Special Groups (Portugal)
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|Country||Portuguese Angola, Portuguese Mozambique|
|Part of||Portuguese Armed Forces|
|Engagements||Portuguese Colonial War|
The Special Groups or GE (Grupos Especiais in Portuguese) 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 or GEP (Grupos Especiais Paraquedistas) were formed, these being units able to conduct airborne operations. By 1974 there were 84 GE and 12 GEP operating in Mozambique and 90 GE 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 (platoon-sized), 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 all grouped together under a single parent unit the Batalhão de Grupos Especiais Páraquedistas (Battalion of Special Groups Paratroopers), the GE were dispersed, operating under the command of several regular Army units and employed as their intervention sub-units.
Symbols and uniforms
The GE had, as a standard uniform, a completely black battledress. However, they often used the camouflaged uniform of the Portuguese Army in the field. As headgear, the GE used a Yellow beret and one GEP garnet red beret, both with the emblem of GE (Shield of Mozambique Province on a dagger and surrounded by a laurel wreath). The GEP wore the Portuguese Air Force paratroopers camouflaged uniform and a Maroon beret. It should be noted that the GEP was the first Portuguese military force to use a red beret, prior to the commands, that only officially adopted its use in 1974.