Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces

Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces (PRT SOF) with FN SCARs and FN Minimi
Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces Land Task Unit with SCAR L and FN Minimi 556 (Photo: XY)

They are the Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) and are part of the Army Rapid Reaction Brigade. They operate under Special Operations Forces Center (Portuguese: Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (CTOE)).

They are based in Lamego, a city in the North of Portugal surround by mountains and very close to the Douro River. The very cold environment in the winter mixed very hotly in the summer, the mountain terrain together with the harsh training the men receive is a great recipe to create very tuff Men.


Organized in Special Operations Platoons and Task Units (TU), but together with support and logistics, they have a Battalion size unit. The CTOE is composed of a specially selected man, which is organized, trained, equipped and uses techniques, tactics, and procedures that are nonstandard to regular forces. They are able to conduct activities in all spectrums of warfare, independently or integrated with other regular or irregular forces in a way to achieve victory.

Members of CTOE Portugal
Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces (Photo: XY)

In the case of Political need, they are also able to conduct secret or even covert operations. Special Operations can be conducted directly against an enemy, or indirectly by training and supporting local foreign military or even create militia from populations.

Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces Task Unit can be infiltrated by air, land or water and coordination with Air, Land, and Naval Firepower support is common in any Joint Operations Area as it augments Special Operations capacities.

Task unit

The regular TASK UNIT is composed of Commander (Captain), Operations and Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant), Operations and Intelligence Sargent, Team and Logistics Master Sargent, one support section, one maintenance section, one medical section, one communications section and a Platoon of Special Operations soldiers. Sometimes, if needed, it can be augmented with Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) personnel.


Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces missions include:

  • Perform studies and experiments with new tactics and gear,
  • Organize, train and maintain Special Operations Forces,
  • Organize, train and mentor irregular/civilian forces,
  • Organize and perform Subversive Warfare in case of homeland invasion by foreign forces,
  • Unconventional warfare,
  • Counter-Terrorism,
  • Psychological warfare
  • Direct and indirect actions,
  • Raids and Sabotage against high-value targets,
  • Long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP),
  • Locating enemy command and control centers,
  • Targeting and destruction of enemy air defenses and radar systems,
  • Hostages, POW, and other personnel rescue operations,
  • Many others that it´s commander find suitable.


Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces have been deployed worldwide. Some of the known countries are Angola, Mozambique, Guinee-Bissau, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, East-Timor, Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic. They have been a part of NATO Immediate Reaction Forces since its creation.

Exercito Portugues substitui a espingarda automatica G3
Portuguese soldier with FN SCAR-L (Photo: Portuguese Army)

Working in other countries for long time period missions demands that the unit acquires knowledge of the local language and cultural costumes. English and French are common languages taught to the unit. Portugal has a long military tradition in Africa so this is one area of operations where the unit feels very comfortable


Some of the foreign qualifications that the Officers and Non-Commission Officers take are:

  • Forward Air Controller (FAC) in Germany
  • Sniper in the United Kingdom,
  • Special Forces in the United States,
  • Airborne in the United States,
  • Ranger in the United States,
  • Special Operations Military Free-Fall in the United States,
  • Jungle warfare in Brazil,
  • Arctic Warfare in Norway,
  • Enemy vehicles recognition in Germany,
  • Long-range reconnaissance patrol in Germany

Weapons and Gear

Portuguese Army SOF has been modernizing itself for the last years. Especially in what concerns the individual soldier equipment. New weaponry like assault rifles, silencers, light, and medium machine guns, Trijicon and Schmidt & Bender scopes, AN PEQ-16B laser/illuminator modules, AN PVS-21 night vision goggles, but also protection equipment like the Ops core Helmets, Warrior assault systems Tactical Vests and someday by day items like the mystery ranch backpacks, Harris Radios and Peltor Headsets.

Portuguese Army SOF is a modern force with experience in many theatres. With participation in the United Nations, European Union, and NATO operations, it is a strong asset to these Organizations and its partners. Last year, they received a new batch of FN SCAR assault rifles and FN MINIMI Squad Automatic Weapons. They also have chosen Glock 17 Gen5 FS Coyote as their new service pistol.

Their motto is: “Que os muitos por sermos poucos não temamos” – Don´t fear the many just because we are few.

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