Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad – GOES

Author: Andreas Berg

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The Spanish National Police counter-terrorism task force named as Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad (GOES) was formed in 1989. The GOES stands for Special Security Task Forces which was founded by Spanish GEO (Grupo Especial de Operaciones). The GEO and GOES are two elite units under the Directorate of Spanish National Police.

Their Mission

The tasks of the GOES and its tactical intervention groups which are located in all Spanish major cities are counter-terrorism operations, high-risks arrests, and warrants, providing assistance to the major Spanish police units for combating organized crime.

Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad, GOES insignia/patch
Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad, GOES insignia/patch

The unit is also tasked with the protection of VIP persons and different governmental properties (such as the Palacio de la Moncloa , etc.) or any other police work with a special operations and tactics qualification required.

Usually, in the case of bigger counter-terrorism operations they are deployed as first-responders until the arrival of GEO (etc. incidents involving hostages, terrorist threat). Some of their officers are also assigned to VIP protection in foreign countries, such as Iraq, Algeria, DR Congo, Libya, Cuba where they are added to GOE teams.

The GOES teams also serve as support service for Judicial Police and the UDYCO – Drugs and Organized Crime Unit in case they are needed.


Their organization is very similar to the regular US-style SWAT units in larger cities. SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) is a term for law enforcement units which use specialized or military equipment and tactics in the United States.

SWAT-style units were first created in the 1960s to handle riot control or violent confrontations with criminals, the number and usage of SWAT teams increased in the 1980s and 1990s during the War on Drugs and later in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

GOES fundamentals were established in 1989 with the growing demand of situations requiring the intervention of GEO in different parts of Spain; so, the Spanish government decided to establish smaller units in different part of countries. These smaller units become known as Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad – GOES.

Training and selection

To become a member of GOES, the candidate needs to meet basic requirements:

  • to be an active service member with more than a year of experience in Spanish National Police
  • driving license “B”
  • BTP authorization from the Directorate General of Police
  • voluntary commitment to Special Operations Groups
  • not be for a period of another training

The candidate who meets the basic requirements is driven by various tests including medical exam, physical fitness test, interview and other tests which might be necessary.

Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad (GOES) conducting tactical drills in Barcelona, Spain
Grupos Operativos Especiales de Seguridad (GOES) conducting tactical drills in Barcelona, Spain

Once the candidate becomes a member of GOES he is sent to the basic training inside the unit where he will remain for at least one year until he becomes a regular member of the unit assigned to one of the teams.

Gear and equipment

The gear and equipment used in GOES teams consists of the various tactical uniforms alongside bulletproof vests and helmets. They are usually equipped with Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine guns with laser and flashlight systems, Glock 17 pistols. GOES members also have various visors and other special equipment such as thermal and night vision googles. Although in case of emergency they can also be provided with gear and weapons like those used by GEO.

Heckler and Koch MP5 Submachine gun used worldwide as primary weapon for various SWAT and Special Operations teams
Heckler and Koch MP5 Submachine gun used worldwide as primary weapon for various SWAT and Special Operations teams
Active:  1989-present
Country:  Spain
Type:  Special Forces (Police)
Role:  counter-terrorism, crime, raids, VIP protection, high-risk warrants
Estimated numbers (personnel):  around 500
Headquarters:  Jefaturas Superiores de Policía, different regions in Spain

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