Spanish security and defense policy rests on membership
of the UN, NATO and the EU. Terrorism, conflicts in the
Middle East, northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, and
migrant flows dominate the country's security policy. Spain
is active in the development of the EU Common Border and
Coast Guard and in the operational cooperation of the
European Union Border Control Authority for the External
Borders: European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex.
Spain regularly contributes to crisis management efforts
led by NATO, the EU and the UN. The defense is integrated
with NATO's joint defense. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that ESP stands for Spain.
Like most Western defense forces, the Spanish defense
force has been reduced over the past 20 years to develop
smaller, interdependent, professional forces. The military
duty was abolished in 2001 and replaced by a staff supply on
a voluntary basis.
In 2015, the Armed Forces comprised approximately 130,000
people and 16,000 reservists. Since the end of the 1980s,
women in the armed forces have been allowed and in 2012
women accounted for 12.1 percent of the total workforce.
In 2016, defense costs accounted for around 0.9 percent
of GDP, which is equivalent to about $ 11 billion. Spain
thus has the eighth largest defense budget of NATO member
states. The army is organized into four regional staffs and
two divisions of division size. The mechanized division
consists of an armored brigade and two mechanized brigades.
The Rapid Response Force consists of five light brigades
including one brigade from the Spanish Alien Legion. Spain
is also responsible for one of NATO's nine corps
Local infantry include three infantry brigades and
bandits on the Balearic Islands in the western
Mediterranean. The army comprises a total of about 75,000
soldiers. The army disposes of more than 300 tanks, 80 heavy
armored vehicles, 350 tanks, more than 100 band artillery
pieces and a dozen attack helicopters. Combat vehicles and
artillery are manufactured in Spain. The Navy includes a
small aircraft carrier, four submarines, 11 frigates and
seven mine clearance vessels, a number of support vessels
and a naval infantry brigade supported by three ascent
ships. A large part of the navy's vessels are manufactured
at Spanish shipyards.
The Air Force comprises 145 fighter aircraft Eurofighter
and Hornet. There are also 16 Harrier II attack planes in
the Navy. The Air Force also has a number of tankers and
transport planes, including Hercules and A400M.
Guardia Civil is a militarily organized police
force, the so-called gendarmerie, which comprises about
80,000 people and is governed by both the Interior and
Defense Ministries. Guardia Civil together with the civilian
national, regional and municipal police forces constitute
Spain's police department. Guardia Civil is the oldest law
enforcement organization in Spain and is mainly responsible
for police duties in rural and border areas. They also have
some traffic police information.
The US has two bases in Spain. Rota is the main base in
Europe for US Navy vessels capable of firing down ballistic
robots. At the Morón base near Seville, a base is
established for US air forces and the US Navy. The Morón
base is an important base for US operations in Africa.
Spain's defense overview
Spain has one of Europe's oldest defenses. The army and
navy were founded in the 15th century. Following the
abolition of military service in Spain in 2001, the country
received a professional defense in 2002. Spain has been a
member of NATO since 1982, although membership was formally
ratified following a referendum in 1986. In addition,
Spain's defense participates in the Euro Corps and in the
European Union. Combat Groups.
US A has had both Navy and Air Force forces deployed in
Spain since the 1950s, and also a military base in Rota
(Cadiz) since 1953. Spain participates in the upgrading of
NATO's missile shield over Europe through the military base
in Rota. In addition, the military base in Zaragoza was used
by the United States in the period 1958–1994, and Torrejón
(Madrid) was used until 1996. Spain and the United States
also share the military base in Morón (Seville).
In total, Spain's armed forces have 120,350 active
personnel, with a reserve of 15,150 personnel (2018, IISS).
The Civil Guard Guardia Civil has 75,800 personnel, and
cooperates with the defense, but is not formally part of it.
Guardia Civil is subject to the Spanish Ministry of the
Interior, not the Ministry of Defense.
Spain's army is one of Europe's oldest, and was founded
in the 15th century. The army has 69,250 active personnel.
Several special units fall under the Army:
- Spanish Foreign Legion(La Legión)
- Parachute Brigade(BRIPAC)
- Special Operations Group (GOE)
- The Mountain Company (Esquiadores Escaladores)
- Special forces Regularesin Ceuta and
Melilla on the African continent
Army material comprises 327 tanks of a Leopard 2, 227
armored vehicles, 895 armored personnel carriers, 96
self-propelled artillery central M109, 105 helicopters, 21
of combat helicopters of the type EC665 Tiger, and six
intermediate heavy drones. In addition, the army has heavy
artillery, long-range anti-aircraft missiles and
The Spanish Navy has 20,100 active personnel, including
5350 Marines and 850 personnel associated with the Navy's
Air Force. The fleet includes three tactical submarines, one
amphibious assault ship (Juan Carlos 1), two Rotterdam-class
dock landings (13,800 tonnes), five fighters, six frigates,
23 patrol vessels, six minesweepers, 12 landings, and 29
logistics and auxiliary vessels.
The Navy's aircraft have a total of 13 V/STOL fighters
of the type Harrier II, 21 helicopters, and seven light
The navy's main bases are in Rota and San Fernando
(Cadiz), and in Ferrol (Galicia). The Navy's submarine base
is located in Cartagena (Murcia)
During the colonial period, the Spanish navy played an
important role (1500s to 1800s), including with the voyages
to Cristóbal Colón (also Kristoffer Columbus), the world's
first land voyage led by Portuguese Fernando Magallanes and
the discovery of the sea route between Asia and America.
The naval school ship is Juan Sebastian de Elcano,
based in San Fernando.
The Air Force has 19 350 active personnel. Material
comprising 83 fighters (64 Eurofighter Typhoon and 19 F-5
FreedomFighter), 84 fighter aircraft of type F/A-18
Hornet, 11 maritime patrol five EK aircraft, two
reconnaissance aircraft, five tanker, 77 transport, 98
trainers, and 40 transport helicopters.
The Royal Life Guard (Guardia Real)
The Royal Guard is a traditional special force composed
of troops from the Army, Navy and Air Force. It aims to
protect the royal family, foreign heads of state and royal
palaces. The Livestock was founded in 1504, under Ferdinand
and Isabella, the royal couple who brought Spain into one
Emergency emergency unit
The Emergency Emergency Unit (Unidad Militar de
Emergencias) is a newer special force, established in 2005,
whose main purpose is to deal with disasters. The unit
consists of around 3500 people.
In 2018, Spain participated in NATO operations in
Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with 40
personnel, in the Mediterranean with a fighter (SNMG2), and
had deployed 300 personnel in Latvia (Enhanced Forward
Spain also participated in the UN operation in Lebanon
(UNIFIL) with 630 personnel.
In addition, Spain had among other things deployed 350
personnel in Iraq (Operation Inherent Resolve).