Portuguese Special Operations

Destacamento de Acções Especiais (DAE)


The DAE – Destacamento de Acções Especiais (Special Actions Detachment) is the Portuguese naval commando elite special forces unit of the Portuguese Navy. Raised in 1985, the unit is one of the smallest special operations units within the Portuguese Armed Forces. It is res

ponsible for conducting special operations, beach reconnaissance, combat search-and-rescue (CSAR), maritime counter-terrorism, demolition operations, and other missions in support of Portuguese and NATO armed forces.

DAE operatives are drawn from the ranks of experienced Marines. Upon completion of the basic selection phase prospective recruits then begin the first phase of their training. Phase 1 of their training is conducted at the Navy’s combat diver school. Students receive instruction in: basic combat diving techniques, EOD and underwater demolitions. Candidates who successfully complete the first phase are assigned to the DAE on a probationary status, and begin their second phase of training. Phase 2 instruction includes courses on: escape and evasion techniques, advanced driving, mountaineering, offensive operations and basic English. Once a trainee is permanently assigned to the DAE he will continue to receive various courses of instruction throughout his career.

The unit is currently composed of approximately 28 men, led by a Commander, and is subdivided into a command cell and four combat teams. The command cell contains the unit commander, his deputy (a Lieutenant Commander) and a small staff of two. The combat teams are composed of four men: three seamen and a commanding petty officer.

The DAE conducts regular training exercises with its NATO counterparts, including the United States Navy SEALs, British Special Boat Service, French Commando Hubert as well as the respective naval counter-terrorist units. They were deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, as part of the MONUC.


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