Updated: February 14, 2023Published: January 19, 2023
The Spanish military is one of the most potent forces worldwide; surprised? Well, I was!
Spain has a considerable military budget and many branches for a small country, so citizens have plenty to choose from.
If you were curious about this side of Spain, after reading this article, you will have all the information and sources you might need to understand the Spanish military fully.
Don’t forget to visit the official website for more detailed information on Spain’s military.
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What is the Spanish military called?
The Spanish Military or Armed Forces are tasked to “guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain, and to defend its territorial integrity and the constitutional order.”
The Armed Forces of Spain, like in most countries around the world, are formed of five main branches: the army, air and space force, navy, royal guards, and military emergency units.
Each previous branch has a purpose, ranks, and requirements to get into; however, article 30. 1 of the Spanish Constitution quotes that any citizen has the right and duty to defend Spain. In most cases, only the will to serve is enough to drive people into the army. All Spanish citizens can prepare themselves to serve, but more is needed to guarantee they will get in.
Spain ranks as the 7th most powerful military in Europe and 19th most powerful worldwide.
Who is the commander-in-chief of the Spanish military?
Let us explain the higher ranks of the armed forces: the King, the president, the minister of defense, the chief of defense, and the chief of staff of each military branch.
Today, Felipe VII, the King of Spain, has supreme command over the armed forces and the authority to declare war. On the other hand, the government has power over military administration and the duty to defend the state. Hence, the president has many tasks, such as directing defense policy and managing crises and military operations.
The Minister of Defense is in charge of assisting the presenting by developing and implementing the defense policy. All of the ranks above are supported by the Chief of Defense Staff, and then there is the Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Royal Guard, and Military Emergency Units.
Spanish Military Branches and Ranks
The “Ejército Tierra,” or the Spanish Army, guarantees the country’s territorial integrity and constitutional order. This branch of the Spanish forces was founded in the 15th century and is one of the most important armies in Europe.
This military branch has 23 ranks, from student and applicant to captain.
The Spanish Air and Space Force, also known as “Ejército de Aire,” was founded in the 20th century. It guarantees territorial integrity regarding airspace to keep international security in peace operations and humanitarian aid.
The air and space force has 27 ranks, from soldier to captain.
The Spanish navy, or “Armada,” like the other two, must guarantee the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, as well as keep peace with our neighbors. But, instead of doing it in the air or the ground, the Spanish armada dedicated its time to protecting the maritime area of Spain.
The navy has one annex, the Spanish Navy Infantry, and additionally, to complete a career in this military branch, one must go through 22 ranks, from marine to captain.
For more information, visit the official Spanish navy website: Armada.
4. Royal Guards
The Spanish Royal Guard or “Guardia Real” is a military branch that has existed since the 16th century and guarantees the protection of the King and the royal family. To be part of the Royal Guard, members should have had training from the army, the navy, the air force, or the common corps.
In addition, the Royal Guard, with the Swiss Pontifical Guard and the British Yeomen Warders, is considered one of the most specialized military units in the world.
This military branch has more than 14 ranks, from soldier to colonel, going through several ranks within the student category.
The Military Emergency Units is the most recent branch of the Spanish armed forces. It was founded in 2005 to provide disaster relief in the country and abroad if necessary.
The MEU has particular missions, such as:
Intervention during natural threats emergencies like floods, spill-overs, earthquakes, landslides, large snow storms, and other adverse weather conditions.
Intervention in forest fires.
Intervention during emergencies derived from technological dangers.
Intervention during emergencies as a consequence of terrorist attacks or illicit or violent acts, including those acts against critical infrastructures, dangerous installations, or nuclear, biological, radiological, or chemical agents.
Intervention during situations of environmental contamination.
Intervention during any other emergency deemed appropriate by the Prime Minister of Spain.
Yellow is the identifiable color of the Military Emergency Units, with 18 ranks from soldier to General.
How much does Spain spend on its military?
In 2022, Spain spent $14,810 million on its military, slightly less than the $ 14 849 spent in 2021, which was the highest in the past five years.
Now you have all the critical details on the Spanish military. For more information on specific rankings, I encourage you to visit the official websites. If there are any doubts about this topic, please feel free to ask!
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!