The Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO), a police tactical unit of the Spanish National Police Corps, handles counterterrorism operations, VIP protection, and supports police with other operations. The unit, which has been combating terrorism and organized crime since its inception in 1977, is a significant part of the European Police ATLAS Network.
- GEO, organized similarly to other European tactical units, manages terrorist attacks, hijackings, maritime threats, hostage rescue situations, and provides protection to foreign dignitaries and Spanish embassies in high-risk countries.
- GEO was formed in 1977 to combat internal terrorism and organized crime in Spain, initially training with the German GSG 9. Over its history, it has dismantled multiple organized crime groups, arrested armed terrorists, and rescued hundreds of hostages.
- The unit has 110 members divided into Operative and Support sections. Operative teams are further split into subgroups with varied specialties including snipers, explosives experts, and combat divers.
- GEO candidates must have served in the Spanish National Police Corps for at least two years and specialize in a certain role. Only 3% of candidates are accepted, and those who pass go through a rigorous training course in Guadalajara.
- GEO’s equipment is varied, high-quality, and often borrowed from the Spanish Army. It includes a range of rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, pistols, shotguns, and other equipment like tasers, gas masks, night vision goggles, and vehicles.
- GEO has played crucial roles in several major operations, including responding to the 2004 Madrid Train Bombings and the rescue of Dr Iglesias Puga, demonstrating their importance in Spanish counterterrorism.