Entries with label spain .

VCR 8x8 programme [framework Romero/MDE].

▲ VCR 8x8 programme [framework Romero/MDE].

COMMENTARY / Salvador Sánchez Tapia

After a gap of eight years since the publication of the last one in 2012, on 11 June, the President of the Government signed a new National Defence Directive (DDN), marking the beginning of a new Defence Planning cycle which, according to agreement as established by Defence Order 60/2015, must be valid for six years.

The essay of the DDN 20 is a laudable effort to bring National Defence up to date with the challenges of a complex strategic environment in continuous transformation. Its essay also offers an excellent opportunity to build along the way an intellectual community on this important issue, which will be fundamental throughout the cycle.

This article provides a preliminary analysis of the DDN 20, focusing on its most relevant aspects. In a first approximation, the official document follows the line, already enshrined in other Directives, of subsuming the essentially military concept of Defence within the broader concept of Security, which affects all the capabilities of the State. In this sense, the first difficulty that the DDN 20 has had to overcome is precisely the lack of a statutory document similar to the DDN, drafted at the level of National Security, to illuminate and guide it. To tell the truth, the void has not been total, since, as the DDN 20 states in its introduction, there is a National Security Strategy (NSS) which, although published in 2017, has served as reference letter in its elaboration, despite the evident lack of consistency between the strategic scenarios described in both documents.

In this respect, it is precisely worth noting the lack of specificity with which the new DDN defines the strategic scenario, compared to the somewhat greater specificity of the ESN. The DDN 20 draws a vague, almost generic scenario, applicable almost unchanged to any nation in the world, without reference to specific geographical areas; an accumulation of threats and risks to security with an impact on Defence, none of which appears to be more likely or more dangerous, and to which is added the recognition of changes in the international order that once again bring the possibility of major armed conflicts closer.

Such an approach makes it difficult to subsequently define defence objectives and guidelines for action and, perhaps for this reason, there are certain inconsistencies between the three parts of the document. It is striking that, although the document raises certificate, somewhat hastily, the possibility of the emergence of COVID-19, the possibility of a pandemic not being triggered is not considered in the description of the strategic scenario, something that, on the other hand, is included in ESN 17.

Along with the description of this scenario, the DDN 20 is interspersed with a series of considerations of a programmatic nature, which are in themselves positive and relevant, but which have little to do with what is to be expected in a document of this nature, designed to guide National Defence planning. In some cases, such as the promotion of the gender perspective, or the improvement of the quality of life of staff in its dimensions of improving living facilities, reconciling professional and family life, and reintegration into civilian life once the link with the Armed Forces has ended, the considerations are more typical of the Policy of staff of the department than of a DDN. In others, such as the obligation to respect local cultures in military operations, they seem more subject typical of the Royal Ordinances or another subject code of ethics.

Undoubtedly motivated by the COVID-19 emergency, and in view of the role that the Armed Forces have assumed during it, the DDN emphasises the importance of partnership missions with and in support of civilian authorities, something that is inherent to the Armed Forces, and establishes the specific goal of acquiring capabilities that allow for the partnership and support of these authorities in crisis and emergency situations.

The management of the pandemic may have highlighted gaps in response capabilities, shortcomings in coordination instruments, etc., thereby opening a window of opportunity to make progress in this area and produce a more effective response in the future. Nonetheless, it is important to guard against the possibility, opened up by this DDN, of losing sight of the central tasks of the armed forces, to prevent an excessive focus on missions in support of the civilian population from ending up distorting their organisation, manning and training, thereby impairing the deterrence capacity of the armies and their combat operability.

The DDN also contains the customary reference letter, which is necessary to promote a true Defence Culture among Spaniards. The accredited specialization is justified by the role that the Ministry of Defence should play in this effort. However, it is not the defence sector that needs to be reminded of the importance of this issue. The impact of any effort to promote Defence Culture will be limited if it is not assumed as its own by other ministries Departments , as well as by all State administrations, being aware that it is not possible to generate a Defence Culture without a prior consensus at the national level on such essential issues as the objectives or values shared by all. It is perhaps on this aspect that the emphasis should be placed.

