Spanish Army

The Spanish Army (Spanish: Ejército de Tierra; lit. "Army of the Land/Ground") is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies — dating back to the late 15th century.

Spanish Army
Ejército de Tierra
Emblem of the Spanish Army.svg
Seal of the Spanish Army
Founded15th century
Country Spain
BranchArmy
RoleLand force
Size75,822 personnel (2018)[1]
Part ofSpanish Ministry of Defense
Garrison/HQBuenavista Palace, Madrid
Mascot(s)Crowned rampant eagle with Saint James cross
Commanders
Chief of Staff of the ArmyArmy General
Francisco Javier Varela Salas[2]
Commander in ChiefKing Felipe VI
Aircraft flown
Attack helicopterTiger
ReconnaissanceMBB Bo 105
TrainerColibrí
EC135
TransportChinook
Cougar
NH90

HistoryEdit

The Spanish Army has existed continuously since the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (late 15th century). The oldest and largest of the three services, its mission was the defense of Peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Melilla, Ceuta and the Spanish islands and rocks off the northern coast of Africa. However, the Spanish Army could be considered even older if the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo is taken into account. In the sixth century, under Reccared I, the unification of the Kingdom was achieved over the entire Iberian Peninsula. This finished the work begun by his father Liuvigild, who commanded the Spanish Visigoth Army responsible for defending the borders of the kingdom against enemies, especially the Franks.

Under the HabsburgsEdit

 
Spanish attack on a Flemish village

During the 16th century, Habsburg Spain saw steady growth in its military power. The Italian Wars (1494–1559) resulted in an ultimate Spanish victory and hegemony in northern Italy by expelling the French. During the war, the Spanish Army transformed its organization and tactics, evolving from a primarily pike and halberd wielding force into the first pike and shot formation of arquebusiers and pikemen. During the 16th century, this formation evolved into the tercio infantry formation.

Backed by the financial resources drawn from the Americas,[3] Spain fought wars against its enemies, such as the long-running Dutch Revolt (1568–1609), defending Christian Europe from Ottoman raids and invasions, supporting the Catholic cause in the French civil wars and fighting England during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The Spanish Army grew in size from around 20,000 troops in the 1470s to around 300,000 troops by the 1630s during the Thirty Years' War that tore Europe apart, requiring the recruitment of soldiers from across Europe.[4] With such numbers involved, Spain had trouble funding the war effort on so many fronts. The non-payment of troops led to many mutinies and events such as the Sack of Antwerp (1576), in which 17,000 people died.[5]

The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) drew in Spain alongside most other European states. Spain entered the conflict with a strong position, but the ongoing fighting gradually eroded her advantages; first Dutch, then Swedish innovations had made the tercio more vulnerable, having less flexibility and firepower than its more modern equivalents.[6] Nevertheless, Spanish armies continued to win major battles and sieges throughout this period across large swathes of Europe. French entry into the war in 1635 put additional pressure on Spain, with the French victory at the Battle of Rocroi in 1643 being a major boost for the French. By the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Spain was forced to accept the independence of the Dutch Republic.

18th centuryEdit

Spain remained an important naval and military power, depending on critical sea lanes stretching from Spain through the Caribbean and South America, and westwards towards Manila and the Far East.

The Army was reorganized on the French model and in 1704 the old Tercios were transformed into Regiments. The first modern military school (the Artillery School) was created in Segovia in 1764. Finally, in 1768 King Charles III sanctioned the "Royal Ordinances for the Regime, Discipline, Subordination, and Service in His Armies", which were in force until 1978.[7]

Napoleonic era and RestorationEdit

In the late 18th century, Bourbon-ruled Spain had an alliance with Bourbon-ruled France and therefore did not have to fear a land war. Its only serious enemy was Britain, which had a powerful Royal Navy; Spain, therefore, concentrated its resources on its Navy. When the French Revolution overthrew the Bourbons, a land war with France became a danger which the king tried to avoid.

