Spanish Army

The Spanish Army (Spanish: Ejército de Tierra; lit. "Army of the Land/Ground") is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies — dating back to the late 15th century.

Ejército de Tierra
Spanish Army
Emblem of the Spanish Army
Seal of the Spanish Army
Founded15th century – present
Country Spain
AllegianceFelipe VI
RoleLand force
Size124,100 personnel (2018)[1]
Part ofSpanish Ministry of Defense
Garrison/HQBuenavista Palace, Madrid
Mascot(s)Crowned rampant eagle with Saint James cross
Chief of Staff of the ArmyArmy General
Francisco Javier Varela Salas[2]
Commander in ChiefKing Felipe VI
Aircraft flown
Attack helicopterTiger
ReconnaissanceMBB Bo 105


The Spanish Army has existed continuously since the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (late 15th century). The oldest and largest of the three services, its mission was the defense of Peninsular Spain, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Melilla, Ceuta and the Spanish islands and rocks off the northern coast of Africa.

Under the Habsburgs

Peter Snayers - Spanischer Überfall auf ein flämisches Dorf
Spanish attack on a Flemish village

During the 16th century, Habsburg Spain saw steady growth in its military power. The Italian Wars (1494–1559) resulted in an ultimate Spanish victory and hegemony in northern Italy by expelling the French. During the war, the Spanish Army transformed its organization and tactics, evolving from a primarily pike and halberd wielding force into the first pike and shot formation of arquebusiers and pikemen, known as the columella. During the 16th century, this formation evolved into the tercio infantry formation. The new formation and battle tactics were developed because of Spain's inability to field sufficient cavalry forces to face the heavy French cavalry.[3]

Backed by the financial resources drawn from the Americas,[4] Spain could afford to mount lengthy campaigns against her enemies, such as the long-running Dutch Revolt (1568–1609), defending Christian Europe from Ottoman raids and invasions, supporting the Catholic cause in the French civil wars and fighting England during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The Spanish Army grew in size from around 20,000 in the 1470s to around 300,000 by the 1630s during the Thirty Years' War that tore Europe apart, requiring the recruitment of soldiers from across Europe.[5] With such numbers involved, Spain had trouble funding the war effort on so many fronts. The non-payment of troops led to many mutinies and events such as the Sack of Antwerp (1576), in which 17,000 people died in military rape and killing.[6]

The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) drew in Spain alongside most other European states. Spain entered the conflict with a strong position, but the ongoing fighting gradually eroded her advantages; first Dutch, then Swedish innovations had made the tercio more vulnerable, having less flexibility and firepower than its more modern equivalents.[7] Nevertheless, Spanish armies continued to win major battles and sieges throughout this period across large swathes of Europe. French entry into the war in 1635 put additional pressure on Spain, with the French victory at the Battle of Rocroi in 1643 being a major boost for the French. By the signing of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Spain was forced to accept the independence of the Dutch Republic.

In the second half of the century, a much reduced and increasingly neglected Spanish Army became infamous for being poorly equipped and rarely paid.[8]

18th century

Spain remained an important naval and military power, depending on critical sea lanes stretching from Spain through the Caribbean and South America, and westwards towards Manila and the Far East.

The Army was reorganized on the French model and in 1704 the old Tercios were transformed into Regiments. The first modern military school (the Artillery School) was created in Segovia in 1764. Finally, in 1768 King Charles III sanctioned the "Royal Ordinances for the Regime, Discipline, Subordination, and Service in His Armies", which were in force until 1978.[9]

Napoleonic era and Restoration

In the late 18th century, Bourbon-ruled Spain had an alliance with Bourbon-ruled France and therefore did not have to fear a land war. Its only serious enemy was Britain, which had a powerful Royal Navy; Spain, therefore, concentrated its resources on its Navy. When the French Revolution overthrew the Bourbons, a land war with France became a danger which the king tried to avoid.

The Spanish Army was ill-prepared. The officer corps was selected primarily on the basis of royal patronage, rather than merit. About a third of the junior officers had been promoted from the ranks, and they did have talent, but they had few opportunities for promotion or leadership. The rank-and-file were poorly trained peasants. Elite units included foreign regiments of Irishmen, Italians, Swiss, and Walloons, in addition to elite artillery and engineering units. Equipment was old-fashioned and in disrepair. The army lacked its own horses, oxen, and mules for transportation, so these auxiliaries were operated by civilians, who might run away if conditions looked bad. In combat, small units fought well, but their old-fashioned tactics were hard of use against the French Grande Armée, despite repeated desperate efforts at last-minute reform.[10]

When war broke out with France in 1808, the army was deeply unpopular. Leading generals were assassinated, and the army proved too incompetent to handle command and control. Junior officers from peasant families deserted and went over to the insurgents; many units disintegrated. Spain was unable to mobilize its artillery or cavalry.

