Historically, Portugal has played a major role in maritime commerce and military power. Dating back to the year 1585, the Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais de Portugal, or the Portuguese Marine Corps, has had a rich history of service. Portuguese Marines served with distinction throughout the colonial era against the forces of the other major European powers. They also played an important role in protecting Portugal’s royal family from Napoleon’s forces in 1808. Over a century later, they fought in Angola, Guinea and Mozambique for a 14-year period starting in 1961. Since 1997, Portugal’s Marines have participated jointly and separately in peace support and humanitarian assistance operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Timor-Leste, the former Republic of Zaire, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Missions

Today, Portugal’s Marine Corps provides a ready, operational combat force for the national defense of Portugal, and as a power projection capability, it supports the interests of the nation overseas. As a subdivision of Portugal’s Navy, the Marine Corps forces are amphibious in nature and offer flexibility and mobility.

Operational units of the Marine Corps include the 1st Marine Battalion, 2nd Marine Battalion, Combat Support Company, Tactical Transport Company, Assault Landing Unit, Naval Police Unit and the Special Actions Detachment. The 1st and 2nd Marine Battalions provide the core of the manpower that can be used in combat or humanitarian operations. Both battalions can be tasked to conduct offensive amphibious landings, securing Portugal’s naval bases and those of her allies, and providing shipboard detachments on vessels of the Portuguese Navy.

Among the various small arms and equipment the Marines use, GLOCK pistols are the handguns of choice. Portugal’s elite Marines, like many other European forces, use the GLOCK 17 in 9×19. According to a Marines spokesman, the GLOCK pistols have proven to be very durable in service and popular with the Marines due to their ergonomic design and other factors, including GLOCK’s black nitride finish, which results in excellent corrosion resistance in the harsh sea conditions the Marines operate in. The GLOCK 17 is also considered very accurate because of the pistol’s barrel length, sight radius and trigger.

Special Actions

A special operations unit known as the Destacamento de Acções Especiais or Special Actions Detachment, commonly referred to by the Portuguese abbreviation “DAE,” is considered to be the most elite unit in the Portuguese Marine Corps. The DAE is responsible for conducting amphibious raids, reconnaissance, covert operations and destruction of high-value targets. DAE personnel carry out independent operations or operations in support of other units as part of naval and amphibious missions. DAE Marines are specially trained to conduct high-risk assault missions aboard fixed platforms, ships and boats at sea as part of counter-terrorism and criminal enforcement actions. Hostage rescue of passengers and crew, as well as recovery of ships from hostile combatants, is also a vital role of the DAE. Another common task is Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), which involves recognizing, disarming and destroying explosive devices.

DAE Marines can be called upon to perform a wide range of actions at sea and on land that require exceptional skills and the use of specialized equipment. DAE personnel can be inserted into an area of operation by naval surface ship, submarine and by air. Technical diving, parachuting, helicopter fast-roping, and small boat operations are just some of the skill-sets employed by DAE Marines during insertions. These DAE Marines are required to maintain high standards of fitness, training and individual skills. Given the nature of these demands, the admission of candidates is very limited and selective.

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