Brazilian Special Operations

Brigada de Operações Especiais (Bda Op Esp)

The Brigade of Special Operations (Brigada de Operações Especiais – Bda Op Esp), only unit in Latin America, is an operational command that integrates the Force of the Strategic Fast Action of the Brazilian Army and that it fits, in its structure, organizations destined to the conduction of the diverse special operations, as well as units of support. All its units possess great versatility and high strategic mobility, which allows its elements to act in a short window of time, any place inside the country or, if necessary, in the exterior, in order to reach the political, economic, military or psychological objectives.

The Bda Op Esp is the responsible step for the coordination and the control of the special operations in the Terrestrial Force. It is subordinated, administratively, to the Military of Plateaus and tied Command, for ends of preparation and job, to the Command of Terrestrial Operations, both located in Brazil. (Translated from multiple Brazilian sources)


“Special Forces. Any mission in any place, in any time in any way. “

3ª Companhia de Forças Especiais (Pára-quedista) – sediada em Manaus
Center of Instruction of Special OperationsCentro de Instrução de Operações EspeciaisCompany of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear DefenseCompanhia de Defesa Química, Biológica e Nuclear1º Battalion of Special Forces (Parachutist)1º Batalhão de Forças Especiais (Pára-quedista)Detachment of Psychological OperationsDestacamento de Operações Psicológicas1º Battalion of Action of Commands (Parachutist)1º Batalhão de Ações de Comandos (Pára-quedista)

The Brigade of Special Operations presents a peculiar organization that differentiates it of any another great unit of the Brazilian Army. In its bigger part, its military organizations (MAC) organic are only in the Terrestrial Force.

The Command and General staff are part of the Bda Op Esp, who has for mission to assist the Commander in the exercise of its attributions; the Center of Instruction of Special Operations (C I Op Esp); 1º Battalion of Action of Commands (1º BAC); 1º Battalion of Special Forces (1º B F Esp); the Detachment of Psychological Operations (Dst Op Psc); the Battalion of Support to the Operations Special (B AP Op Esp); 3ª Company of Special Forces (3ª Cia F Esp); the Administrative Base (B Adm); 6º Squad of Policy of the Army (6º Pel PE) and 1º Squad of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Defense (1º Pel DQBN).


Ahead of the new world-wide scene, threatened by the growth of the terrorism, and the new regional scene, threatened for the growth of narco-guerrillas, particularly the Columbian FARC, the Brazilian Government had decided to create the Brigade of Special Operations (Brigada de Operações Especiais – Bda Op Esp). It was Brazil’s desire to take a permanent seat in the Advice of Security of the ONU. A position that demands troops specialized for the accomplishment of combat missions and humanitarian actions.The Brazilian Army wanted to make use of a more versatile and efficient unit that would respond quickly in handling crisis’s and conflicts. They wanted the force to be especially motivated, trained and equipped.

The Bda Op Esp was reactivated in January of 2004 and is estimated to have a strength of two thousand, capable of being located to any part of the domestic territory in a maximum six hours. The group, subordinate directly to the President, is based in the quarter of Saint Genoveva, in Goiânia (GO). Originally the Bda Op Esp was set to be located in Rio De Janeiro, but the unit was transferred to Central Plateaus for decision of the command of the Army, that took into consideration the strategic positioning of the region.

“Goiânia has central localization. Therefore, the brigade will be next to any scene of operation…”, evaluated the minister of the Defense, who at the time was Jose Viegas Son. In Goiânia a special swimming pool for training of divers was also constructed.

The 500 men of the 1º Battalion of Special Forces were transferred to Goiânia. The Battalion of Action of Commands, the Detachment of Psychological Operations, the Detachment of Support to the Operations Special and a Squad of Policy was also to be created.

The origins of the Brazilian Special Forces go back to 1953, when the advanced parachutists were integrated into a rescue unit. This group, inspired by the doctrine of the Special Forces and the Rangers of the United States Army, and marked the beginning of the formation of the Special Forces of the Brazilian Army.

1º BFEsp, unit that congregated the commands and the special forces of the Brazilian Army, was created in November of 1983. Since September 27th 1984, it occupies the installations of the Camboatá, in the city of Rio De Janeiro. It received, in November of 1991, the historical denomination of Antonio Dias Cardoso, Brazilian hero of the War of the Guararapes campaign against the Dutch. Today the headquarters of old 1º BFEsp, were transformed into the Center of Instruction of Special Operations – CI OP ESP

Selection and Training

The volunteers to serve in the Bda Op Esp were to first be selected mainly for its physical capacity. Later, they leave for a training, in which is considered to be very psychologically demanding. The volunteer must have multiple abilities – to know how to parachute, scuba, to use firearms, and to communicate with different types of radios.


The Bda Op Esp can be used in efficient forms. It provides the deterioration of the military capacities of the enemy, through direct or indirect actions against its infra logistic structure, its systems of command and control (C2) and of air defense, compelling it to pledge it half if its defense of its rear. Amongst the great repertoire of missions and possibilities of the Bda Op Esp, it is able:

-to unfold itself in the enemy rear;
-to collect information of the battlefield;
-to carry through search, destruction, neutralization and interdiction of targets of significant value;
-to guide aerial attacks;
-to rescue staff friend;
-to kidnap staff enemy;

To plan and to lead operations of irregular war:
-escape and evasion.
-conduct movements of resistance (guerrilla) against invading forces of bigger transport, parallel to the regular actions lead by the Brazilian Armed Forces.
-counter-guerrilla warfare

Antiterrorist operations of the type:
-rescue of hostages in airplanes, banks, subway or boats;
-strategic security of staff VIP and installations;
-it has attacked the terrorist bases;
-explosive deactivation;
-monitor movement of terrorist groups.

The Bda Op Esp is extremely flexible and unconventional with the availability of various techniques, procedures and methods.They canlead operations with minimal direction and support, providing to the terrestrial operations with bigger possibilities (tactical and strategic) to attack the enemy where and when it will be more vulnerable. The men of the Bda Op Esp are capable to conquer the relative superiority and to destroy, neutralize or to prohibit aerodromes, surveillance radars, antiaircraft batteries, port installations, levees and dams, bridges and roads, installations of command and control, and more.

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