Ministry of Defence (Spain)

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Ministry of Defence
Ministerio de Defensa
Logotipo del Ministerio de Defensa.svg
Ministerio de Defensa de España (Madrid) 02.jpg
Main headquarters
Agency overview
FormedJuly 11, 1705; 315 years ago (1705-07-11) (as Secretary of the Universal Dispatch of War and Treasury)
July 4, 1977 (as Ministry of Defence)
JurisdictionGovernment of Spain
HeadquartersPaseo de la Castellana, 109
28071 Madrid
40°27′21″N 3°41′27″W / 40.45587°N 3.69077°W / 40.45587; -3.69077Coordinates: 40°27′21″N 3°41′27″W / 40.45587°N 3.69077°W / 40.45587; -3.69077
Annual budget 9.64 billions (2018)[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives

The Ministry of Defence (MINISDEF) is the department of the Government of Spain responsible for planning, developing and carrying out the general guidelines of the Government about the defence policy and the managing of the military administration. It is the administrative and executive body of the Spanish Armed Forces.[2]

According to the Constitution of 1978, the Monarch is the Commander in Chief of the Spanish military. He can declare war or conclude peace with authorization of the Cortes Generales, provided this act is countersigned by the Prime Minister.[3]

The Ministry of Defense is headed by the Minister of Defence, a Cabinet member who depends directly from the Prime Minister. Beneath the Ministry of Defense are five subordinate principal departments: the Armed Forces headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff (JEMAD) which is divided in three military branches led by the Chief of Staff of the Army (JEME), the Chief of Staff of the Navy (AJEMA) and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (JEMA); the Secretariat of State for Defence (headed by the Secretary of State, SEDEF); the Undersecretariat of Defence headed by the Ministry's Under-Secretary (SUBDEF) and the General Secretariat for Defence Policy head by the Secretary-General (SEGENPOL). In addition, the National Intelligence Center (CNI) is subordinated to the Ministry of Defence.

The current holder of the Ministry is Margarita Robles.


Primitive military administration[edit]

Since the first origins of Spain, the monarchy has been the main form of government. That is the main reason why the first government departments appeared in the 18th century because for centuries, the monarch controlled all the power.

At the beginning, the King controlled the military through its Council of State which was divided in different sections dedicated to advise the King in the different areas of government.

Single and double secretariat[edit]

On July 11, 1705, King Philip V created a Secretariat for war and treasury matters, called Secretariat of the Dispatch of War and Treasury mainly because of the War of Succession.[4] Once the war was over, in 1714 the Administration was reformed and two secretariats appeared: one dedicated to the Army called Secretariat of the Dispatch of War and another to the Navy called the Secretariat of the Dispatch of the Navy and Indies.

The Secretariat of the Dispatch of the Navy and Indies was suppressed in 1715 and the competences over the Navy were transferred to the Secretariat of War. In 1721 the Secretariat of the Dispatch of the Navy was re-created assuming the competences on the naval forces but on 30 January 1776, the Secretariat of the Dispatch of the Indies was recovered assuming the control of the overseas's naval forces. Since then, the Secretariat of the Navy had competences only on the naval forces of the Peninsular Spain, the Canaries and the Balearics because the Secretariat of the Dispatch of the Indies assumed the responsibilities on the naval forces in the rest of the Empire. It wasn't until 1790 that this Secretariat also assumed the competences on the Overseas Navy when the Indies Secretariat was suppressed.[5] The same did the Secretariat of War with the competencies on the land forces in the Indies.


This organization was maintained through decades and at the beginning of the 19th century, the terms Secretariat and Ministry were used as synonymous, until 1851 when the Ministry of War and Ministry of the Navy were officially renamed.

Since the Constitution of 1812, which creates the Secretary of State and of the Dispatch of the Overseas Government, until the creation of the Ministry of Overseas in 1863, there were constant hesitations in the allocation of powers over those domains and which advisory body to go in case of doubt in the resolution of the issues. In 1836 it is the Ministry of the Navy who assumes these functions; A few years later, they move to the Ministry of the Interior. In 1851 an Overseas Council and an Overseas Directorate were created under the Office of the Prime Minister.[6]

Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, first Defence Minister of the democratic period.

The hesitations continue regarding the advisory body (the Overseas Council alternates with the Royal Council and the Advisory Board) the vacillations also occur in terms of the dependence of the Directorate that passes to the Ministry of State in 1854, it is added to the Development in 1856, to return to State a few months later and depends on the Ministry of War from 1858 until the creation of the Overseas Ministry by Royal Decree of 20 May 1863. It subsists until the loss of those imperial provinces and is definitively suppressed by Royal Decree of 15 April 1899.[6]

First attempt and final unification[edit]

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Air Force started to make its firsts steps and at the very start they were just the air branch of the Army and later it was also created a Naval Air Force subordinated to the Navy.

