BUDGET CUTS

Plan drawn up to cut military personnel by 20,000

Soldiers to account for three-quarters of posts to disappear as army moves toward “technologically advanced” model

The Spanish Defense Ministry has drawn up plans to cut 15,000 military posts and another 5,000 civilian jobs over the next 13 years, a reduction equivalent to 13 percent on current staffing levels.

The drop in personnel is included in a plan named Vision 2025 drawn up by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Fernando García Sánchez, which aims to transform Spain's armed forces into an "agile, adaptable, sustainable and technologically advanced" unit by that year.

The armed forces' budget has been cut by 25 percent over the past four years and currently stands at 6.3 billion euros, equivalent to 0.6 of GDP. As a result, the number of hours spent on training exercises has been drastically reduced as have plans for modernization, while personnel costs have risen 73 percent. The armed forces have also run up debts of 27 billion on arms purchases that are impossible to pay back.

However, Defense Minister Pedro Morenés has avoided speaking of the need for cuts in personnel, putting the focus instead on analyzing the security risks Spain is facing and the measures needed to confront those risks. The biggest risk, however, is that posed by the economic crisis, and a number of Spain's European partners have already drastically slimmed down their armed forces. On Tuesday the minister admitted that the plan to cut back on personnel had been drawn up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but that it was merely “an opinion.”

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not make defense policy, but rather the defense minister and, in turn, the prime minister,” Morenés said.