In Spanish Army the officer corps was selected primarily on the basis of royal patronage, rather than merit. About a third of the junior officers had been promoted from the ranks, and they did have talent, but they had few opportunities for promotion or leadership. The rank-and-file were poorly trained peasants. Elite units included foreign regiments of Irishmen, Italians, Swiss, and Walloons, in addition to elite artillery and engineering units. In combat, small units fought well, but their old-fashioned tactics were hard of use against the French Grande Armée, despite repeated desperate efforts at last-minute reform.[8]

During the war, there was one spanish victory at the Battle of Bailén within the first two months of the war and with little time to prepare against the veteran French troops, which however not followed in its advantage - the defeated French evacuated the peninsula all the way to the Ebro valley near the Pyrenees - suffering many humiliating defeats against the regular Spanish Army after such auspicious start, proved to be the first sound defeat to the hitherto seemly unbeatable Imperial French Army, and demonstrating that if given more or less equal forces than the usual mass superiority of the French as it happened when the Spanish forced the defeat anf the surrender of a whole division of the Imperial French Army, this inspired many other nations formerly defeated by France, motivating first Austria and showed the force of nationwide resistance to Napoleon.[clarify] Conditions however steadily worsened for the Frenchs although Napoleon brought more effective troops into the peninsula, as the Guerrila (the insurgents) increasingly took control of Spain's battle against Napoleon in guerrilla warfare and created a more or less unified underground national resistance, for which traditional armies of the time were not organized or prepared for yet. It was not the Spanish Army that defeated Napoleon, but the insurgent peasants[9] or rebels in insurgency against the government of his brother, Joseph I, implanted by Napoleon as a new monarch. By 1812, the army controlled only scattered enclaves, and could only harass the French with occasional raids.[10] It was the Spanish resistance that defeated Napoleon.

Nineteenth-century warsEdit

Spain entered the 19th century with a reduction of territory and recognition of power in Europe following the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and faced renewed problems in the international arena. The Spanish military was devastated as a consequence of its former alliance with France, costing it its main fleets and many war damages in its military arsenals and weapons factories, much of which was inflicted by the British or Portuguese allies during the Peninsular campaign to prevent the French or Spanish to resume their services after the war. In the immediate aftermath of the war, while its administration was facing local rebellions against a renewed absolutist monarchy, the overseas colonies inspired by France and the United States of America sought to wrestle control from the debilitated European government that demanded more taxes to rebuild itself after the Napoleonic period disasters. Many continental armies were sent to Central America and South America which proved to be futile and too late. The former Empire lost an important artery of its power and with it the wealth in revenues which it had become dependent on over the centuries. In response, attempts were made to reform the military into a modern and standing national force, with conscription being adopted.

Spain faced a series of internal dynastic conflicts, collectively known as the Carlist Wars, requiring Spain to undergo a series of reforms directed at its military, administrative, and social structures. As consequence of these internal conflicts, and the weakness of the central structures of government under the monarchy, many generals with political ambitions would interrupt public life in multiple Coup d'états, known as Pronunciamientos, for the rest of the century until the Second Restoration of the Bourbons in Spain under Alfonso XII. These series of military interruptions in civil government eventually shaped a permissive cultural and political mentality, with a tacit expectation of "special emergency interventions" from the military that would pervade well into the first third of the 20th century. In the year 1920 the Spanish army was composed of about 500,000 men. ultimately ending up in the Spanish Civil War.

Second Republic (1931–36)Edit

During the Second Spanish Republic, the Spanish government enlisted over ten million men to the army.

Civil War (1936–39)Edit

Some US citizens came to Spain to fight in their civil war for two main reasons. The first being to promote their ideals and the other being to escape the trials of living in America during the great depression.

The Americans totaled 2,800 and suffered heavy casualties: 900 killed and 1,500 wounded.