Perhaps the most controversial point of the DDN 20 is that of financing. Achieving the objectives set out in the document requires sustained financial investment over time to break the current ceiling of expense in defence. Maintaining the Armed Forces among the technological elite, substantially improving the quality of life of the professional staff -which begins with providing them with the equipment that best guarantees their survival and superiority on the battlefield-, reinforcing the capacity to support civilian authorities in emergency situations, strengthening intelligence and action capabilities in cyberspace, or meeting with guarantees the operational obligations derived from our active participation in international organisations, for which, moreover, a commitment has been made to strengthen them by up to 50% for a period of one year, is as necessary as it is costly.

The DDN 20 recognises this in its final paragraph when it states that the development of the document's guidelines will require the necessary funding. This statement, however, is little more than an acknowledgement of the obvious, and is not accompanied by any commitment or guarantee of funding. Bearing in mind the important commitments already signed by the Ministry with the pending Special Armaments Programmes, and in view of the economic-financial panorama that is on the horizon due to the effects of COVID-19, which has led the JEME to announce the arrival of a period of austerity for the Army, and which deserves to be listed among the main threats to national security, it seems difficult that the objectives of the DDN 20 can be covered in the terms it sets out. This is the real Achilles' heel of the document, which could make it little more than a dead letter.

In conclusion, the issuance of a new DDN is to be welcomed as an effort to update National Defence policy, even in the absence of a similar instrument that periodically articulates the level of Security Policy in which Defence Policy should be subsumed.

The emergence of COVID-19 seems to have overtaken the document, causing it to lose some of its validity and calling into question not only the will, but also the real capacity to achieve the ambitious goals it proposes. At least it is possible that the document may act, even in a limited way, as a kind of shield to protect the Defence sector against the scenario of scarce resources that Spain will undoubtedly experience in the coming years.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Comments

Spain sells less defence materiel to Latin American countries than it should, given the volume of trade.

  • 2019 saw a recovery in Spanish arms sales to Latin America, surpassing 2018 figures, which were the lowest in a long time.

  • In the last five years, Spain has sold 691.2 million euros worth of defence material to the region, 3.6% of its world arms exports.

  • Mexico (24.8%), Ecuador (22.5%), Brazil (16.1%), Peru (14.4%) and Colombia (8.6%) are the five countries that purchased the most material from Spain in the last five years.

Airbus NH90 helicopter, final assembly at Airbus Military facilities in Spain [Airbus] [Airbus].

Airbus NH90 helicopter, final assembly at Airbus Military facilities in Spain [Airbus].

report SRA 2020 / Álvaro Fernández[PDF version].

Latin American countries constitute a area of clear commercial interest for Spain. However, despite being the seventh largest arms exporter in the world and therefore particularly active in this sector, Spain sells less defence material to Latin America and the Caribbean than it would be entitled to in terms of its overall export quota to the region.

While between 2014 and 2018 Spain's overall export of products to Latin America remained between 5.3% and 6.5% of its global exports, in the case of the arms sector it was around 3.2% in 2016 and 2017 and fell to 1.06% in 2018. It is to be expected that this minimum percentage will have risen again in 2019, a year for which there is still no official data complete, but in view of those of the first semester it would seem that it will not even be close to 3%.

The explanation for this lower weight of arms exports in Spain's overall exports to Latin America can be found in two facts. One is the lower budget devoted to the purchase of this subject of material by most Latin American countries, compared to some large buyers(in 2018 Spain's first customer was Germany - in turn the fourth largest exporter in the world -, which accounted for 33% of Spanish sales). The other is that Latin American nations have other important market options: the United States, Russia and China (first, second and fifth largest arms exporters in the world; France is the third).

In 2018 there was a significant drop in Spanish defence exports to Latin America, which amounted to 38.3 million euros, well below any of the previous years. The partial data for 2019 indicates a recovery, although without reaching the figures recorded in 2015, when a peak of €239.4 million was reached, or those of the previous years of 2016 and 2017, when they were €130.7 million and €139.3 million, respectively.