During the war, there was one victory at the Battle of Bailén within the first two months of the war and with little time to prepare against the veteran French troops, which however not followed in its advantage - the French evacuated the peninsula all the way to the Ebro valley near the Pyrenees - and suffering many humiliating defeats of the regular Spanish Army after such auspicious start, proved to be the first sound defeat to the hitherto seemly unbeatable Imperial French Army, and demonstrating that if given more or less equal forces than the usual mass superiority of the French as it happened to force the surrender of a whole division of the Imperial French Army, this inspired many other nations formerly defeated by France, motivating first Austria and showed the force of nationwide resistance to Napoleon. Conditions however steadily worsened as Napoleon brought more effective troops into the peninsula, as the insurgents increasingly took control of Spain's battle against Napoleon in guerrilla warfare and created a more or less unified underground national resistance, for which traditional armies of the time were not organized or prepared for yet. It was not the Spanish Army that defeated Napoleon, but the insurgent peasants whom Napoleon ridiculed as packs of "bandits led by monks",[11] or rebels in insurgency against the government of his brother, Joseph I, implanted by Napoleon as a new monarch. By 1812, the army controlled only scattered enclaves, and could only harass the French with occasional raids. The morale of the army had reached a nadir, and reformers stripped the aristocratic officers of most of their legal privileges.[12]

Nineteenth-century wars

Spain entered the 19th century with a reduction of territory and recognition of power in Europe following the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and faced renewed problems in the international arena. The Spanish military was devastated as a consequence of its former alliance with France, costing it its main fleets and many war damages in its military arsenals and weapons factories, much of which was inflicted by the British or Portuguese allies during the Peninsular campaign to prevent the French or Spanish to resume their services after the war. In the immediate aftermath of the war, while its administration was facing local rebellions against a renewed absolutist monarchy, the overseas colonies inspired by France and the United States of America sought to wrestle control from the debilitated European government that demanded more taxes to rebuild itself after the Napoleonic period disasters. Many continental armies were sent to Central America and South America which proved to be futile and too late. The former Empire lost an important artery of its power and with it the wealth in revenues which it had become dependent on over the centuries. In response, attempts were made to reform the military into a modern and standing national force, with conscription being adopted.

Simultaneously, as consequence of regional grievances brewing for decades against the centralization of government that the Bourbon rulers brought from France, as well as political tensions surfacing during and after the Napoleonic Wars, Spain faced a series of internal dynastic conflicts, collectively known as the Carlist Wars, requiring Spain to undergo a series of reforms directed at its military, administrative, and social structures. As consequence of these internal conflicts, and the weakness of the central structures of government under the monarchy, many generals with political ambitions would interrupt public life in multiple Coup d'états, known as Pronunciamientos, for the rest of the century until the Second Restoration of the Bourbons in Spain under Alfonso XII. These series of military interruptions in civil government eventually shaped a permissive cultural and political mentality, with a tacit expectation of "special emergency interventions" from the military that would pervade well into the first third of the 20th century, ultimately ending up in the Spanish Civil War.

Second Republic (1931–36)

During the Second Spanish Republic, the Spanish government enlisted over ten million men to the army.

Civil War (1936–39)

Some US citizens came to Spain to fight in their civil war for two main reasons. The first being to promote their ideals the other being to escape the trials of living in America during the great depression.

The Americans totaled 2,800 and suffered heavy casualties: 900 killed and 1,500 wounded.

The Spanish Army under the Francoist Regime (1939–1975)

This period can be divided in four phases:[13]

  • 1939–1945: Second World War
  • 1945–1954: International Isolation (lack of means)
  • 1954–1961: Agreement with the United States (a certain improvement in means and capabilities)
  • 1961–1975: Development plans (economic basis for the modernisations that follows in the 1970s and 1980s).

Second World War

Spanish soldiers at the Eastern Front
Spanish soldiers of the Blue Division during World War II, c. 1941

At the end of the Civil War, the Spanish (Francoist) Army counted with 1,020,500 men, in 60 Divisions.[14] During the first year of peace, Franco dramatically reduced the size of the Spanish Army to 250,000 in early 1940, with most soldiers two-year conscripts.[15] A few weeks after the end of the war, the eight traditional Military Regions (Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Burgos, Valladolid, La Coruña) were reestablished. In 1944 a ninth Military Region, with HQ in Granada, was created.[14] The Air Force became an independent service, under its own Air Ministry.

