Spanish Armed Forces

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Spanish Armed Forces
Fuerzas Armadas Españolas
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Spanish Armed Forces logo.svg
Spanish Armed Forces Recruitment Logo
Service branches

Emblem of the Spanish Army.svg Spanish Army
Emblem of the Spanish Navy.svg Spanish Navy
Emblem of the Spanish Air Force.svg Spanish Air Force
Coat of Arms of the UME.svg Military Emergencies Unit

Emblem of the Spanish Royal Guard.svg Spanish Royal Guard
Headquarters Madrid, Spain
Supreme Commander Captain general
H. M. Felipe VI
Minister of Defence María Dolores de Cospedal[1]
Chief of the Defence Staff General of the army
Fernando Alejandre Martínez[2]
Military age 18
Active personnel 131,911 military[3] and 92,692 Civil Guards
Reserve personnel 16,200
Budget Increase € 6.971 billion[4] (2016)
Percent of GDP ~0.62% (2016)
Domestic suppliers Airbus Group, Santa Bárbara, Navantia, Indra, Gamesa, Abengoa
Foreign suppliers  United States
Annual imports € 2.415 billion [5] (2010)
Annual exports € 4.174 billion [5] (2010)
Related articles
History Military history of Spain

The Spanish Armed Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Españolas, FFAA) are the military forces of the Kingdom of Spain. The Spanish Armed Forces are a modern military force charged with defending the Kingdom's integrity and sovereignty. They consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The King is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, with the title Capitán General de las Fuerzas Armadas (Captain General of the Armed Forces). The current Chief of the Defence Staff is General Fernando Alejandre Martínez. The Spanish Armed Forces are active members of NATO, the Eurocorps, the European Union Battlegroups, and also provide peace keeping troops to the United Nations.


During the 15th and 16th century, Spain evolved into Europe's foremost power with the voyages of Christopher Columbus leading to Spain acquiring vast lands in the Americas. During the reign of Charles V and Philip II, Spain reached the peak of its power with the Spanish Empire spanning 19.4 million square km of the earth's surface, a total of 13%. By the mid 17th century this power had been weakened by the Thirty Years War along with financial problems, and the lack of reforms.

During the 18th century the new Bourbon dynasty revived Spain's economic and military power through a series of important reforms in the armed forces and the economy, notably those of Charles III of Spain. Thanks to these reforms, Spain performed well in the French Revolutionary Wars, the war of Jenkins' Ear, the war of Austrian Succession and several other engagements.

The occupation of a great part of Spain by the French during the Napoleonic Wars resulted in the so-called war of Spanish independence, which was characterised by use on a large scale of guerrilla troops, made necessary by the war's devastating effect on the Spanish economy. Following the war, the Spanish military was in poor condition and political instability resulted in the loss of most of Spain's former colonies, except Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. These too would be lost later in the Spanish–American War.


The Spanish armed forces are a professional force with a strength in 2017 of 131,900 active personnel and 16,200 reserve personnel. The country also has the 80,000 strong Civil Guard which comes under the control of the Ministry of Defence in times of a national emergency. The Spanish defence budget is 5.71 billion euros (7.2 billion USD) a 1% increase for 2015. The increase comes because of security concerns in the country.[6]


Main article: Spanish Army

The Spanish army consists of 15 active brigades and 6 military regions. Modern infantry have diverse capabilities and this is reflected in the varied roles assigned to them. There are four operational roles that infantry battalions can fulfil: air assault, armoured infantry, mechanised infantry, and light role infantry. The Spanish army has the latest technology at its disposal to preserve the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Spain.[7]

Spanish Navy[edit]

Main article: Spanish Navy

Under the command of the Spanish Chief of Naval Staff, stationed in Madrid, are four area commands:

The current flagship of the Spanish Navy is the amphibious assault ship Juan Carlos 1 which is also used as an aircraft carrier. In addition, the fleet consists of: 2 amphibious transport docks, 11 frigates, 3 submarines, 6 mine countermeasure vessels, 23 patrol vessels and a number of auxiliary ships. The total displacement of the Spanish Navy is approximately 220,000 tonnes. As of 2012, the Armada has a strength of 20,800 personnel.[8]

Infanteria de Marina[edit]

Main article: Infanteria de Marina

The Infanteria de Marina are the marine infantry of the Spanish Navy, the oldest in the world. It has a strength of 5,000 troops divided into base defense forces and landing forces. One of the three base defense battalions is stationed with each of the Navy headquarters. "Groups" (midway between battalions and regiments) are stationed in Madrid and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Tercio (fleet — regiment equivalent) is available for immediate embarkation and based out of San Fernando. Its principal weapons include light tanks, armored personnel vehicles, self-propelled artillery, and TOW and Dragon antitank missiles.

Spanish Air Force[edit]

Main article: Spanish Air Force

Spain currently has 10 fighter squadrons, each with 18-24 airplanes. The air force also has 15 operational air bases around the country. The air force operates a wide-ranging fleet of aircraft, from fighters to transport aircraft and passenger transports to helicopters. It maintains some 450 aircraft in total, of which around 130 are fighter aircraft, including a number of Eurofighter Typhoons. The Spanish Air Force is replacing older aircraft in the inventory with newer ones including the recently introduced Eurofighter Typhoon and the Airbus A400M Atlas airlifter. Both are manufactured with Spanish participation; EADS CASA makes the Eurofighter's right wing and leading edge slats,and participates in the testing and assembly of the airlifter.[9] Its aerobatic display team is the Patrulla Aguila, which flies the CASA C-101 Aviojet.Its helicopter display team, Patrulla Aspa, flies the Eurocopter EC-120 Colibrí. In July 2014 the Spanish Air Force joined the European Air Transport Command, headquartered at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands.[10]

Spanish Royal Guard[edit]

Main article: Spanish Royal Guard

The Royal Guard (Guardia Real) is an independent unit of the Spanish Armed Forces whose primary task is the military protection of the King of Spain and the Spanish Royal Family. It also protects visiting Heads of State.

The Royal Guard's history dates back to medieval times, the Corps of Gentlemen of the Chamber, the "Monteros de Espinosa", dating to 1006.

It currently has a strength of 1,900 troops, constituting a fully functional combat unit drawn from the ranks of all three branches of the Spanish Armed Forces: among others, a Royal Marines company, a Paratroop company and an infantry company. Some units have served recently in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Spanish Military Emergencies Unit[edit]

The Military Emergencies Unit (Spanish: Unidad Militar de Emergencias, is the most recently instituted branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, resulting from a decision of the Council of Ministers of Spain in 2005.

In addition to headquarters staff (Unidad de Cuartel General, there are five emergency intervention battalions (Batallon de Intervención en Emergencias, BIEM), a support regiment (Regimiento de Apoyo a Emergencias) and an aerial group (Agrupación de Medios Aéreos).

It is responsible for providing disaster relief principally throughout Spain but also if necessary abroad. The activities including handling natural hazards such as floods and earthquakes, forest fires, chemical and nuclear accidents, and other emergy situations recognized as such by the Prime Minister of Spain.

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