The Special Groups (Grupos Especiais or GE) were African para-military formations raised in Angola and Mozambique during the Portuguese Colonial War. They had a distinctive black uniform with a colourful beret. The GE were so successful that, in Mozambique, the Portuguese recruited a battalion of Paratrooper Special Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) from the GE. I have one unit that, with yellow berets, can do double duty as a GE or GEP combat group.
Order of Battle
A Special Group (Grupo Especiais or GE) was a combat group sized formation. It lacked the supporting arms of the regular army units. Although more likely to be involved in combat than the conscript Caçadores, so there is some justification for making them higher quality.
Special Group (Grupo Especiais or GE)
- 1 x Special Group Command Team (+1)
- 3 x Sections
- 1 x Battle Rifle Team
- 1 x Battle Rifle + LMG Team
- Morale: Regular
- Command and Control: OK
The Special Paratrooper Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) were an Intervention unit (unidade de intervenção) with a order of battle that facilitated insertion by helicopter. They were recruited from the best of the GE so warrant being a higher quality.
Special Paratrooper Group (Grupo Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP)
- 1 x Command Team (+2)
- 3 x Battle Rifle + LMG Teams
- 0 or 4 Alouette III Helicopters, i.e. one per team
- Morale: Veteran
- Command and Control: Good
In the future I might revisit whether my GE/GEP should have supporting arms – light mortars, medium machine guns, whatever. The GE, and especially the GEP, were combat units and my observation is that units accustomed to combat invariably acquired as many supporting arms as they could.
I needed the beret with the appropriate weapon, usually the G3 rifle. The basis are the specialist figures from Peter Pig Range 17 AK47 Republic:
- 37. R G3/SLR beret
- 30. Regular officers (beret)
Because the GE were paramilitary I figured they would probably be less well equipped than the regulars. So I gave them a madsen as the squad support weapon rather than the more normal MG42-59. I used Bren gunners because the Portuguese used a Madsen, which was a predecessor of the Bren and looked quite similar. I used WW2 British paratroopers from Peter Pig. Two of the poses in the pack have a helmet and one a beret. I used the beret guys as is, and for one figure replaced the helmeted head with beret head.
- 54.Brit para Bren
That meant I needed Heads:
- 18. Beret Heads. Convert to Brit commandoes/AK 47 etc
Although the GE and GEP often used the normal camo uniform and cap in the field, their offical uniform is so distinctive I chose to have my GE combat group dressed in black with a beret. I found black quite a hard colour to paint as it nights highlighting, but not so much that the figures starts to look grey.
Different GE used different beret colours. However, the most common be colour was yellow and yellow was also the colour adopted by the GEP.
There is only one white guy in this unit. The commander figure on the Command Team stand. He is accompanied by a radio operator (a normal rifleman with with blob of green stuff on his back), medic and runner.
My current thinking is the poor quality combat groups will only have once command stand. But as the GEP are elite I’ve given them a Commander, presenting the 2nd-in-command of the unit.
The GE has three sections of two fire teams, one a pure G3 team and the other a mixed G3 and Madsen team. When helibourne the GEP would only have the three Battle Rifle + LMG Teams.
You can see the Madsen gunner in the middle of the fire team in the front of the photo of Section 1. He is a WW2 British Paratooper with Bren gun, painted as a GE.
The Madsen operators of Section 2 is the kneeling figure at the front right of the photo. Again he is a WW2 British Paratrooper but he has received a beret head in place of the original para helmet.
Section 3 has the beret variant Bren gunner for the Madsen operator. The figure second from right.
I thought the GEP would benefit from a Bazooka Team. However, as the GE and GEP were paramilitary I have assumed they were more likely to use captured insurgent kit, in this case a RPG, than regulation kit.
Scout or Sentry
Lastly a two man scout or sentry team.