Concerns about the international situation, Spain's possible entry into World War II, and threats of invasion led him to undo some of these reductions. In November 1942, with the Allied landings in North Africa and the German occupation of Vichy France bringing hostilities closer than ever to Spain's border, Franco ordered a partial mobilization, bringing the army to over 750,000 men.[15] The Air Force and Navy also grew in numbers and in budgets, to 35,000 airmen and 25,000 sailors by 1945, although for fiscal reasons Franco had to restrain attempts by both services to undertake dramatic expansions.[15]

During the Second World War, the Spanish Army had eight Army Corps, with two or three Infantry Division each. Additionally, there were two Army Corps in Northern Africa, the Canary Islands General Command and the Balearic Islands General Command, one Cavalry Division and the Artillery's General Reserve. In 1940 a Reserve Group, with three Divisions, was created.[14]

International Isolation

At the end of the Second World War, the Spanish Army counted 22,000 officers, 3,000 NCO and almost 300,000 soldiers. The equipment dated from the Civil War, with some systems produced in Germany during the World War. Doctrine and Training were obsolete, as they had not incorporated the teachings of the Second World War. This situation lasted until the agreements with the United States in September 1953.[13]

Agreement with the United States (Barroso Reform, 1957)

After the signature of the military agreement with the United States in 1953, the assistance received from Washington allowed Spain to procure more modern equipment and to improve the country's defence capabilities. More than 200 Spanish officers and NCOs received specialised training in the United States each year under a parallel program. With the Barroso Reform (1957), the Spanish Army abandoned the organisation inherited from the Civil War to adopt the United States' pentomic structure. In 1958 three experimental pentomic Infantry Divisions were created (Madrid, Algeciras, Valencia). In 1960, five more pentomic Infantry Divisions (Gerona, Málaga, Oviedo, Vigo, Vitoria) and four mountain Divisions were created. All in all, after the Barroso Reform, the Spanish Army had 8 pentomic Infantry Divisions, four Mountain Divisions, one Armoured Division, one Cavalry Division, three independent Armoured Brigades and three Field Artillery Brigades.[13]

Years of Economic Development (Menéndez Tolosa Reform, 1965)

The 1965 Reforms were inspired by contemporary French organisation and Doctrine of the era. The Army was grouped into two basic categories: the Immediate Intervention Forces (Field Army) and the Operational Defence Forces (Territorial Army) and were divided into the following:

  • The IIF (FA) had the mission of defending the Pyrenean and the Gibraltar frontiers and of fulfilling Spain's security commitments abroad and thus were composed of the following:
    • Armoured Division, with two Brigades
    • Mechanised Division, with two Brigades
    • Motorized Division, with two Brigades
    • Parachute Brigade (raised 1973)
    • Airborne Brigade
    • Armored Cavalry Brigade
    • Army Corps support units
  • ODF (TA) units had the missions of maintaining security in the regional commands and of reinforcing the Civil Guard) and the police against subversion and terrorism categorized into:
    • 9 independent TA Infantry Brigades (one in every Military Region), with two Infantry Battalions each,
    • 2 TA Mountain Divisions,
    • 1 Mountain Reserve of the Army High Command (TA),
    • The Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla commands, with their respective TA units including the Regulares (6 Groups later reduced to 4) and the Spanish Legion (4 Tercios),
    • and the Army General Reserve Command, composed of TA units working as the reserve force of the Army and are the equivalent to the United States Army Reserve.[13]
Members of the Spanish Legion.

During the last years of the Francoist regime, contemporary weapons were ordered for the Spanish Army. In 1973, the military education system was reformed in depth, in order to make its structure and objectives similar to those existing in the civilian universities. It was during this time that the Spanish Army fought in the campaigns in what is now Western Sahara against Arab forces in the area who agitated for the end of Spanish colonial rule.

The Spanish Army under King Juan Carlos I and beyond

Initial years (1975–1989)

Three main events characterise this period: creation of a single Ministry of Defence (1977) to replace the three existing military ministries (Army, Navy and Air Ministries), the failed coup d'état in February 1981 and the accession to NATO in 1982.

The Army modernisation program (META plan) was done between 1982 and 1988 in order for Spain to achieve full compliance with NATO standards.[16] When the plan was completed the following results were achieved:

  • Military regions in the mainland were reduced from 9 to 6.
  • The IIF (FA) and the ODF (TA) were merged into one single structure.
  • The number of Brigades was reduced from 24 to 15.
  • Personnel numbers were reduced from 279,000 to 230,000.

After the end of the Cold War (1989–present)

The end of the Cold War came with the reduction of the term of military service for conscripts until its complete abolition in 2001[17] and the increasing participation of Spanish forces in multinational peacekeeping operations abroad[18] are the main drivers for changes in the Spanish Army after 1989. Three reorganisation plans were implemented since: the RETO plan (1990), the NORTE plan (1994)[19] and the Instruction for Organisation and Operation of the Army (IOFET) 2005.



BRIPAC in Afghanistan 121569
Spanish soldiers of the Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan.

