Images of the Viriato 23 exercise recently developed by the MOE and the FOE

Joint training of special operations units from Spain and Portugal

Spain and Portugal are two sister nations, united by a common past, by the same peninsula and by a military alliance: NATO.

The Rangers of the Portuguese Army: this is the Special Operations Force (FOE)
Special operations units from Chile, Spain and the United States in joint training

The good relationship between both countries also includes their Armed Forces. In 1998, Spain and Portugal signed a Defense Cooperation Protocol that it was updated in 2015. In addition, since 2006 there has been a Hispanic-Portuguese Security and Defense Council (CHLSD), aimed at improving military cooperation between both countries.

One of the areas of cooperation in this matter is the training of military units, which also includes its special operations units, among them those of its armies: the Special Operations Command (MOE) of the Spanish Army and the Special Operations Troop Center (CTOE)of the Portuguese Army, whose operational force is the Special Operations Force (FOE), whose story we saw here in September. Both the MOE and the CTOE have already participated in joint missions abroad.

On December 2, the Portuguese Army published information on the Viriato 23 exercise, a joint training between the MOE and the FOE carried out from November 20 to 30 in the Portuguese towns of Tancos and Lamego: "they carried out combined training actions of tactics, techniques and procedures of Special Operations", indicated that information, which referred to this exercise as "an opportunity to improve interoperability between the Special Operations Units of Portugal and Spain, creating synergies for possible employment in future crisis or conflict situations."

The exercise was assisted by aircraft from the Portuguese Air Force and the British Royal Air Force (RAF). Unfortunately, we only have images of this exercise released by the Portuguese Army, since the Spanish Armed Forces have not published anything about it. The aforementioned photos, taken by Bryan Ferreira, are of very good quality.

A Portuguese FOE operator aiming his Heckler & Koch HK416A7 assault rifle. His uniform wears the M18 camouflage, incorporated by the Portuguese Army five years ago. Next to him, crouching, is a Spanish MOE operator armed with a G-36KE carbine. They are sheltered behind one of the 24 EINSA Netón Light Special Operations Vehicles (VLOE) received by the MOE two years ago.

Two Portuguese FOE operators preparing to descend using the fast rope technique from an AgustaWestland AW119 helicopter of the Portuguese Air Force.

A Spanish MOE operator, in the foreground, armed with a G-36KE carbine. It wears the uniform and its equipment with Multicam camouflage, a mimetic pattern that has become very popular among special operations units from different countries. Behind the Spanish operator we see a member of the Portuguese FOE.

Two Spanish operators from the MOE and a Portuguese from the FOE, aiming their weapons from behind a VLOE EINSA Netón from the MOE. The Portuguese operator (in the center) is armed with an HK416A7. Spanish operators carry G-36KE carbines.

A Portuguese FOE operator, armed with an HK416A7, next to an AgustaWestland AW119 helicopter of the Portuguese Air Force, 29701 (cn 14959).

A Spanish operator from the MOE followed by a Portuguese colleague from the FOE. The Spaniard carries a G-36KE carbine and has on his helmet a Cross of Burgundy, the old flag of the Spanish Empire (flag common to Spain and Portugal between 1581 and 1640, when both countries were united under the Spanish Crown). The Portuguese operator is recharging its HK416A7. In the background on the right we see a Netón VLOE from the MOE.

A family photo with the participants in this Viriato 23 exercise, showing the flags of Spain and Portugal. In the background on the right we see a VAMTAC ST-5 VMOE from the FOE. It is the special operations version of the VAMTAC ST-5 manufactured by Urovesa in Galicia and used by the armies of both countries.

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