Budget cuts have left Spain’s armed forces down to “bare bones,” officials say

Commanders forced to concentrate their scarce resources on strengthening a small Joint Force

Miguel González

Drastic budget cuts will put the Spanish armed forces in a precarious situation this year, with military commanders forced to concentrate their scarce resources on strengthening a small Joint Force, officials have said.

Since 2008, the defense budget has been cut 32 percent, from 8.494 billion euros to 5.745 billion euros this year. Defense Minister Pedro Moranés was able to seek two loans over the last two years - 1.78 billion euros in 2012 and 877 million in 2013 - but that money went to pay off debts.

Unlike in the past, resources cannot be juggled around, officials said, in reference to past postponing of missions or shifts in personnel.

"We are down to the bare bones," said one commander.

Spain has reduced the number of its international missions in the most dangerous regions, such as Afghanistan and Lebanon. The new major operations in Mali and the Central African Republic will call for fewer troops, with expertise in instruction and transport.

In an effort to look for solutions, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have embarked on a plan to guarantee the continued operation of the armed forces' core structure, the Joint Forces, which will be given priority when it comes to assigning their scarce resources. Numbering 10,000, the Joint Forces only represent about 10 percent of all of Spain's troops.

Admiral Fernando García Sánchez, the head of the joint chiefs, explained the plan will help the armed forces to become more "capable to resolve all problems," and will answer "rapidly and effectively" when required.

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