The Brazilian Army celebrates 65 years of the creation of the Special Forces in Brazil, in reference to the first Special Operations course, conducted in 1957.
On that occasion, 16 intrepid pioneers from the Airborne Division of the Parachute Infantry Brigade, led by Major Gilberto, began a new phase in the history of our Army. The Special Operations Course was inspired by an exchange with the U.S. Army, whose doctrinal evolution, after World War II, had established the Special Forces as we see them today.
The historical roots of Special Operations in Brazil coincide with the origin of the Brazilian Army in the brave resistance against the Dutch invasion in the 17th century. In that baptism of fire, the natives were led to structure a peculiar defense system, in which civilians and military, organized in “Ambush Companies”, adopted a modus operandi peculiar to Special Operations still in full force.
Among those who participated in the actions against the foreign invader, names like Captain Francisco Padilha and Sergeant Major Antônio Dias Cardoso stood out. Francisco Padilha, considered the pioneer of the “Commandos” activities, was chosen as the Patron of the 1st Commando Action Battalion, and Antônio Dias Cardoso, the Patron of the 1st Special Forces Battalion. In this way, these heroes contributed greatly to the awakening of the spirit of Brazilian nationality, resilience, and discipline, and are perpetuated in our history.
During the 20th century, the evolution of modern combat made it essential to adapt the structure of Brazilian Special Operations. In this sense, the desire to achieve noble objectives with determination took over all of us, and an 11-year trajectory was followed until we reached the year 1968, which marks the creation of the first Special Forces unit of the Brazilian Army – the Special Forces Detachment (DFEsp). This pioneer unit initially occupied the facilities in the Long Hill, behind the former Specialized Airborne Training Center.
In the early 1980s, after more than 20 years of effective operations, it was decided to expand the structure of the military organization, transforming it into a battalion. Thus, in 1983, the DFEsp was transformed into the 1st Special Forces Battalion, installed on the Camboatá Highway, in Guadalupe.
The art of warfare underwent significant transformations at the end of the 20th century. The growth of actions in the informational field, coupled with technological advances in the war sector, led to the emergence of conflicts with non-linear and asymmetric characteristics, increasing the role of Special Operations in these confrontations. In face of this scenario, the Army Staff activated a working group, with the purpose of studying the need and feasibility of the implementation of a Special Unit Operations Command.
The world was demonstrating that the evolution would continue. Global terrorism and the increased participation of non-state actors promoted notable changes in the dynamics of antagonisms, promoting the search for greater integration between the Special Operations Forces and the other operational vectors.
Thus, following the global trend and with the aim of multiplying the combat power of the Singular Forces, the Land Force created the Special Operations Brigade in 2002. In the scope of this evolution, the Commando Action Company was transformed into the 1st Commando Action Battalion, and the Counterterrorism Detachment, successor of the late Alfa-Omega Detachment, became part of the 1st Special Forces Battalion.
In 2003, the Army expanded the Special Operations Training Center and laid the foundations for the structuring of the Special Operations Training Center, increasing the specialization of our human resources. In addition, it implemented the 3rd Special Forces Company in Manaus (AM).
In 2013, the Special Operations Brigade was renamed Special Operations Command (COpEsp – Comando de Operações Especiais) and, in a recent ordinance, received the historical name of “Forte do Camboatá”. This strategic module of the Land Force has the capacity to operate inside and outside the national territory, through its ten military organizations.
Under the aegis of the United Nations, it is worth highlighting the significant participation of the then Peace Operations Detachment (DOPaz – Destacamento de Operações de Paz) for the benefit of the Brazilian Battalion in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, at the beginning of the 21st century. For more than a decade, our special operators proudly wore the blue helmet of the United Nations and the Brazilian flag printed on their uniforms, projecting our country in the concert of nations.
Since the creation of the COpEsp, the Special Operators have been challenged to face situations that, encompassed in the broad spectrum of conflicts and not framed in pre-established formats, require quick, secret, and unprecedented solutions. In this context, among the various highly sensitive operations, we highlight the participation of our “black caps” in major events and in the security of Brazilian embassies in Colombia, Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Currently, under the coordination of the Land Operations Command, the Area Military Commands have made extensive use of Special Operations in the various missions they conduct. In this sense, the integration between the COpEsp units and the conventional troops is allowing the multiplication of forces and promoting synergic coordination of efforts in terms of training, equipment, and employment.
Finally, we would like to highlight the value of the families of this select group of professionals, whose support and encouragement is the true support for these fighters. We know that these noble warriors never lose heart, holding in their hearts the unshakeable faith in the values evinced by our ancestors and the pride of belonging to the elite of the Caxias Army!
Special Forces Operators, congratulations on 65 years of history and tradition!
May Honor, this very special gift that man gives himself, accompany you on your journeys.
Wherever you are, we will be with you!
Commandos! Go ahead! Brazil!
*** Translated by The DEFCONPress Team ***