In 2001, when compulsory military service was still in effect, the army was about 135,000 troops (50,000 officers and 86,000 soldiers). Following the suspension of conscription the Spanish Army became a fully professionalised volunteer force and by 2008 had a personnel strength of 75,000.[20] In case of a war or national emergency, an additional force of 80,000 Civil Guards comes under the Ministry of Defence command.



Combat vehicles

  • 219 Leopardo 2E (A6) Main Battle Tank
  • 108 Leopard 2 A4 Main Battle Tank ( 54 in reserve )
  • 261 Pizarro infantry fighting vehicles in two versions
  • 500+ M113 armored personnel carriers in seven versions
  • 90 TOM Bv206S tracked vehicle
  • 84 VRC-105B1 Centauro wheeled tank-destroyer
  • 4 VCREC Centauro
  • 648 BMR-M1 medium six-wheeled APC
  • 135 VEC-M1 cavalry scout vehicle
  • 185 IVECO LMV Lince 4WD tactical vehicle (575 total order)
  • 100 RG-31 Mk5E Nyala (MRAP) 4WD tactical vehicle (MRAP)
  • 10 Cardom Recoil Mortar System (RMS)
  • 6 Husky 2G (mine detection system)
  • URO VAMTAC, all terrain 4x4 tactical vehicle (more than 1,500)
  • Santana Anibal, an all terrain 4x4 utility vehicle (more than 1,500)
  • Iveco Euro Cargo all terrain utility vehicle
  • DAF CF
  • Iveco M250W.37
  • VEMPAR Tactic Heavy Lorry 450HP, 20t cargo lorry



Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Agusta-Bell 212 Italy Rotorcraft Utility 6
Boeing CH-47D Chinook USA Rotorcraft Transport 17 To be upgraded to CH-47F by Boeing in 2019.[21]
Eurocopter AS332B1 Super Puma France Rotorcraft Transport 1982 16
Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar France Rotorcraft Transport 1998 17
Eurocopter EC-135 Europe Rotorcraft Trainer/utility 2008 16
Eurocopter Tiger Europe Rotorcraft Attack 2007 20 4 on order
NHI NH90 Europe Rotorcraft Transport 2016 8 37 on order

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Commanders in Chief of the Spanish Army

Army Ministers

Source: es:Ministerio del Ejército

Chiefs of the Army Staff

Command Guidon of the Spanish Army
Command Guidon of the Spanish Army
  • Lieutenant General José Vega Rodríguez (1976–1978)[22]
  • Lieutenant General Tomás de Liniers y Pidal (1978–1979)[22]
  • Lieutenant General José Gabeiras Montero (1979–1982)[22]
  • Lieutenant General Ramón de Ascanio y Togores (1982–1984)[22]
  • Lieutenant General José María Sáenz de Tejada y Fernández de Bobadilla (1984–1986)[22]
  • Lieutenant General Miguel Íñiguez del Moral (1986–1990)[22]
  • Lieutenant General Ramón Porgueres Hernández (1990–1994)[22]
  • Lieutenant General José Faura Martín (1994–1998)[22]
  • Lieutenant General Alfonso Pardo de Santayana y Coloma (1998–2003)[22]
  • Army General Luis Alejandre Sintes (2003–2004)[22]
  • Army General José Antonio García González (2004–2006)[22]
  • Army General Carlos Villar Turrau (2006–2008)[22]
  • Army General Fulgencio Coll Bucher (2008–2012)[22]
  • Army General Jaime Domínguez Buj (2012–2017)[23]
  • Army General Francisco Javier Varela Salas (2017–present)[2]


Boscoej Aridoej
Digital Woodland
Digital desert

Ranks and insignia

The military ranks of the Spanish army are as follows below. For a comparison with other NATO ranks see Ranks and Insignia of NATO. Ranks are wore on the cuff, sleeves and shoulders of all army uniforms, but differ by the type of the uniform being used.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Capitán General General de Ejército Teniente General General de División General de Brigada Coronel Teniente Coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez Alférez 13eje 12ej 13ej
Capitán general[note 1] General de Ejército Teniente general General de división General de brigada Coronel Teniente coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez Caballero Alférez Cadete Alumno repetidor Alumno 2º Alumno 1º
  • 1 Retained by His Majesty the King of Spain as his constitutional role.
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Spain Spain
OR10-Suboficial Mayor.svg OR09-Subteniente.svg OR08-Brigada.svg OR07-Sargento Primero.svg OR06-Sargento.svg OR05-Cabo Mayor.svg OR04-Cabo Primero.svg OR03-Cabo.svg OR02-Soldado de primera.svg OR01-Soldado.svg
Suboficial mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento primero Sargento Cabo mayor Cabo primero Cabo Soldado de primera Soldado