The Spanish Army under the Francoist Regime (1939–1975)Edit

This period can be divided in four phases:[11]

  • 1939–1945: Second World War
  • 1945–1954: International Isolation (lack of means)
  • 1954–1961: Agreement with the United States (a certain improvement in means and capabilities)
  • 1961–1975: Development plans (economic basis for the modernisations that follows in the 1970s and 1980s).

Second World WarEdit

 
Spanish soldiers of the Blue Division during World War II, c. 1941

At the end of the Civil War, the Spanish (Francoist) Army counted with 1,020,500 men, in 60 Divisions.[12] During the first year of peace, Franco dramatically reduced the size of the Spanish Army to 250,000 in early 1940, with most soldiers two-year conscripts.[13] A few weeks after the end of the war, the eight traditional Military Regions (Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Burgos, Valladolid, and the VIII Military Region at La Coruña) were reestablished. In 1944 the IX Military Region, with its headquarters in Granada, was created.[12] The Air Force became an independent service, under its own Ministry of the Air Force.

Concerns about the international situation, Spain's possible entry into the Second World War, and threats of invasion led Franco to undo some of these reductions. In November 1942, with the Allied landings in North Africa and the German occupation of Vichy France bringing hostilities closer than ever to Spain's border, Franco ordered a partial mobilization, bringing the army to over 750,000 men.[13] The Air Force and Navy also grew in numbers and in budgets, to 35,000 airmen and 25,000 sailors by 1945, although for fiscal reasons Franco had to restrain attempts by both services to undertake dramatic expansions.[13]

During the Second World War, the Army in metropolitan Spain had eight Army Corps, with two or three Infantry Divisions each.[14] Additionally, the Army of Africa had two Army Corps in Northern Africa, and there were the Canary Islands General Command and the Balearic Islands General Command, one Cavalry Division, plus the Artillery's General Reserve. In 1940 a Reserve Group, with three Divisions, was created.[12]

The Blue DivisionEdit

Although Spanish caudillo Francisco Franco was neutral and did not bring Spain into World War II on the side of Nazi Germany, he permitted volunteers to join the German Army (Wehrmacht) on the condition they would only fight against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, and not against the Western Allies or any Western European occupied populations. In this manner, he could keep Spain at peace with the Western Allies, while repaying German support during the Spanish Civil War and providing an outlet for the strong anti-Communist sentiments of many Spanish nationalists. Officially designated as División Española de Voluntarios by the Spanish Army and as 250 Infanterie-Division in the German Army,The Blue Division was the only component of the German Army to be awarded a medal of their own, commissioned by Hitler in January 1944 after the Division had demonstrated its effectiveness in impeding the advance of the Red Army, on the Volkhov front (October 1941 – August 1942) and in the siege of Leningrad (August 1942 – October 1943), mainly at the battle of Krasny Bor.[15]

International IsolationEdit

At the end of the Second World War, the Spanish Army counted 22,000 officers, 3,000 NCO and almost 300,000 soldiers. The equipment dated from the Civil War, with some systems produced in Germany during the World War. Doctrine and Training were obsolete, as they had not incorporated the teachings of the Second World War; Scianna elaborates on the weaknesses of equipment, political role, and worldview.[16] This situation lasted until the agreements with the United States in September 1953.[11]

Agreement with the United States (Barroso Reform, 1957)Edit

After the signature of the military agreement with the United States in 1953, the assistance received from Washington allowed Spain to procure more modern equipment and to improve the country's defence capabilities. More than 200 Spanish officers and NCOs received specialised training in the United States each year. With the Barroso Reform (1957), the Spanish Army abandoned the organisation inherited from the Civil War to adopt the United States' pentomic structure. General Instruction 158/107 of 1958 initially affected three experimental divisions (DIE 11, 21, 31 at Madrid, Algeciras, and Valencia respectively).[17] Instruction 160/115 of January 15, 1960 extended these changes to another five divisions in transformation (DIT, at Gerona, Málaga, Oviedo, Vigo, Vitoria, respectively) and the four mountain divisions (divisións de infantería de montaña, DIM).[18] Most of the heavy divisions had five manoeuvre agrupaciones, while the Mountain Divisions "Urgel" 42, 51, 52, and "Navarra" 62 had six batallón de cazadores de montaña, an independent company, and what appears to be a battalion of motorised infantry.[19]

