The Minister of Defense reports on the Armed Forces’ missions abroad in 2023

Jan 29, 2024 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

A total of 12,075 Spanish military and civil guards have participated in the 17 international missions. The war in Ukraine has reinforced the collective deterrence and defence policy.

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The Armed Forces’ missions abroad in 2023

The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, appears before the Defense Committee of the Congress of Deputies The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, appears before the Defense Committee of the Congress of Deputies to report on the missions abroad of the Armed Forces during 2023.
In her second appearance before the Defense Committee of the Congress of Deputies, the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, has reported on the missions abroad of the Armed Forces during 2023, which take place in “a complex and unstable geostrategic scenario” as a result mainly of the war in Ukraine and Gaza, and an increase in security threats in the Sahel.

During the year 2023, a total of 12,075 military and civil guards have participated in some of the contingents that Spain has deployed in the 17 missions abroad, of which almost 10% were women.

Within the reinforcement of the deterrence and defense policy that the war in Ukraine has meant for NATO allies, especially on the Eastern flank, Spain, which maintains its firm commitment to support Ukraine, is contributing in the first place with a large contingent of 700 troops to the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) mission in Latvia, led by Canada.

“I can assure you that all the countries that are part of this mission highlight the great professionalism that all of them have, their dedication and sacrifice,” Robles stressed, adding that our military keep the morale very high.

The Spanish Armed Forces have also assisted NATO in air police operations, in Romania or Estonia, or reinforcing the anti-aircraft defenses in Lithuania or Romania, “which the Alliance countries themselves have asked Spain for”, the minister pointed out.

In addition, Robles also thanked the contribution of all the Spanish military to the European Union Mission for Military Assistance to Ukraine (EUMAN UA), which provides general and specialized training to Ukrainian soldiers.

“To date, some 2,500 military personnel from the armies and the Navy have participated as instructors, the involvement of our soldiers is total with a capacity, morale and with an empathy worthy of highlighting,” he said, reporting that more than 3,300 Ukrainian servicemen have received training to date.

Within the concept of deterrence is the support mission to Turkey, with the deployment of a Patriot unit made up of 138 troops. The personnel of this mission, said Robles, “played a very important role together with the UME in the humanitarian aid during the terrible earthquake” that devastated the country.

Spain also participates in NATO’s Standing Naval Groupings, a maritime presence that constitutes a basic element of the Alliance’s Very Rapid Response Forces.

Stability missions
In the other group of missions focused on stability and security in the areas where the Spanish Armed Forces are deployed, the first is the United Nations mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) led by Spain under the command of Lieutenant General Aroldo Lázaro.

More than 650 military personnel and 7 civilians (interpreters) are deployed in the ‘Operation Free Hidalgo’ which monitors the border line (blue line) between Lebanon and Israel, where there has been an increase in tension as a result of the crisis generated by the Hamas attacks against Israelis on October 7, and the warlike response of the Jewish state.

Faced with a situation of enormous risk, Robles wanted to “pay them a very special tribute” because the role they are playing “is essential and fundamental for the maintenance of peace”.

Iraq is another mission where since May 2023 the head of the NATO mission is also another Spaniard, Lieutenant General José Antonio Agüero, and for this reason, Robles remarked that “compared to those who say that if Spain is not involved and does not participate, I believe that these leaderships highlight Spain’s commitment”.

In her speech, Robles spoke of Operation Atalanta to combat piracy in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somalia. After referring to the “great work being done by the frigate ‘Victoria’ in the Indian Ocean”, the Minister of Defense said that “if someone pretended that this mission, with a single frigate, could carry out missions in the Red Sea, it is completely unaware of the reality of what is happening in the Indian Ocean, and the great work done by the Spanish Navy in tracking and monitoring piracy”.

About the Sahel area, where there are Spanish troops in Mali under the umbrella of the EU, Minister Robles has recognized for the first country that “last year there has been a loss of European influence in the scenario” and that the continuity of the EUTM Mali is pending strategic review scheduled for this 2024.

Finally, the Minister of Defense proclaimed that the men and women of the Armed Forces are one of the best ambassadors of our country, both for the quality of their work and their human qualities, always to seek peace and help the most vulnerable.