By: John Elliott

Having the chance to visit another country’s counter-terrorism or special operations unit is something that doesn’t happen every day, so when the official invitation came in the mail a few years ago, I was on the first flight over to Lisbon, Portugal.

The security police force there – Policia de Seguranca Publica, or PSP for short – answers to the Home Ministry in Lisbon and is organized into a central command that controls regions and districts within the country. The PSP also runs the police academy (the ESP) as well as the police school (the EPP). In addition to that, the PSP includes specialized units: the Intervention Corps and the Special Operations Group (the GOE). The GOE is organized into five cells: command and control, training and instruction, intervention, signals, and support.

The GOE, which answers to the PSP, was created as a specialized unit in a decree signed into law in 1979. That decree created units capable of intervening in extreme situations. The missions entrusted to the GOE have been defined in four separate bills covering offensive actions conducted independently, while relying on rapidity, initiative, and determination to put terrorists and insurgents out of action.

During hostage seizures, GOE members take part in negotiations, neutralize suspects, and are trained to rescue hostages under countless evolving scenarios.

The Best Armament
Realizing that the best armament is of vital importance to any elite unit, the GOE utilizes an array of weaponry designed to be well-adapted for anti-terrorism missions. They include the Heckler and Koch HK MP-5 (mini A-1), the HK MP-5 A2 (standard butt), HK MP-5 (folding butt), and the sound-suppressed HK MP-5 SD1.

For semi-automatic pistols, they use the 9mm Browning, the Sig Sauer P228, the short 9mm Sig P230, and the .358 caliber Magnum Desert Eagle.

For sniper rifles, now we’re talking! The GOE is issued with the 7.62mm SG 66S Mauser (normally just for training purposes), the 7.62mm HK SG-1, and the 7.62mm HK PS G-1. They have also been issued the 5.56mm SG 550 sniping rifle and the 7.62mm Galil. Both sniper and assault groups are issued MX-350 radios.

In addition to all of that, they were also issued HK 502 12-gauge Riot Guns, 38mm Webrey Schermuly carbines firing gas grenades, as well as the MPR6 pistols chambered for the 38mm grenades.

While I had a chance to fire almost everything except the 38mm gas grenades, the most fun was had at the sniper range with those Galils. It was a memorable and remarkable trip, and reinforced in me the sure knowledge that freedom-loving countries must remain ever vigilant against the forces of evil and darkness in the world.

John Elliott is a forty-four-year veteran of law enforcement, writing from Illinois. Contact him at [email protected].

Photo: Wikimedia Commons