See also


  1. ^ "España Hoy 2016-2016". (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b New chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force. Ministry of Defence (Spain). Retrieved 31 March 2017
  3. ^ , Davies, 1961
  4. ^ Elton, p. 181.
  5. ^ Anderson, p. 17.
  6. ^ Carlton, 2011: p.42.
  7. ^ Meade, p. 180.
  8. ^ Anderson, pp. 109–10.
  9. ^ "Comparative Atlas of Defence in Latin America / 2008 Edition, p.42 (PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  10. ^ Charles J. Esdaile, The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War (1988)
  11. ^ Russell Crandall (2014). America's Dirty Wars: Irregular Warfare from 1776 to the War on Terror. Cambridge UP. p. 21.
  12. ^ Otto Pivka, Spanish Armies of the Napoleonic Wars (Osprey Men-at-Arms, 1975)
  13. ^ a b c d PUELL DE LA VILLA, Fernando (2010). "El devenir del Ejército de Tierra (1945-1975)". In Fernando Puell de la Vega y Sonia Alda Mejías (ed.). Los Ejércitos del franquismo. Madrid: IUGM-UNED. 2010. Pp. 63-96.
  14. ^ a b c MUÑOZ BOLAÑOS, Roberto (2010). "La institución militar en la posguerra (1939-1945)". In Fernando Puell de la Vega y Sonia Alda Mejías (ed.). Los Ejércitos del franquismo. Madrid: IUGM-UNED. 2010. Pp. 15-55.
  15. ^ a b c Bowen, Wayne H.; José E. Álvarez (2007). A Military History of Modern Spain. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-275-99357-3.
  16. ^ YÁRNOZ, Carlos (February 10, 1983). "El plan de modernización del Ejército de Tierra renovará completamente la estructura actual". Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  17. ^ See an announcement by the Minister of Defence
  18. ^
  19. ^ CERVERA ARTEAGA, Eva. "Retrospectiva de tres décadas en el Ejército de Tierra español". Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  20. ^ "Estadística de Personal Militar de Complemento , Militar Profesional de Tropa y Marinería y Reservista Voluntario (PDF)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 December 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  21. ^ Waldron, Greg (4 January 2019). "Boeing to upgrade Spain CH-47D fleet to -F standard". Flight Global. Singapore. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m La transformación de los ejércitos españoles (1975-2008). Madrid: UNED. 2009. p. 366.
  23. ^ "Real Decreto 1164/2012, de 27 de julio (PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  1. ^ The King only


  • Instruction no. 59/2005, of 4 April 2005, from the chief of the army staff on army organisation and function regulations, published in B.O.D. NO. 80 of 26 April 2005
  • Lehardy, Diego, Spanish Army in a difficult phase of its transformation, RID magazine, July 1991.

External links and further reading

Army of Africa (Spain)

The Army of Africa (Spanish: Ejército de África, Arabic: الجيش الإسباني في أفريقيا‎, Al-Jaysh al-Isbānī fī Afriqā) or "Moroccan Army Corps" (Cuerpo de Ejército Marroquí') was a field army of the Spanish Army that garrisoned the Spanish protectorate in Morocco from the late 19th century until Morocco's independence in 1956.

At the start of the 20th century, the Spanish Empire's colonial possessions in Africa comprised Morocco, Spanish Sahara, Ifni, Cape Juby and Spanish Guinea.

Battle of Fleurus (1622)

The Battle of Fleurus of August 29, 1622 was fought in the Spanish Netherlands between a Spanish army, and the Protestant forces of Ernst von Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick during the Eighty Years' War and Thirty Years' War. The bloody struggle left the Protestants mangled and the Spanish masters of the field, but unable to block the enemy's march.

Battle of Landriano

The Battle of Landriano took place on 21 June 1529, between the French army under Francis de Bourbon, Comte de St. Pol and the Imperial–Spanish army commanded by Don Antonio de Leyva, Duke of Terranova in the context of the War of the League of Cognac. The French army was destroyed and marked the temporary end of the ambitions of Francis I of France to vie for control of northern Italy with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Battle of Lens

The Battle of Lens (20 August 1648) was a French victory under Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé against the Spanish army under Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). It was the last major battle of the war and a shattering French victory. The battle cemented the reputation of Condé as one of the greatest generals of his age.

After the crushing French triumph at Rocroi against the Spanish Army of Flanders, the French went on to capture dozens of towns throughout northern France and the Spanish Netherlands over the next four years. Archduke Leopold Wilhelm was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands in 1647 to strengthen Spain's Habsburg alliance with Austria and began a major counteroffensive the same year. The Spanish army was successful at first, reconquering the lost fortresses of Armentières, Comines and Landrecies.

The Prince de Condé was recalled from a failed campaign in Catalonia against the Spanish and appointed commander of the 16,000-man French army opposite the Spanish army of the Archduke and General Jean de Beck, the governor of Luxembourg. Condé captured Ypres but then the 18,000-strong Spanish-German force laid siege to Lens. Condé advanced to meet them.