All in all, after the Barroso Reform, the Spanish Army had eight Pentomic infantry divisions, four mountain divisions, the 'Brunete' Armoured Division, the "Jarama" Cavalry Division, with four armoured groups ("agrupaciones blindadas"), three independent Armoured Brigades at rather a reduced strength and three Field Artillery Brigades ("Brigada de artillería de campaña").[11]

Years of Economic Development (1965)Edit

The 1965 Reforms were inspired by then-contemporary French organisation and doctrine. The Menéndez Tolosa reforms from 1965 divided the Army into two categories: the Immediate Intervention Forces (FII, Field Army) and the Defensa Operativa del Territorio (DOT, Operational Defence of Territory) forces.

The FII had the mission of defending the Pyrenean and the Gibraltar frontiers and of fulfilling Spain's security commitments abroad. It was to be "an army corps equipped and trained for conventional and limited nuclear warfare, ready to be deployed within or outside national borders."[20] It was made up of:

The DOT was to maintain security in the regional commands and of reinforce the Civil Guard) and the police against subversion and terrorism. It comprised nine independent Infantry Brigades (one in every one of the Military Regions of Spain), with two infantry battalions each; the Mountain Infantry Division No. 4 "Urgell"[23] and Mountain Infantry Division No. 6 "Navarra";[22] the Mountain Reserve of the Army High Command; the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla commands, with their respective DOT units including the Regulares (six groups later reduced to four) and the Spanish Legion (4 Tercios); and the Army General Reserve Command, composed of DOT units working as the reserve force of the Army, the equivalent to the United States Army Reserve.[11]

 
Troops of the Spanish Legion

During the last years of the Francoist regime, contemporary weapons were ordered for the Army. In 1973, the military education system was reformed in depth, in order to make its structure and objectives similar to those existing in the civilian universities. It was during this time that the Spanish Army fought in the campaigns in what is now Western Sahara against Arab forces in the area who agitated for the end of Spanish colonial rule.

The Spanish Army under King Juan Carlos I and beyondEdit

Initial years (1975–1989)Edit

Three main events characterise this period: creation of a single Ministry of Defence (1977) to replace the three existing military ministries (Army, Navy and Air Ministries), the failed coup d'état in February 1981 and the accession to NATO in 1982.

The Modernización del Ejército de Tierra (META) plan was carried out from 1982-1988 so that Spain could achieve full compliance with NATO standards.[24] Military regions in mainland Spain were reduced from nine to six; the Intervention Force (FII) and the Territorial Defence (DOT) were merged; the number of brigades was reduced from 24 to 15; and personnel numbers cut from 279,000 to 230,000.

After the end of the Cold War (1989–present)Edit

The end of the Cold War came with the reduction of the term of military service for conscripts until its complete abolition in 2001[25] and the increasing participation of Spanish forces in multinational peacekeeping operations abroad[26] are the main drivers for changes in the Spanish Army after 1989.

Three reorganisation plans have been implemented since. First the RETO plan (1990), then the NORTE plan (1994),[27] under which the now "Manoeuvre Force," located in the old Captaincy of Valencia, was reduced to an army corps equivalent of a complete heavy division and the equivalent of a light division with reduced support; and the Instruction for Organisation and Operation of the Army (IOFET) 2005.

