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 .
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.  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the missions, dimensions and equipment of the Armed Forces, as their current configuration is designed to confront outdated conventional threats, and not for those that are emerging in the present and future security scenario.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.  Earlier still, in 2003, the US invaded Iraq in a massive armoured offensive.
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.  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".
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.
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.
 Law 36/2015, on National Security.
agreement  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".
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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. "
 "If you want peace, prepare even more for war".