The Spanish Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Españolas
) are the military forces of Spain, responsible for protecting it. The King of Spain is the Commander in Chief and ultimate leader of the armed forces, and holds the rank of Captain-General. The three branches of the Spanish Armed Forces are the Army (Ejército de Tierra
), The Navy (Armada Real Española
, the Trope Namer
) and the Air Force (Ejército del Aire
). Al three branches numbers 80,000, 25,000 and 27,000 respectively. Spain and its military forces are active members of NATO and participates in the Eurocorps.
Spanish Army was established around the Siege of Granada, under the Reign of the Catholic Monarchs, who would introduce a milicia
system loyal to the monarchy, which provided a counterbalance to the traditional medieval armies, loyal to the nobility, and any future challenge. These new military forces were essential to the conquest of the Nuevo Mundo
and the defeat of the indigenous peoples, as well as the maintenance of the other spanish colonies such as the Netherlands and the Philippines. Spanish Naval Infantry is the oldest in the world and was first established by King Charles V in 1537. The basic military formation during the Golden Age (1556-1648)was called Tercios
Spanish Military were deeply reformed with the arrival of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish Throne in 1700 and served in the American Revolution, where the King of Spain supported the newborn United States against the British Empire. Spanish Marines were able to defeat the British Redcoats on a battle during the American Revolution and its commander rode next to George Washington in the parade after the war was won. Indeed, Spain invented the concept of Marines. This was copied by the British, who were in turn copied by the Americans. During the invasion by Napoleon in 1808, the Army was mostly smashed by the Napoleonic forces (with the exception of Bailén, which was the first defeat of Napoleon's army ever, or the First Siege of Zaragoza), and most of the military actions were done by the guerrilla fighters spread out over all of Spain. It would take some time until Spain recovered an army.
All along the 19th century, the military became a big part of society. It faced thrice against the Carlist insurrectionists and several times they launched a coup d'état against the government. From this time came Ramón María Narváez
, nicknamed "El Espadón de Loja" (Loja's Greatsword
), who said while he was dying that he wouldn't pardon his enemies: "I have none. I have had them all shot"
. The Spanish military suffered a big defeat in the Spanish-American War
of 1898 (el desastre del 98
), losing the last colonies outside of Africa in the effort. This would spark the need for a "regeneration" amongst Spanish people, realising that Spain wasn't the great empire of the Austrias anymore.
An invasion of the Rif (in Northern Morocco) required that many reservists were sent there. Most of them were married and would have to leave behind their families, which they wouldn't be able to support on a soldier's salary. This, and several other factors, sparked the Semana Trágica
of Barcelona, which ended with around 150 deaths, many injured, five people condemned to death and Antonio Maura's politic career. In 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera led a coup d'état in the spirit of Benito Mussolini
's one the year before, with Alfonso XIII
's support (there are many indications that one of the reasons for this was that the Picasso commission, which was investigating the Disaster of Annual
, was finding proofs of the King's involvement in the disaster). In 1930, Primo de Rivera was forced to resign due to the fact that most of the country was fast losing their confidence in both him and the monarchy. A direct result of this was that, in 1931, the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed.
In July 1936, part of the army rose against the Republican leftist government. The partial failure of the coup meant 3 years of civil war
, which ended with the victory of the rebels, led by Francisco Franco
The coup d'état of 23 February 1981 came because the army was getting angry at the democratic government's supposed incompetence at trying to restore the economy and stopping the ETA terrorist group, which had been trying to spark this by killing soldiers and officers. It started with Antonio Tejero, a Guardia Civil colonel, invading the Congreso de los Diputados with 200 guardias civiles.note
Jaime Milans del Bosch, the commander of the 3rd military district (HQ in Valencia) declared the state of emergency. King Juan Carlos I
would, in the end, send a message while wearing the Capitán General de los Ejércitos
uniform, condemning the coup, putting an end to it by the next day. Since then, the Spanish Army, Navy and Air Force have mostly played a part in NATO and UNO missions, playing important roles in peacekeeping both at the Balkans, Afghanistan and Lebanon, amongst others.
One controversial move was José María Aznar's decision to send troops to Iraq to support the invasion in 2003 despite almost complete opposition to it from the Spanish population. This would become one of the main points of contention during the 2004 elections, when socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero promised to bring the troops from there as soon as possible if he got elected, which he did.
Ejército de Tierra
Ejército del Aire
Armada Real Española
The Spanish Military in Fiction:
- Appears several times in Horatio Hornblower, usually with rather a contempt for their skills. Note that in real life they were extraordinarily bad in pitched battles whether by land and by sea-but they were absolutely terrifying in guerrilla warfare and Urban Warfare at the time. So Captain Hornblower's prejudices would have been only partially true.
- Washington Irving describes several Badass Spanish warriors in his books.
- Arturo Pérez-Reverte has written about the Tercios (in the Alatriste series), the Conquistadores and the Napoleonic wars (in assorted short fiction). He devoted a whole novel to the battle of Trafalgar, too.