In the battle that ensued, Condé provoked the Spanish into giving up a strong hilltop position for an open plain, where he used the discipline and superior close-combat capabilities of his cavalry to charge and rout the Walloon-Lorrainer cavalry on the Spanish wings. The French infantry and cavalry in the center were attacked by the strong Spanish center, suffering heavy losses but holding their ground. The French cavalry on the wings, freed from any opposition, encircled and charged the Spanish center, who promptly capitulated. The Spanish lost half their army, some 8,000–9,000 men of which 3,000 were killed or wounded and 5,000–6,000 captured, 38 guns, 100 flags along with their pontoons and baggage. French losses were 1,500 killed and wounded. The French victory contributed to the signing of the Peace of Westphalia but the outbreak of the Fronde rebellion prevented the French from exploiting their victory to the hilt against the Spanish.

Battle of Nieuwpoort

The Battle of Nieuwpoort, between a Dutch army under Maurice of Nassau and Francis Vere and a Spanish army under Albert of Austria, took place on 2 July 1600 near the present-day Belgian city Nieuwpoort.

Battle of Ocaña

The Battle of Ocaña was fought on 19 November 1809 between French forces under Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, Duke of Dalmatia and King Joseph Bonaparte and the Spanish army under Juan Carlos de Aréizaga, which suffered its greatest single defeat in the Peninsular War. General Juan Carlos de Aréizaga's Spanish army of 51,000 lost nearly 19,000 killed, wounded, prisoners and deserters, mostly due to the French use of their cavalry. Tactically, the battle was a Cannae-like encirclement of the Spanish army. The strategic consequences were also devastating, as it destroyed the only force capable of defending southern Spain; the area was overrun over the winter in the Andalusia campaign.

Battle of Truillas

The Battle of Truillas was fought on 22 September 1793 during the French Revolutionary War between the French Army of the eastern Pyrenees led by Luc Siméon Auguste Dagobert and the Spanish Army of Catalonia under Antonio Ricardos. This attempt by the French to exploit their success in the Battle of Peyrestortes ended in a Spanish victory. Part of the War of the Pyrenees, the battle was fought near the village of Trouillas in the French department of Pyrénées Orientales, 12 km southwest of Perpignan.

Battle of the Gebora

The Battle of the Gebora was a battle of the Peninsular War between Spanish and French armies. It took place on 19 February 1811, northwest of Badajoz, Spain, where an outnumbered French force routed and nearly destroyed the Spanish Army of Extremadura.

In a bid to help extricate Marshal André Masséna's army from its position in Portugal—mired in front of Lisbon's defensive Lines of Torres Vedras—Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult led part of the French Armée du Midi (Army of the South) from Andalusia into the neighbouring Spanish region of Extremadura and laid siege to the important fortress town of Badajoz. Viscount Wellington and the Spanish Captain-General Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd marqués de La Romana sent a large Spanish army to raise the siege. La Romana, however, died before the army could depart, and command fell to General Gabriel de Mendizábal Iraeta. Supported by a small force of Portuguese cavalry, the Spaniards reached the town and camped on the nearby heights of San Cristóbal in early February 1811.

When Mendizabal ignored Wellington's instructions and failed to entrench his army, Soult took advantage of the vulnerable Spanish position and sent a small force to attack the Spaniards. On the morning of 19 February, French forces under Marshal Édouard Mortier quickly defeated the Spanish army, inflicting 1,000 casualties and taking 4,000 prisoners while losing only 400 men. The victory allowed Soult to concentrate on his assault of Badajoz, which fell to the French on 11 March and remained in French hands until the following year.


Brihuega is a municipality located in the province of Guadalajara, Spain. According to the 2007 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 2,835 inhabitants.

In 1710 a hard-fought battle took place in the township between Lord Stanhope's troops and the Franco-Spanish army during the War of the Spanish Succession. The town was also the scenario of violent battles during the Battle of Guadalajara in the Spanish Civil War.

Leopard 2E

The Leopard 2E or Leopard 2A6E (E stands for España, Spanish for Spain) is a variant of the German Leopard 2 main battle tank, tailored to the requirements of the Spanish army, which acquired it as part of an armament modernization program named Programa Coraza, or Program Breastplate. The acquisition program for the Leopard 2E began in 1994, five years after the cancellation of the Lince tank program that culminated in an agreement to transfer 108 Leopard 2A4s to the Spanish army in 1998 and started the local production of the Leopard 2E in December 2003. Despite postponement of production owing to the 2003 merger between Santa Bárbara Sistemas and General Dynamics, and continued fabrication issues between 2006 and 2007, 219 Leopard 2Es have been delivered to the Spanish army.

