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Special Groups (Portugal)

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Title: Special Groups (Portugal)  
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Subject: Paratrooper, Commando, Portuguese Colonial War, Portuguese Air Force, Maroon beret
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Special Groups (Portugal)

Special Groups
Grupos Especiais
Active 1966-1975
Country Portuguese Angola, Portuguese Mozambique
Allegiance  Portugal
Branch Paramilitary forces
Type Special Forces
Role Counter-insurgency
Part of Portuguese Armed Forces
Engagements Portuguese Colonial War

The Special Groups (Port: Grupos Especiais or GE) were small military units of platoon size, set up from 1966 to 1974 by the Portuguese Armed Forces in Angola and in Mozambique. Later Paratrooper Special Groups (Grupos Especiais Páraquedistas or GEP) were formed, units able to conduct airborne operations. By 1974 there were 84 Special Groups and 12 Paratrooper Special Groups operating in Mozambique and 90 Special Groups operating in Angola.

Constitution and Training

Although they were trained and operated under the command of the Portuguese Army (and Portuguese Air Force for the GEP), the GE were not integrated into the Armed Forces and were considered paramilitary forces. The GE were made up of local volunteers, supported by senior Portuguese military personnel. With the exception of the GEP, each GE was usually fully established by members of the same ethnic African group. The GE received a similar training to commandos and the GEP to paratroopers. The GEP were created and used only in Mozambique.


Each GE or GEP was organized as a combat group, consisting of an officer (commander of group), a sergeant (assistant) and 26 soldiers, organized into 3 sections, each consisting of 2 squads. The commander and deputy from each group were typically military or former military personnel. The remaining fighters were local Africans. Usually four GEs or GEPs formed a company.

While the GEP were part of the Paratrooper Special Groups Battalion, the GE operated together with regular Army units, forming their intervention units.

Symbols and uniforms

The GE and GEP had as standard uniform a completely black battledress. However, they often used the camouflaged uniform of the Portuguese Army. As headgear, the GE used a Yellow beret and the GEP a Maroon beret.

See also

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