The decrease in 2018 corresponds to a lower purchase list from most Latin American customers. Of the five largest customers over the past five years, Colombia was the only one to maintain a similar level of purchases, amounting to €11 million. Colombia and the next largest buyer, Mexico, were the only ones to slightly increase their imports in 2017, although they were lower than in previous years. The reduction was significant for the next two customers in 2018, Brazil and Peru. This year marked a further reduction in imports from Ecuador, which has continuously cut its order book from Spain over the last five years.

The figures considered in this article only take into account defence material, not other subject material, which the administrative office considers separately, such as riot control material, hunting and sporting weapons, as well as dual-use technology products.



General and Latin American sales

Spain has around 130 companies dedicated to the arms sector. These include Airbus Military, Navantia and Indra, which are among the world's top 100 defence and security companies. Most of the sector are private companies, although there are some unique cases of public ownership, such as Navantia, dedicated to shipbuilding, both civil and military, created in 2005 when the assets of another public company, business , group IZAR, were spun off.

According to the official data of the administrative office of State for Trade, the issue of defence material exports has been increasing notably over the last few years. More than half of Spanish arms exports during 2018 and the first semester of 2019 were destined for countries belonging to NATO or the European Union. In 2017, exports exceeded 4.3 billion euros, after several years of increases in this market. In contrast, arms worth €3,720.4 million were sold in 2018, which was 14.4% less. In the first semester of 2019, however, an improvement was recorded, reaching €2,413 million, an increase of 41.5% compared to the same period last year.

In terms of trade with Latin America, between 2014 and 2018 Spain sold €691.2 million worth of military equipment to the region, representing 3.6 per cent of Spain's total arms exports of €19,042 million.

Over the five years as a whole, the leading importer was Mexico, which with purchases worth 171.4 million euros (of which 140.9 million euros corresponded to 2015 alone), acquired a quarter (24.8 per cent) of the defence materiel sold by Spain to Latin America over the five-year period. The second most important country was Ecuador, with 155.7 million and 22.5 per cent (slightly more than half -85.9 million- were purchases made in 2014 alone). It is followed by Brazil, which made more regular purchases over this time, with 111.8 million and 16.1%); Peru, with 99.5 million and 14.4% (the largest amount -78.4 million- was executed in 2017), and Colombia, with 59.5 million and 8.6%.



Some countries

Mexico has been the leading purchaser of Spanish defence material in the last five years (2014 and 2018) due to purchases made in 2015, when it acquired four transport aircraft, worth 127.2 million euros. In 2018 it only imported €10.1 million worth of parts, pieces and spare parts for Spanish-made aircraft, engine equipment for an aircraft derived from a European cooperation programme and instruments for an air surveillance system.

Brazil is one of the countries with the greatest diversity in the destination of its imports. In recent purchases, 19.7% went to private business , 74.2% to the Armed Forces and the remaining 5.9% to individuals. In 2018, it purchased 7.9 million euros worth of pistols, rifles and magazines for private individuals, as well as day sights, armoured vehicle parts, and Spanish and US-made aircraft parts for the Armed Forces.

Colombia imported in 2018 a total of 11 million euros in spare parts for the maintenance of artillery howitzers, artillery ammunition, spare parts for Spanish and US-made armoured vehicles, and parts for Spanish-made transport aircraft.

Until a few years ago, Venezuela was an important client for the Spanish arms industry. However, following the authoritarian drift taken by Nicolás Maduro's government, relations in this field have weakened. As recently as 2015, Spain sold 15.3 million euros worth of defence material to Maduro, in operations that were shrouded in controversy as some of the exported equipment could be used in the severe repression carried out against its citizens. Since then, with the increase in tensions between the Chavista regime and the United States or the European Union, a series of restrictions have been placed on the export of this subject material to Venezuela. Thus, sales went from having a value of 3.3 million euros in 2017 to just 44,000 euros in 2018, corresponding to payment for spare parts and parts for the modernisation of French-made armoured vehicles, in a transaction that was approved before the trade restrictions of this subject imposed by the EU.