The Leopard 2E is a major improvement over the M60 Patton tank, which it replaced in Spain's mechanized and armored units. Its development represented a total of 2.6 million man-hours worth of work, 9,600 of them in Germany, at a total cost of 2.4 billion euros. This makes it one of the most expensive Leopard 2s built. Indigenous production amounted to 60% and the vehicles were assembled locally at Sevilla by Santa Bárbara Sistemas. It has thicker armor on the turret and glacis plate than the German Leopard 2A6, and uses a Spanish-designed tank command and control system, similar to the one fitted in German Leopard 2s. The Leopard 2E is expected to remain in service until 2025.

Luis Firmín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión

Luis Fermín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión (1752 – 20 November 1794) became a general officer in the army of the Kingdom of Spain. In 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars, he commanded the Spanish Army in a mostly unsuccessful effort to hold back the army of the First French Republic. He died in battle fighting the French.

Sack of Rome (1527)

The Sack of Rome on 6 May 1527 was a military event carried out in Rome (then part of the Papal States) by the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. It marked a crucial imperial victory in the conflict between Charles and the League of Cognac (1526–1529)—the alliance of France, Milan, Venice, Florence and the Papacy.

Siege of Breda (1624)

The Siege of Breda of 1624–25 occurred during the Eighty Years' War. The siege resulted in Breda, a Dutch fortified city, falling into the control of the Army of Flanders.

Following the orders of Ambrogio Spinola, Philip IV's army laid siege to Breda in August 1624. The siege was contrary to the wishes of Philip IV's government because of the already excessive burdens of the concurrent Eighty and Thirty Years' wars. The strategically located city was heavily fortified and strongly defended by a large and well prepared garrison of 7,000 men, that the Dutch were confident would hold out long enough to wear down besiegers while awaiting a relief force to disrupt the siege. Yet despite the Spanish government's opposition to major sieges in the Low Countries and the obstacles confronting any attack on such a strongly fortified and defended city, Spinola launched his Breda campaign, rapidly blocking the city's defences and driving off a Dutch relief army under the leadership of Maurice of Nassau that had attempted to cut off the Spanish army's access to supplies. In February 1625, a second relief force, consisting of 7,000 English troops under the leadership of Horace Vere and Ernst von Mansfeld, was also driven off by Spinola. After a costly eleven-month siege, Justin of Nassau surrendered Breda on 2 June 1625. Only 3,500 Dutchmen and fewer than 600 Englishmen had survived the siege.The Siege of Breda is considered Spinola's greatest success and one of Spain's last major victories in the Eighty Years' War. The siege was part of a plan to isolate the Republic from its hinterland, and co-ordinated with Olivare's naval war spearheaded by the Dunkirkers, to economically choke the Dutch Republic. Although political infighting hindered Spinola's freedom of movement, Spain's efforts in the Netherlands continued thereafter. The siege of 1624 captured the attention of European princes and, along with other battles like White Mountain (1620), played a part in the Spanish army regaining the formidable reputation it had held throughout the previous century.

In the latter stages of the combined Eighty and Thirty Years' wars that had greatly strained Spanish resources, Breda was lost to the Dutch under Frederick Henry after a four-month siege. In the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty and Eighty Years' wars, it was ceded to the Dutch Republic.

Siege of Grave (1586)

The Siege of Grave, also known as the Capture of Grave of 1586, took place from mid-February – 7 June 1586 at Grave, Duchy of Brabant, Low Countries (present-day the Netherlands), between the Spanish army led by Governor-General Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, and the Dutch-States and English forces under Baron Peter van Hemart, Governor of Grave, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).In early spring of 1586, the Count Peter Ernst of Mansfeld, by order of Alexander Farnese, laid siege to the town of Grave. After little more than a month, and the impossibility of the English and Dutch forces for relieving the city, Grave surrendered to the Spaniards on 7 June. The capture of the strategically important town of Grave by Parma, and the impotence of the English commander Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to relieve the town, in a time where England had raised hopes to the Dutch rebels thanks to the Treaty of Nonsuch, was a complete military and political success for the Spanish authorities, and a severe blow for the Protestant cause, provoking the start of the disagreements of the States-General of the Netherlands with the Earl of Leicester.A few days later, the Spanish army, commanded by the Prince of Parma, laid siege to Venlo, garrisoned and supported by Dutch and English troops led by Maarten Schenck and Sir Roger Williams. On 28 June 1586 the garrison was forced to capitulation to the Spaniards.

Siege of Haarlem

The siege of Haarlem was an episode of the Eighty Years' War. From 11 December 1572 to 13 July 1573 an army of Philip II of Spain laid bloody siege to the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, whose loyalties had begun wavering during the previous summer. After the naval battle of Haarlemmermeer and the defeat of a land relief force, the starving city surrendered and the garrison was massacred. The resistance nonetheless was taken as an heroic example by the Orangists at the sieges of Alkmaar and Leiden.