TodayEdit

PersonnelEdit

 
Spanish soldiers of the Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan

In 2001, when compulsory military service was still in effect, the army was about 135,000 troops (50,000 officers and 86,000 soldiers). Following the suspension of conscription the Spanish Army became a fully professionalised volunteer force and by 2008 had a personnel strength of 75,000.[28] In case of a war or national emergency, an additional force of 80,000 Civil Guards comes under the Ministry of Defence command.

EquipmentEdit

WeaponsEdit

Combat vehiclesEdit

ArtilleryEdit

AircraftEdit

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Agusta-Bell 212 Italy Rotorcraft Utility 6
Boeing CH-47D Chinook USA Rotorcraft Transport 17 To be upgraded to CH-47F by Boeing in 2019.[29]
Eurocopter AS332B1 Super Puma France Rotorcraft Transport 1982 16
Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar France Rotorcraft Transport 1998 17
Eurocopter EC-135 Europe Rotorcraft Trainer/utility 2008 16
Eurocopter Tiger Europe Rotorcraft Attack 2007 20 4 on order
NHI NH90 Europe Rotorcraft Transport 2016 8 37 on order

Unmanned aerial vehiclesEdit

Formation and structureEdit

Commanders in Chief of the Spanish ArmyEdit

Army MinistersEdit

Source: es:Ministerio del Ejército

Chiefs of the Army StaffEdit

 
Command guidon of the Spanish Army
  • Lieutenant General José Vega Rodríguez (1976–1978)[30]
  • Lieutenant General Tomás de Liniers y Pidal (1978–1979)[30]
  • Lieutenant General José Gabeiras Montero (1979–1982)[30]
  • Lieutenant General Ramón de Ascanio y Togores (1982–1984)[30]
  • Lieutenant General José María Sáenz de Tejada y Fernández de Bobadilla (1984–1986)[30]
  • Lieutenant General Miguel Íñiguez del Moral (1986–1990)[30]
  • Lieutenant General Ramón Porgueres Hernández (1990–1994)[30]
  • Lieutenant General José Faura Martín (1994–1998)[30]
  • Lieutenant General Alfonso Pardo de Santayana y Coloma (1998–2003)[30]
  • Army General Luis Alejandre Sintes (2003–2004)[30]
  • Army General José Antonio García González (2004–2006)[30]
  • Army General Carlos Villar Turrau (2006–2008)[30]
  • Army General Fulgencio Coll Bucher (2008–2012)[30]
  • Army General Jaime Domínguez Buj (2012–2017)[31]
  • Army General Francisco Javier Varela Salas (2017–present)[2]

UniformsEdit

   
Digital woodland
Digital desert

Ranks and insigniaEdit

The military ranks of the Spanish army are as follows below. For a comparison with other NATO ranks see Ranks and Insignia of NATO. Ranks are wore on the cuff, sleeves and shoulders of all army uniforms, but differ by the type of the uniform being used.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
  Spain
(Edit)
                             
Capitán general[note 1] General de Ejército Teniente general General de división General de brigada Coronel Teniente coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez Caballero Alférez Cadete Alumno repetidor Alumno 2º Alumno 1º
  • 1 Retained by His Majesty the King of Spain as his constitutional role.
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
  Spain
(Edit)
                   
Suboficial mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento primero Sargento Cabo mayor Cabo primero Cabo Soldado de primera Soldado

