Army History

The Spanish Army

The ground force of Spanish Armed Forces is known as the Spanish Army. They are responsible for all land-based military operations. The Army is counted among the oldest forces, being active since the fifteenth century.

The existence of this Army can be dated back to the time when King Fernando and Isabel, the Queen were ruling the country (late fifteenth century). It is the largest and the oldest of the 3 services of Spain. The mission of this Army is to defend the Balearic Islands, Melilla, the peninsular Spain, Ceuta, the Spanish islands, Canary Islands as well as the rocks off the north coast of Africa.

This army is now completing a major reformation. Previously, it had been organized into 9 regional operational commands. Later this number was reduced to 6 commands combined with a revised employment of forces: the Central Command, the Southern Command, the Levante Command, the Eastern Pyrenees Command, the Northwestern Command and the Western Pyrenees Command. There were also the 2 military zones of Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. Melilla and Ceuta were included in the Southern Command. All the regional command and zonal command were led by three star ranked officers. The regional commander holding the title of Capitán General or Captain General was regarded to be 1 of the most high-ranked officers of Spanish Army despite his authority being reduced.

The Spanish Army Photo The Army was divided into 2 basic categories under the earlier organization. These two categories were Territorial Operational Defence Forces and Immediate Intervention Forces. Theoretically, the former force consisted of 2 mountain divisions and 14 brigades, being responsible for maintaining security in regional commands as well as for reinforcing Spanish Civil Guard and police against terrorism and subversion. The latter consisted of 3 divisions and 10 brigades and was responsible for defending the Gibraltar and Pyrenean frontiers as well as for fulfilling the country's security commitments overseas. However, in reality majority of Immediate Intervention Forces weren't positioned for carrying out their actual mission of defending the borders of the country. Many of these units were posted near different major cities for the convenience of officers with part-time jobs. However, they could be summoned from these cities anytime to control social disturbances or unrest.

The classification of Spanish Army into these two categories was being eliminated in a gradual incomplete procedure. The brigade was regarded as the basic tactical unit. The number of army units had also been cut down from 24 down to 15 when 9 territorial defense brigades were dismantled. Eleven of the total units had been formed within the 5 divisions while 3 units were coordinated to be independent. Another army unit was formed to be in the general reserve.

The First Division called Brunete Armored Division was the best equipped one among the five. Guzman el Bueno Division, the Second Division (motorized) was reorganized and gained a third brigade. This army unit was capable of a rapid maneuver and was regarded as the major defensive power in the south. The third division called the Maestrazgo Division is controlled by the Levante Command and consists of 2 brigades with a reasonable level of mobility. The Fourth Division or Urgel Division and Fifth Division or Navarra Division are the 2 mountain divisions with each comprising of 2 mountain army units.