Spanish Army Airmobile Force

The Army Airmobile Force (Spanish: Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra, FAMET) is the army aviation branch of the Spanish Army. An Independent Army Aviation force was formed in 1965 as Aviación Ligera del Ejército de Tierra (Army Light Air Force) and renamed FAMET in 1973.

Spanish Legion

The Spanish Legion (Spanish: Legión Española, La Legión), informally known as the Tercio or the Tercios, is a unit of the Spanish Army and Spain's Rapid Reaction Force. It was raised in the 1920s to serve as part of Spain's Army of Africa. The unit, which was established in January 1920 as the Spanish equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, was initially known as the Tercio de Extranjeros ("Tercio of foreigners"), the name under which it began fighting in the Rif War of 1920–1926. Although it recruited some foreigners mostly from Spanish-speaking nations, it recruited predominantly from Spaniards. As a result, and since it existed to serve in Spanish Morocco, it was soon renamed Tercio de Marruecos ("Tercio of Morocco"). By the end of the Rif War it had expanded and again changed its name, to the "Spanish Legion", with several "tercios" as sub-units.

The Legion played a major role in the Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. In post-Franco Spain, the modern Legion has undertaken tours of duty in the Yugoslav Wars, Afghanistan, Iraq and Operation Libre Hidalgo UNIFIL

Tanks in the Spanish Army

Tanks in the Spanish Army have over 90 years of history, from the French Renault FTs first delivered in 1919 to the Leopard 2 and B1 Centauro models of the early 21st century. The FT took part in combat during the Rif War and participated in the first amphibious landing with tanks in history, at Alhucemas. In 1925, the Spanish Army began to undertake a program to develop and produce a Spanish tank, heavily based on the Renault FT, called the Trubia A4. Although the prototype performed well during testing, the tank was never put into mass production. Spain also experimented with the Italian Fiat 3000, acquiring one tank in 1925, and with another indigenous tank program called the Landesa. However, none of these evolved into a major armor program, and as a result the FT remained the most important tank, in numbers, in the Spanish Army until the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Between July 1936 and April 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, the two opposing armies received large quantities of tanks from foreign powers. Spain's Second Republic received tanks from the Soviet Union, many of which were captured by the Nationalists and pressed into service against their former masters, while the Nationalists were aided by the Germans and Italians. The Spanish Civil War, although the testing grounds for the nations which would ultimately take part in World War II, proved inconclusive with regard to the proof of mechanized warfare. Despite attempts by Soviet, German and Italian advisers and soldiers to use newly devised mechanized theories, the lack of quality crews and the tanks, and the insufficient number of tanks provided bad impressions on the usefulness of tanks on their own.

The Spanish Army ended the Spanish Civil War with a fleet of light tanks. Looking to field more modern and capable tanks, the Spanish government and army approved a venture to design and manufacture a better light tank, known as the Verdeja. Although the tank proved extremely capable, a lack of raw materials and incentives doomed the program to failure. Furthermore, the army's requirements were temporarily satisfied by the procurement of Panzer IVs in late 1943. However, the failure to acquire more Panzer IVs led Spain to field a largely antiquated collection of light tanks and an insufficient number of medium tanks. In 1953, the United States and Spain signed a military aid program agreement which led to the supply of M47 Patton and M48 Patton tanks. The American decision to not allow Spain to deploy the new equipment during the war with Morocco caused Spain to look elsewhere for a supplement to their fleet of Patton tanks, ending with the procurement of the AMX-30E, based on the French AMX-30.

Almost immediately after, the Spanish Army and the Spanish Ministry of Defense began to look for a future Spanish tank. This turned into the Lince tank program. Despite numerous bids the Lince program failed, both for financial reasons and because of the decision to instead modernize the existing fleet of AMX-30Es, and to procure a large number of American M60 Patton tanks to replace the fleet of older Patton tanks. Over half of the AMX-30Es were upgraded to a standard known as the AMX-30EM2, while the rest suffered a more finite modification known as the AMX-30EM1. However, the M60s and modernized AMX-30Es did not provide Spain with a sufficiently modern tank for the next century. In 1994, the Spanish Ministry of Defense began to negotiate with the German government over the purchase of the Leopard 2. Ultimately, 108 Leopard 2A4s were procured and integrated into the Spanish Army, while 219 Leopard 2Es were built in Spain, based on the German Leopard 2A6. The Leopard 2E and Leopard 2A4 replaced the fleet of M60 Patton tanks, while Spain's AMX-30EM2s were replaced by Italian B1 Centauro anti-tank cavalry vehicles. Presently, the Spanish Army possesses 108 Leopard 2A4s and 219 Leopard 2Es.

Toledo Infantry Academy

The Infantry Academy (ACINF) is a military training center of the Spanish Army located in the city of Toledo. The center is responsible for providing basic training, specialization and training for officers and non-commissioned officers of the infantry branch of the Spanish Army.

Land forces
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