The official data provided by administrative office distinguishes between authorised exports and realised exports. Authorisations do not always materialise in actual sales and sometimes these are executed in subsequent years. The difference is particularly notable in Venezuela, whose political status forced the restriction of exports to that country. In 2018, Spain suspended four licences already approved for Caracas, relating to helicopter maintenance and the provision of electro-optical supplies and systems. In addition, extensions to contracts for the modernisation of battle tanks were denied.

Bolivia and Nicaragua have stopped buying defence materiel from Spain: while between 2014 and 2018 they made no purchases, between 2007 and 2013 they imported 1.5 million and 62,000 euros, respectively.

Cuba, which had a peak in purchases in 2015 at €208,080, in 2018 spent €20,600 on pistols and pistol barrels for the police.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Articles Latin America

ANALYSIS / Salvador Sánchez Tapia [Brigadier General (Res.)].

The COVID-19 pandemic that Spain has been experiencing since the beginning of 2020 has brought to light the commonplace, no less true for having been repeated, that the concept of national security can no longer be limited to the narrow framework of military defence and demands the involvement of all the nation's capabilities, coordinated at the highest possible level which, in Spain's case, is none other than that of the Presidency of the Government through the National Security committee .[1]

Consistent with this approach, our Armed Forces have been directly and actively involved in a health emergency that is a priori far removed from the traditional missions of the nation's military arm. This military contribution, however, responds to one of the missions entrusted to the Armed Forces by the Organic Law of National Defence, in addition to a long tradition of military support to civil society in the event of catastrophes or emergencies. [2] In its execution, units of the three armies have carried out tasks as varied and apparently unrelated to their natural activity as the disinfection of old people's homes or the transfer of corpses between hospitals and morgues.

This status has stirred up a certain discussion in specialised and professional circles about the role of the armed forces in present and future security scenarios. From different angles, some voices are calling for the need to reconsider the missions and dimensions of armies in order to align them with these new threats, not with the classic war between states.

internship This view seems to be supported by the apparently empirical observation of the current absence of conventional armed conflicts - understood as those that pit armies with conventional means against each other manoeuvring on a battlefield - between states. Based on this reality, it is concluded that this form of conflict is practically banished, being little more than a historical relic replaced by other less conventional and less "military" threats such as pandemics, terrorism, organised crime, fake news, disinformation, climate change or cyber threats.

The corollary is obvious: it is necessary and urgent to rethink the missions, dimensions and equipment of the Armed Forces, as their current configuration is designed to confront outdated conventional threats, and not for those that are emerging in the present and future security scenario.

A critical analysis of this idea sample, however, paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. From a purely chronological point of view, the still unfinished Syrian civil war, admittedly complex, is closer to a conventional model than to any other subject and, of course, the capabilities with which Russia is making its influence felt in this war by supporting the Assad regime are fully conventional. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and occupied South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a conventional offensive operation. In 2006, Israel faced a hybrid enemy in South Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah - indeed, this was the model chosen by Hoffman as the prototype for the term "hybrid" - which combined elements of irregular warfare with fully conventional ones. [3] Earlier still, in 2003, the US invaded Iraq in a massive armoured offensive.[4]

If the case of Syria is eliminated as doubtfully classifiable as conventional warfare, it can still be argued that the last conflict of this nature - which, moreover, involved territorial gain - took place only twelve years ago; a short enough period of time to think that conclusions can be drawn that conventional warfare can be dismissed as a quasi-extinct procedure . In fact, the past has recorded longer periods than this without significant confrontation, which might well have led to similar conclusions. In Imperial Roman times, for example, the Antonine era (96-192 AD), saw a long period of internal Pax Romana briefly disrupted by Trajan's campaigns in Dacia. More recently, after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo (1815), the Central Powers of Europe experienced a long period of peace lasting no less than thirty-nine years. [5] Needless to say, the end of both periods was marked by the return of war to the foreground.

