a Portuguese colony, and to this day, Portugal has great influence over the country (Tornimbeni, 2012). The latter has promptly assured its intervention by sending 60 soldiers to its former colony in May 2021 to implement the first training programme for the Mozambique troops. This programme is meant to last four months and aims to teach Mozambican forces to counter the insurgency, share intelligence, and use drones to track rebels’ movements (Reuters, 2021).

In addition to this first Portuguese intervention, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed the intention to mobilise between 200 and 300 soldiers to Mozambique by the end of the year (Army Technology, 2021). Again, Portugal has manifested a strong interest in the mission by proposing to provide half of the soldiers needed from the Exército Português (Euobserver, 2021).

This operation represents a possibility of redemption for the CSDP, while Germany and the other member states are still debating whether the EU and UN missions in Mali should be withdrawn after the recent military coup. In fact, the mission in Mali raised many questions about the EU’s level of ambition regarding international crisis management and even more questions about the actual power the EU has in resolving international conflicts. However, while the internal debate inflames about the aforementioned doubts, one thing is certain: military operations are essential for the future of the EU. This point was already made clear in 2018, when the Austrian EU president used the motto “A Europe that protects,” putting a “focus on security and the fight against illegal migration” as top priority in the EU agenda (Pietz, 2021), and surely the new military training set up in Mozambique is a great step towards its realisation.


Written by Francesca Colotta



Army Technology, “European Union to establish military training mission in Mozambique”, July 12, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 July, 2021].

EUObserver, “Portugal to spearhead EU military mission to Mozambique”, July 13, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 July, 2021].

European Council, “Mozambique: EU sets up a military training mission to help address the crisis in Cabo Delgado”, in Press Release, July 12, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 July, 2021].

OCHA, “Mozambique Situation Report”, June 1, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 21 July, 2021].

Pietz Tobias, “EU Crisis Management: Back to the Future”, in Internationale Politik Quarterly, June 03, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 27 July, 2021].

Reuters, “Portugal to send another 60 troops to Mozambique on training mission”, May 10, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 July, 2021].

Siebold Sabine, Robin Emmott, “EU agrees to send military training mission to Mozambique”, in Reuters, July 12, 2021, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 July, 2021]

Tornimbeni, Corrado. “The Informalization of Formal Portuguese Controls on People’s Movements and Identity in the Colony of Mozambique: The Heritage of Portuguese Colonialism in Current Local African Politics.” Portuguese Studies 28, no. 2 (2012): 216-229.