Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais – CTOE Portugal

Members of CTOE Portugal

Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (CTOE) is elite special operations unit in Portuguese army. During their history, they are recognized as one of the best units of this type in Europe. Inside, CTOE there is a Long Range Recon Patrol Detachment.

With the end of the cold war and the SSSR disbanded, NATO alliance underwent a thorough reassessment of the security threats facing it the future. As the number of new security threats arising, a number of NATO members undertook reorganizations within their domestic armed forces. The same case was with Portuguese military. They reorganized and modernized many of its units, especially special forces, to allow them to respond more quickly to any potential military or humanitarian crisis that could arise at home or abroad.

Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (Special Operations Troops Centre) is based in the city of Lamego and is a unit of the Portuguese Army with the mission of instructing troops in unconventional warfare and Counter-Terrorism. Until 2006, it was known as CIOE – Centro de Instrução de Operações Especiais (Special Operations Instruction Centre).

Portugese CTOE members on patrol

The CTOE’s main operational units are called DOE, it’s the Special Operations Detachment. Their members are popularly known as Rangers because their missions and tasks are very similar to the US Army’s Delta Force or British Special Air Service. Their missions often include Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP), raids against high-value targets, locating enemy command and control centres, targeting and destruction of enemy air defences and radar systems, and POW rescue operations. The CTOE members can be infiltrated by parachute, helicopter, small boat, or by foot, they are ready for every scenario.

After the reorganization, the Portuguese CTOE got a new detachment, the Long Range Recon Patrol Detachment (LRRPD). The unit is assigned to the Portuguese component of the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Mobile Force (Land), or AMF (L). AMF is brigade sized unit, tasked with rapidly responding within 72 hours to any crisis arising in Europe. The Detachment has participated in AMF(L) operations since January 1997.


The 48 man LRRP Detachment was raised in 1996 and it is tasked with performing various missions and tasks similar to the US Army’s Special Forces or British SAS.  The LRRP Detachment is capable of operating independently behind enemy lines for a period of up to ten days.

The Detachment is composed of a special operations platoon, medical section, communications section, and transportation section. The special operations platoon is subdivided into a six-command section and four-five man patrols. The communications section provides a secure link between operational teams and higher headquarters. The transportation section is equipped with six trucks and two all-terrain vehicles. They provide transport of the units equipment and supplies. The unit has participated in a number of AMF (L) exercises including deployments to Norway; for cold weather training.

CTOE Insignia

Currently,  Long Range Recon Patrol Detachment is equipped with modern weapons, including the G-3 rifle and HK MP-5 SMGs, Israeli Galil rifles, and Uzi SMGs.

The members of CTOE LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol Detachment) are the best what Portuguese military can offer.