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "España Hoy 2016-2016". lamoncloa.gob.es (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b New chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force. Archived 31 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine Ministry of Defence (Spain). Retrieved 31 March 2017
  3. ^ Elton, p. 181.
  4. ^ Anderson, p. 17.
  5. ^ Carlton, 2011: p. 42.
  6. ^ Meade, p. 180.
  7. ^ "Comparative Atlas of Defence in Latin America / 2008 Edition, p. 42 (PDF)" (PDF). resdal.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  8. ^ Charles J. Esdaile, The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War (1988)
  9. ^ Russell Crandall (2014). America's Dirty Wars: Irregular Warfare from 1776 to the War on Terror. Cambridge UP. p. 21. Archived from the original on 30 November 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  10. ^ Otto Pivka, Spanish Armies of the Napoleonic Wars (Osprey Men-at-Arms, 1975)
  11. ^ a b c d PUELL DE LA VILLA, Fernando (2010). "El devenir del Ejército de Tierra (1945-1975)". In Fernando Puell de la Vega y Sonia Alda Mejías (ed.). Los Ejércitos del franquismo. Madrid: IUGM-UNED. 2010. pp. 63–96.
  12. ^ a b c MUÑOZ BOLAÑOS, Roberto (2010). "La institución militar en la posguerra (1939-1945)". In Fernando Puell de la Vega y Sonia Alda Mejías (ed.). Los Ejércitos del franquismo. Madrid: IUGM-UNED. 2010. pp. 15–55.
  13. ^ a b c Bowen, Wayne H.; José E. Álvarez (2007). A Military History of Modern Spain. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-275-99357-3. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  14. ^ López 2017.
  15. ^ Luca de Tena, Torcuato (1976). Embajador en el infierno (Ambassador to Hell). Barcelona: Editorial Planeta. pp. 15–22. ISBN 84-320-2152-0.
  16. ^ Scianna 2019.
  17. ^ Lopéz 2017, p. 63, 64.
  18. ^ Lopéz 2017, p. 63, 64, 102.
  19. ^ Lopéz 2017, p. 65.
  20. ^ López 2017, p. 68.
  21. ^ Note another source says the brigade was created at Badajoz on 10 de julio de 1965, https://ejercito.defensa.gob.es/unidades/Cordoba/brimzx_guzmanelbueno/Historial/index.html
  22. ^ a b López 2017, p. 69.
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ YÁRNOZ, Carlos (10 February 1983). "El plan de modernización del Ejército de Tierra renovará completamente la estructura actual". elpais.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  25. ^ See an announcement by the Minister of Defence Archived 6 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ CERVERA ARTEAGA, Eva. "Retrospectiva de tres décadas en el Ejército de Tierra español". Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Estadística de Personal Militar de Complemento , Militar Profesional de Tropa y Marinería y Reservista Voluntario (PDF)" (PDF). mde.es. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 December 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  29. ^ Waldron, Greg (4 January 2019). "Boeing to upgrade Spain CH-47D fleet to -F standard". Flight Global. Singapore. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m La transformación de los ejércitos españoles (1975-2008). Madrid: UNED. 2009. p. 366.
  31. ^ "Real Decreto 1164/2012, de 27 de julio (PDF)" (PDF). boe.es. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  1. ^ The King only

BibliographyEdit

  • Instruction no. 59/2005, of 4 April 2005, from the chief of the army staff on army organisation and function regulations, published in B.O.D. NO. 80 of 26 April 2005
  • Lehardy, Diego, Spanish Army in a difficult phase of its transformation, RID magazine, July 1991.
  • Mogaburo López, Fernando (2017). Historia Orgánica De Las Grandes Unidades (1475-2018) (PDF). Madrid: Ministerio de Defensa - Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  • Scianna, Bastian Matteo (2019). "Stuck in the past? British views on the Spanish army's effectiveness and military culture, 1946–1983". War and Society. 38 (1): 41–56. Antiquated material and limited budgets were not the only reasons for the army’s low potential wartime capability after World War II. "..Spain continued to field around twenty divisions, whereas the defence industry and available national resources could only sustain six operational divisions. A regular Spanish infantry division could muster full strength with modern infantry weapons, while other ‘teeth’ units — like the artillery and engineers — were reduced to one-third of their ideal levels.. The supporting ‘tail’ was so underdeveloped that divisions were statically bound to their home depot and could only defend their military district after six months mobilisation.." [The paper] draws on British and German sources to demonstrate how Spanish military culture prevented an augmented effectiveness and organisational change.

External links and further readingEdit