Special Operations Troops Centre
|Portuguese Army Special Operations|
Portuguese Army Special Operations
|Active||1960 – Present|
|Type||Special Operations Forces|
|Part of||Rapid Reaction Brigade|
|Motto||"Que os muitos por ser poucos não temamos" (That The Many For Us Being Few We Shall Not Fear), from Os Lusíadas, VIII, 36|
The CTOE - Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (Special Operations Troops Centre), based in Lamego, 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).
The CTOE contains an operational unit called DOE, its Special Operations Detachment, popularly known as Rangers, tasked with performing missions similar to the US Army's Delta Force or British Special Air Service. Some of these missions include conducting 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 unit can be infiltrated by parachute, helicopter, small boat, or by foot.
The CTOE, heir of the historical traditions of Regimento de Infantaria 9 (9th Infantry Regiment), was created on 16 April 1960 to form units specialised in counter-guerrilla operations, psychological operations, and mountaineering. These special, light-infantry units were called Caçadores Especiais (Special Hunters; the regular army light-infantry units were just called Hunters) and were the first units in the Portuguese Army to wear a beret (brown) and camouflage. They were elite units, with highly motivated, hand-picked personnel, whose instructors had taken courses on counter-insurgency and counter-guerrilla operations in France, Algeria, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain. When the Portuguese Colonial War began in 1961, there were already four companies of Special Hunters in Angola. Early in the fighting, the Caçadores Especiais received updated 7,62 mm NATO small arms such as the Espingarda m/961 (Heckler & Koch G3) and the FN/German G1 FAL rifle (known as the m/962); the FAL was a favored weapon of the Caçadores Especiais due to its lighter weight and better practical accuracy compared to the m/961 G3. The 4th Company Caçadores Especiais in particular was a very active one (their website contains lots of photos and detailed mission chronology, ). Still, by the end of 1961, the Special Hunters had been disbanded: some of their training was incorporated into the instruction of the regular army Hunter companies, and the brown beret and camouflage spread to the whole Army. The CTOE remained, now tasked with giving their courses to officers and NCOs, and to form commando troops.
After the creation of the special operations unit in 1981, the CTOE ceased to be just an instruction facility but also served as the HQ for the new Portuguese special operations unit. The unit members wear a grass green beret and are the heir of the Special Hunters: the beret badge includes a trumpet — a symbol of the Special Hunters; and the unit is known as Rangers because the instructors of the Special Hunters completed the Ranger Course and adapted the characteristics of that training to the Special Operations Course. The unit has operated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, East-Timor, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
- 1st- The RANGER is self-disciplined and of willing obedience;
- 2nd- The RANGER resists hunger, thirst, tiredness and discomfort;
- 3rd- The RANGER is always ready because his reason demands it and his preparation allows it;
- 4th- The RANGER consciously ponders all his decisions and never turns his back towards danger;
- 5th- The RANGER has confidence in leaders, respects them and makes himself loved by his subordinates;
- 6th- The RANGER is generous in victory and patient in adversity;
- 7th- The RANGER regulates its procedure according to the dictates of honor and duty;
- 8th- The RANGER is proud of the dignity of his mission devoted to it with enthusiasm and dedication;
- 9th- The RANGER is loyal and has in patriotism the noblest of his virtues;
- 10th- The RANGER constantly overcomes himself for firm will and indomitable value.
The CTOE has several courses:
- COE - Curso de Operações Especiais (Special Operations Course): direct action (reconnaissance, raids, hostage and POW rescues) and indirect action (insurgency and guerrilla, counter-insurgency and counter-guerrilla, military aid) - 21 weeks.
- Sniper Course (requires previous COE): 14 weeks.
- Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Course (requires previous COE): reconnaissance and direct action special operations (8 weeks).
- Irregular Operations Course (only for officers and NCOs of the permanent cadre): organisation, instruction, and orientation of irregular forces with of the objective of defending the national territory (Portugal) when invaded and start the resistance (4 weeks).
- Psychological Operations Course.
- Mountaineering Course.
- Terrorist Threats' Prevention and Combat Course.
For those already badged as special operations soldiers, there are also courses outside the CTOE:
- Combat Diving Course
- Forward Air Controller Course.
- Combat Medic Course.
- Signals Course.
- Demolitions Course.
- NBC Course.
- HUMINT Course.
- Military Parachuting Course.
- Small Boat Handling Course.
Special Operations soldiers also take courses in friendly countries:
- Airborne / Special Forces - United States
- Sniper Course - United Kingdom
- Winter Patrol Course - Germany
- Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School Course - Germany
- Special Operations Course - Spain
- Cold weather training - Norway
- Jungle Warfare - Brazil
- Heckler und Koch G3A3 and Heckler und Koch G3A4
- Heckler und Koch HK417 Recon limited use
- Heckler und Koch 416 very limited use
- Heckler und Koch G36K, Heckler und Koch G36KE and Heckler und Koch G36C
- Sig Sauer SG543
- Barrett M95
- Barrett M82A1
- Accuracy International Arctic Warfare-F
- Accuracy International AWSM (L115A1) and L115A3 limited use
- Heckler und Koch MSG-90A1
- Heckler und Koch HK417 Sniper limited use