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|Portuguese Special Operations Troops Centre|
|Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais|
Portuguese Army Special Operations
|Active||1960 - Present|
|Type||Special Operations Forces|
|Part of||Rapid Reaction Brigade|
|Motto(s)||"Que os muitos por ser poucos não temamos"|
("The Brave tho' few shall ne'er the Many fear", from The Lusiads, Canto VIII, 36, v. 7)
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 first 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.
The CTOE has several courses:
For those already badged as special operations soldiers, there are also courses outside the CTOE:
Special Operations soldiers also take courses in friendly countries:
The CTOE is regiment level unit, commanded by a colonel, which includes:
The Special Operations Force (FOE - Força de Operações Especiais) is the operational component of the CTOE. It can constitute a special operations task group (SOTG) or it can contribute to a joint SOTG which can be created with special operations elements from other branches of the Armed Forces.
The FOE is commanded by a lieutenant-colonel and includes six special operations task units (SOTU). Each SOTU is commanded by a captain (except SOTU A1, which is commanded by a major) and includes 16 elements (only officers and NCOs).
The FOE includes: