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 surrounded by mountains close to the Douro River. The very cold environment in the winter mixed very hotly in the summer, the mountain terrain, and the harsh training the men receive is a great recipe to create very tough men.
Organized in Special Operations Platoons and Task Units (TU), but together with support and logistics, they have a Battalion-sized unit. The CTOE is composed of a specially selected man who is organized, trained, equipped, and uses techniques, tactics, and procedures nonstandard to regular forces. They can conduct activities in all spectrums of warfare, independently or integrated with other regular or irregular troops to achieve victory.
In the case of Political needs, they can also 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 creating 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.
The regular TASK UNIT comprises a 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,
- 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 its commander finds suitable.
Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces have been deployed worldwide. Some 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.
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 few years. Especially in what concerns the individual soldier’s 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. Participation in the United Nations, European Union, and NATO operations is a strong asset to these organizations and their 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.