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Spanish Army (Ejercito de Tierra)

The army is the land branch of the armed forces of Spain, one of the oldest armies in activity in the world, being in service since the 15th century. It has its headquarters at the Buenavista Palace in Madrid, located in the Central Plaza de Cibeles, opposite the Bank of Spain. Land Army, Spain had a maximum of 130,000 troops in 2013, the legal minimum established by law of the military career of 2007, having to trim for this 6,000 soldiers, equivalent to almost a brigade and a half; one 7% less than the previous number (86,648). These cuts are carried out by cutting squares of access to troop and seamen. The 130,000 troops correspond to 80,000 in the Navy and 50,000 in the Air Force.

The Spanish Army (Ejercito de Tierra) has existed continuously since the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The oldest and largest of the three services, its mission was the defense of peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands (Spanish, Islas Baleares), the Canary Islands (Spanish, Canarias), Melilla, Ceuta, and the smaller islands and rocks off the northern coast of Africa.

Land forces must protect the national territory and maintain a forward presence in extra-peninsular Spanish territories. In addition, though not simultaneously, the 2003 Strategic Defense Review directed that they must have the capability to:

  • Participate in the full spectrum of crisis response missions for an indefinite period of time, in two theatres distant from each other and from national territory, rapidly deploying one Brigade in each of them, with the necessary combat and logistics support; or two Brigades and the required combat and logistics support in one single theatre with a Division Headquarters capable of commanding a multinational force.
  • Participate in the full spectrum of collective defence and crisis response missions for a continuous period not longer than six months, rapidly deploying an Army Corps level Headquarters capable of activating a multinational Land Command Component, and a Division with the required combat and logistics support in a theater far removed from national territory.
Land Force structure is designed to articulate the elements of operational formations as required by the possible scenarios. For this purpose the Army is structured around its Operational Capabilities. Each capability is built on concepts and doctrine, generated by combining personnel, training, equipment, logistics and structure, and aimed at a strategic, operational or tactical effect. Permanently integrated within the corresponding organic units, these capabilities will be articulated in Operational Organisations that meet the basic criterion of modularity.

The two aspects of Land Maneuver are Surface Manoeuvre and Airmobile Manoeuvre, the latter of which should take place in full cooperation and coordination with the former. The land platforms (tanks and combat vehicles) and airmobile platforms (helicopters) involved in Land Manoeuvre require the most modern and effective firepower in order to strike from the greatest distance as quickly as possible, with the necessary power and precision to establish superiority over the adversary; thereby achieving decisive results with the least amount of loss, harm or collateral damage.

Land Manoeuvre is built around the balanced use of armoured, mechanised, light, medium and special forces. Future Land Forces will also be based on the most appropriate balance between these types of forces, determined by their increased projection capability, according to the demands placed on the Army. This involves developing the “speed effect”, consisting of rapid projection of a force capable of gaining a time advantage over the adversary, thus obtaining and maintaining the initiative. More powerful forces capable of resolving the conflict must follow with a “decisive effect” if the crisis progresses unfavourably, or if it has high intensity from the very beginning. Therefore, Surface Manoeuvre capability must be acquired in the short or mid-term with next generation tanks and combat vehicles, through the Leopard tank and Pizarro infantry combat vehicle programmes. In the long term, current armored personnel carriers (BMR) should be substituted for similar next generation ones designed for strategic transport.

Airmobile Manoeuvre provide capabilities essential for Land Force actions in most scenarios. An airmobile brigade would be a significant element in the new Land Forces due to its decisive contribution to force projection. Along with the organic solution, in the short term Airmobile Manoeuvre capability should be increased by purchasing a new generation of attack helicopters equipped with the adequate technological advances, and replacement of the transport helicopter fleet with technologically advanced platforms through the NH-90 helicopter program. Events have demonstrated the need for Land Forces to maintain an advanced presence equipped with the necessary capabilities, and a command organisation capable of integrating reinforcements.

Given that clashes occur at greater distances, technological advances must be incorporated into material and equipment in order to provide the maximum range, all-weather use and, above all else, precision, to minimize collateral damage. Short-term plans to increase Fire Support capability materialised by acquiring a next-generation artillery howitzer, under the 155/52 REMA howitzer programme. Long-term objectives should include multiple launch rocket systems and new means of rapid and exact target acquisition. Spain’s geographical characteristics and extra-continental extension necessitate the maintenance of coastal defence capabilities. These means should include high mobility, anti-ship missile potential, all weather technology, and ability to coordinate with the Navy.

Anti-air units must be able to respond to classical threats from hostile aviation and to a growing number of new aerial systems such as ballistic missiles, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. Anti-air Defence should be empowered by accelerating present equipment programmes for anti-aircraft artillery.

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Page last modified: 16-01-2013 19:00:45 ZULU