During the Civil War, the armed forces split into two sides: the republican and the nationalist. In the republican side, there were two main ministries: the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Navy and Aire Force; in the national side, there were only one unified ministry, the Ministry of National Defence that had all the competences over the three branches. After the Civil War, the francoist regime divided again the former Ministry of National Defence intro three ministries: Ministry of the Army, Ministry of the Navy and the new Ministry of the Air Force (created in 1939).

This three military departments disappeared in 1977 when they merged into the current Ministry of Defence. This new Ministry of Defence established its headquarters in a building belonged to the Ministry of Culture and the three headquarters of the military ministries were destined to hold the main headquearters of each military branch. The position of Under Secretary of Defence was created in 1977.[7] The new military organization was established in 1984 with the JEMAD as the Chief Operative of the Armed Forces and the Prime Minister (through the Defence Minister) as de facto leader of the Armed Forces. The Monarch remained as the symbolic commander-in-chief and the position of Secretary of State for Defence was created too.[8]

In 2020, the National Intelligence Center returned to the department's structure with Paz Esteban López as its first female director.


Margarita Robles, current Minister of Defence

The Department is organized as follows:[2]

  • The Armed Forces.
  • The Secretariat of State for Defence.
    • The Directorate-General for Armament and Materiel.
    • The Directorate-General for Economic Affairs.
    • The Directorate-General for Infraestructure.
    • The Center of Systems and Technologies of the Information and Communications.
  • The Undersecretariat of Defence.
    • The Technical General Secretariat.
    • The Directorate-General for Personnel.
    • The Directorate-General for Military Recruitment and Teaching.
    • The Deputy Directorate-General for the Internal Regime.
    • The Deputy Directorate-General for Economic and Payroll Services.
    • The Legal Department of the Defence.
    • The Office of the Comptroller General of the Defence.
    • The Inspectorate-General for Defence Health.
    • The Military Prison of Alcalá de Henares.
  • The General Secretariat for Defence Policy.
    • The Directorate-General for Defence Policy.
    • The Division for Security and Defense Studies and Coordination.
  • The Directorate for Institutional Communication of Defense.

The Civil Guard depends on the Ministry of Defence in the terms stipulated by laws.

The Ministry of Defence's consultant and advisory bodies are:

  • The Superior Council of the Army.
  • The Superior Council of the Navy.
  • The Superior Council of the Air Force.
  • The Superior Boards of the Common Corps of the Armed Forces.


Chain of Command[edit]

The Chain of Command of the military is regulated in the National Defence Organic Act of 2005.[9]

Like the Constitution, the law recognizes the Monarch as the supreme commander of the Armed Forces. The Government is the body in charge of establishing the defense policy as well as control of the military administration. The Prime Minister is the civilian authority in command of the Armed Forces. The Minister of Defence, under the authority of the Prime Minister, control the Armed Forces and establish the military policy. The Chief of the Defence Staff (JEMAD) is the fourth military authority, in charge over the operative command of the Armed Forces. After the Chief of the Defence Staff are the Chief of Staff of the different branches.

The Parliament is the responsible for authorising the signing of military treaties, approving the defence laws and military budgets and authorize the Sovereign to declare war and to make peace. In particular, the Congress is responsible for authorising the use of the Armed Forces abroad in missions that are not of national interest, if they are of national interest, the Government can use them without authorization but communicating it to the Congress.

  1. The King.
  2. The Prime Minister.
  3. The Minister of Defence.
  4. The Chief of the Defence Staff.
  5. The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Navy and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
  6. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Navy and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

List of Ministers of Defence of Spain[edit]


  1. ^ Government of Spain, Ministry of the Treasury (2018). "General Budget of the State" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b "Royal Decree 1399/2018, of November 23, by which the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Defense is developed". Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  3. ^ "Royal Decree 415/2016, 3 November, for restructuring the ministerial departments" (PDF). 2016.
  4. ^ "Corporate Body - Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Guerra y Hacienda (España)". PARES (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  5. ^ "Corporate Body - Secretaría de Estado y del Despacho de Marina (España)". PARES (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  6. ^ a b "Corporate Body - Ministerio de Ultramar (España)". PARES. Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  7. ^ "Royal Decree 2723/1977, of November 2, by which the Ministry of Defense is structured organically and functionally". Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  8. ^ "Royal Decree 135/1984, of January 25, by which the Ministry of Defense is restructured". Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  9. ^ "Organic Law 5/2005, of November 17, of the National Defence". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-09-22.

External links[edit]