Spain officially assumes command of the multinational NATO battalion

Spain officially assumes command of the multinational NATO battalion

July 1 was marked in red on the Armed Forces calendar. It is the day on which the Spanish Army officially takes command of the multinational NATO battalion deployed in Slovakia. One of the multiple positions that make up the anti-Russia wall that the Atlantic Alliance has designed so that Moscow thinks long and hard before invading another European country in the image and likeness of what happened in Ukraine.

De facto, the Spanish military commanders began to take control since the bulk of the contingent was deployed a couple of months ago. And as a leading country, it is the one that contributes the largest number of troops to this allied deployment. It will also be the largest Spanish detachment in Eastern Europe. But it was not officially taken until the ceremony that took place this Monday in Lest, where the entire Multinational Battalion is deployed.

The Spanish Armed Forces currently have 770 troops and almost 300 vehicles deployed in Slovakia. A deployment under the command of Colonel Andrés González Alvarado, head of the Isabel la Católica Regiment number 29, which belongs to the Galicia VII Brigade (BRILAT). Precisely, this unit and the Parachute Brigade (BRIPAC) provide the bulk of the Spanish force.

Along with them there are also soldiers from the logistics brigade, from the transmission, electronic warfare and intelligence regiments, as well as from the High Availability Land Headquarters of Bétera (Valencia). In the future the force will be increased even more, since it is expected that by the end of the year around a hundred troops will join three Tiger attack helicopters and two NH-90 multipurpose helicopters.

Among the capabilities provided by the Spanish Armed Forces are URO VAMTAC (High Tactical Mobility) armored vehicles, VERT (Land Exploration and Reconnaissance Vehicle), Centauro tank destroyers and Light Gun 105/37 light howitzers (these systems debut in an international deployment) in addition to Mistral missile launchers.

Spanish forces are not alone in Slovakia. Other countries such as the Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia or Slovakia itself will also contribute militarily, raising the number of troops of the Multinational Battalion to 1,100 soldiers. The Portuguese, for example, will be in charge of providing the main armored units, such as the Leopard tanks.

The location of this anti-Russia Battalion will be in Lest, in the center of the country, in a sparsely populated area where the Slovak army has an important field of maneuvers, enhanced in the last decade with significant economic investments. Until these last few days, interoperability maneuvers have been carried out between the military forces, something that will continue as long as there is an allied deployment in Slovakia.

Spain already rules in Slovakia: the most important mission to confront Russia

The troops deployed at the Slovak base in Lest are already under the orders of Spain. This morning, and after six months of preparation, the transfer of command ceremony between the Czech Republic and the Armed Forces was held. Thus, from today Spain leads a NATO battle group in Slovakia for the first time since the beginning of the mission, and this country becomes the one to which the Ministry of Defense has assigned the most troops. Specifically, 780 men and women, with more than 300 vehicles, begin their mission in the area today.

«Spain today assumes command as a nation with a strong commitment to the security of Slovakia and to the rest of the nations to contribute to safeguarding its freedom and security. Furthermore, I am convinced that this contribution will also represent a great opportunity to improve unity. of command, reinforce training and exercises at the multinational level and the general preparation of the components as more important steps towards a greater improvement of interoperability between all allies,» said the Chief of Staff during the change of command ceremony of Defense, Admiral Teodoro Esteban López Calderón.

Among the means deployed by Spain in Slovakia, the 'VRCC Centauro' cavalry reconnaissance and combat vehicles, VERT reconnaissance and land exploration vehicles, Mistral missile firing points, 105mm Light Gun field artillery howitzers and vehicles stand out. with EOD explosive disposal means.

Currently, Spain is investing the majority of its deployment capacity in battle groups on NATO's Eastern Front, where it has doubled its presence thanks to the new mission in Slovakia. Spain also has troops deployed in Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. In September the number of troops will be increased by a hundred more, when a Nasams anti-aircraft defense battery is deployed in Estonia for the second time. In addition, the F-18s deployed in Lithuania will return to Spain at the end of July, but on December 1 they will be relieved by eight Eurofighters that will fulfill the Air Police mission for four months in Romania.

Spain takes the reins of the multinational battalion

Spain leads in Slovakia, where it deploys troops for the first time, a multinational brigade, based in Lest, made up of more than 1,500 soldiers from eight nations, in one of the missions deployed by NATO to dissuade Russia from attacking an allied country.

Once taking over from the Czech Republic this Sunday, Spain assumed the role of Framework Nation of one of the eight Battle Groups that the Atlantic Alliance has on the eastern European flank.

They are part of the strategy to strengthen deterrence after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as agreed by NATO at the Madrid summit in June 2022. This military presence of the allies will also contribute to the national defense plans of Slovakia, a Central European country. which shares a border with Ukraine.

The Spanish Armed Forces will permanently maintain more than 750 soldiers, those who contribute the most to the mission. In addition, Spain contributes around 250 combat vehicles, including several Centauro (eight-wheeled armored vehicles), VAMTAC (high tactical mobility vehicles that can carry missiles) and heavy VEMPAR types.

An advanced command, basically composed of Spanish personnel under the command of a colonel, reinforced by soldiers from other allied countries, will be in charge of converting the combat group into a brigade, whenever NATO requires it. In this case a general will have to direct it.

The combat group is also permanently integrated by units from the host country (50 soldiers), Slovenia (104), the Czech Republic (150) and Portugal (80 troops with Leopard tanks).

Additionally, soldiers from the United States with an infantry company, Romania (anti-tank defense section) and Turkey participate in the mission contingent. The military of the latter country are alerted in their place of origin and will deploy «when called» ('on call', in English) for exercises, courses and other activities.

The Minister of Defense of Spain, Margarita Robles, recalled, during a visit to the Spanish troops deployed in Slovakia last May, that this is the largest Spanish contingent abroad, and responds to the commitment with NATO to reinforce the east of The alliance. «Once again, Spain demonstrates its commitment to solidarity with allied countries,» she stressed.

Ceremonia de traspaso de Mando del Battlegroup de Eslovaquia

Así se ha vivido en Lest la ceremonia de relevo de mando del Battlegroup de la OTAN desplegado en Eslovaquia. España es ahora la nación al mando

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