It can be argued that status is now different, as humanity today has developed a moral rejection of war as a destructive and therefore unethical and undesirable exercise. This distinctly Western-centric - or, if you prefer, Eurocentric - stance takes the part for the whole and assumes this view to be unanimously shared globally. However, the experience of the Old Continent, with a long history of destructive wars between its states, a highly ageing population, and little appetite to remain a relevant player in the international system, may not be shared by everyone.

Western rejection of war may, moreover, be more apparent than real, being directly related to the interests at stake. It is conceivable that, faced with an immediate threat to its survival, any European state would be willing to go to war, even at the risk of becoming a pariah ostracised by the international system. If, at that point, such a state had sacrificed its traditional military muscle in favour of fighting more ethereal threats, it would have to pay the price associated with such a decision. Bear in mind that states choose their wars only up to a point, and may be forced into them, even against their will. As Trotsky said, "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you".

The analysis of the historical periods of peace referred to above suggests that, in both cases, they were made possible by the existence of a power moderator stronger than that of the political entities that made up the Roman Empire and post-Napoleonic Europe. In the first case, this power would have been that of Rome itself and its legions, sufficient to guarantee the internal order of the empire. In the second, the European powers, at odds for many reasons, nevertheless stood united against France in the face of the possibility that the ideas of the French Revolution would spread and undermine the foundations of the Ancien Régime.

Today, although it is difficult to find a verifiable cause-effect relationship, it is plausible to think that this "pacifying" force is provided by American military power and the existence of nuclear weapons. Since the end of World War II, the United States has provided an effective security umbrella under whose protection Europe and other regions of the world have been spared the scourge of war on their territories, developing feelings of extreme rejection of any form of war.

On the basis of its unrivalled military might, the United States - and we with it - have been able to develop the idea, supported by the facts, that no other power will be so suicidal as to engage in open conventional warfare. The conclusion is clear: conventional war - against the United States, I might add - is, at internship, unthinkable.

This conclusion, however, is not based on a moral preference, nor on the conviction that other forms of warfare or threat are more effective, but simply on the realisation that, faced with America's enormous conventional power, one can only seek asymmetry and confront it by other means. To paraphrase Conrad Crane, "there are two kinds of enemy: the asymmetrical and the stupid".[6]

In other words, classical military power is a major deterrent that financial aid helps explain the leave recurrence of conventional warfare. Not surprisingly, even authors who preach the end of conventional war advocate that the United States should retain its conventional warfare capability.[7]

From North America, this idea has permeated the rest of the world, or at least the European cultural sphere, where it has become a truism that, under the guise of incontestable reality, obviates the possibility of a conventional war being initiated by the United States - as happened in 2003 - or between two nations of the world, or within one of them, in areas where armed conflict continues to be acceptable tool .

In an exercise in cynicism, one might say that such a possibility does not change anything, because it is none of our business. However, in today's interconnected world, there will always be the possibility that we will be forced to intervene for ethical reasons, or that our security interests will be affected by events in countries or regions a priori geographically and geopolitically distant from us, and that, probably hand in hand with our allies, we will be involved in a classic war.

While still in place, the commitment of US military power to Western security is under severe strain as America is increasingly reluctant to take on this role alone, and demands that its partners do more for its own security. We are not suggesting here that the transatlantic link will break down immediately. It seems sensible, however, to think that maintaining it comes at a cost to us that could drag us into armed conflict. It is also worth asking what might happen if one day the US commitment to our security were to lapse and we had transformed our armed forces to focus exclusively on the "new threats", dispensing with a conventional capability that would undoubtedly lower the cost that someone would have to incur if they decided to attack us with such means subject .

A final consideration has to do with what appears to be China's unstoppable rise to the role of major player in the International System, and with the presence of an increasingly assertive Russia, which is demanding to be considered a major global power once again. Both nations, especially the former, are clearly undergoing a process of rearmament and modernisation of their military, conventional and nuclear capabilities that does not exactly augur the end of conventional warfare between states.

To this must be added the effects of the pandemic, which are still difficult to glimpse, but among which there are some worrying aspects that should not be overlooked. One of these is China's effort to position itself as the real winner of the crisis, and as the international power of reference letter in the event of a repeat of the current global crisis. Another is the possibility that the crisis will result, at least temporarily, in less international cooperation, not more; that we will witness a certain regression of globalisation; and that we will see the erection of barriers to the movement of people and goods in what would be a reinforcement of realist logic as a regulatory element of International Office.

In these circumstances, it is difficult to predict the future evolution of the "Thucydides trap" in which we currently find ourselves as a result of China's rise. It is likely, however, to bring with it greater instability, with the possibility of escalation into a conventional subject conflict, whether between great powers or through proxies. In such circumstances, it seems advisable to be prepared for the most dangerous scenario of open armed conflict with China to materialise, as the best way to avoid it, or at least to deal with it in order to preserve our way of life and our values.

Finally, one cannot overlook the capacity of many of the "new threats" - global warming, pandemics, etc. - to generate or at least catalyse conflicts, which can indeed lead to a war that could well be conventional.

From all of the above it can be concluded, therefore, that if it is true that the recurrence of conventional warfare between states is minimal nowadays, it seems risky to think that it might be put away in some obscure attic, as if it were an ancient relic. However remote the possibility may seem, no one is in a position to guarantee that the future will not bring conventional war. Neglecting the ability to defend against it is therefore not a prudent option, especially given that, if needed, it cannot be improvised.

The emergence of new threats such as those referred to in this article, perhaps more pressing, and many of them non-military or at least not purely military, is undeniable, as is the need for the Armed Forces to consider them and adapt to them, not only to maximise the effectiveness of their contribution to the nation's effort against them, but also as a simple matter of self-protection.

In our opinion, this adaptation does not entail abandoning conventional missions, the true raison d'être of the Armed Forces, but rather incorporating as many new elements as necessary, and ensuring that the armies fit into the coordinated effort of the nation, contributing to it with the means at their disposal, considering that, in many cases, they will not be the first response element, but rather a support element.

This article does not argue - it is not its goal- either for or against the need for Spain to rethink the organisation, size and equipment of its armed forces in light of the new security scenario. Nor does it enter into the question of whether it should do so unilaterally, or at agreement with its NATO allies, or by seeking complementarity and synergy with its European Union partners. Understanding that it is up to citizens to decide what armed forces they want, what they want them for, and what effort in resources they are willing to invest in them, what this article postulates is that national security is best served if those who have to decide, and with them the armed forces, continue to consider conventional warfare, enriched with a multitude of new possibilities, as one of the possible threats the nation may have to face. Redefining the adage: Si vis pacem, para bellum etiam magis.[8]

[1] Law 36/2015, on National Security.

agreement [2] According to article 15. 3 of Organic Law 5/2005 on National Defence, "The Armed Forces, together with the State Institutions and Public Administrations, must preserve the security and well-being of citizens in cases of serious risk, catastrophe, calamity or other public needs, in accordance with the provisions of current legislation". These tasks are often referred to as "support to civil society". This work consciously avoids using that terminology, as it obviates that this is what the Armed Forces always do, even when fighting in an armed conflict. It is more correct to add the qualifier "in the event of a disaster or emergency".

[3] Frank G. Hoffman. Conflict in the 21st Century; The Rise of Hybrid Wars, Arlington, VA: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 2007. On the conventional aspect of Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon see, for example, 34 Days. Israel, Hezbollah, and the War in Lebanon, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

[4] Saddam's response contained a significant irregular element but, by design, relied on the Republican National Guard Divisions, which offered weak armoured and mechanised resistance.

[5] Azar Gat, War in Human Civilization, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 536. This calculation excludes peripheral Spain and Italy, which did experience periods of war in this period.

[6] Dr. Conrad C. Crane is . Crane is Director of the Historical Services of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and principal author of the celebrated "Field guide 3-24/Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-33.5, Counterinsurgency. "

[7] Jahara Matisek and Ian Bertram, "The Death of American Conventional Warfare," Real Clear Defense, November 6th, 2017. (accessed May 28, 2020).

[8] "If you want peace, prepare even more for war".

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Analysis Global