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17-02-2017

Spain will provide 300-strong military contingent to take part in battalion to be deployed in Latvia


Spain will provide 300-strong military contingent to take part in battalion to be deployed in Latvia
andaluz.tv
The Minister for Defence, María Dolores de Cospedal, expressed "Spain's interest in participating in an operation that will take place through the deployment of 300 servicemen to form part of a battalion to be deployed in Latvia", following the meeting held with her counterparts from Albania, Canada, Slovenia, Italy, Latvia and Poland on the deployment of advanced troops in Eastern European countries.

​"Furthermore, this military force will be integrated into a mechanised tactical sub-group, with two mechanised units, principally comprising 15 'Pizarro' vehicles and one tank unit with six 'Leopard 2E' vehicles", she added. Accordingly, this will be the first time that Spain provides this level of capabilities to an overseas mission, which is scheduled to be deployed in late May or early June.

In this regard, María Dolores de Cospedal underlined that this deployment of forces is one more example of "Spain's global commitment to NATO".

On another note, the Minister for Defence highlighted that "the stepping up of actions to the south is very important for Spain, in fulfilment of the decisions taken at the Warsaw Summit". María Dolores de Cospedal recalled that "NATO must take action that provides 360-degree cover", not only tackling the challenges from the north, but also the threat from Jihadi terrorism emanating from the south.

During the course of the day, the minister held her first formal meeting with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, to whom she conveyed "Spain's interest in seeing NATO action, as well as being deployed in the east and north, particularly looking to the south" and passed on her "tremendous satisfaction" at the solidarity shown by partners from the north and east of Europe, by way of reciprocity to that shown "as a Mediterranean country" to the collective dissuasive and security measures in the countries of Eastern Europe.

During this meeting, María Dolores de Cospedal also had the opportunity to analyse the revised command structure of NATO with Jens Stoltenberg which, first of all, must be carried out with flexibility. Accordingly, the minister expressed "our interest in NATO's presence and structure in Spain being maintained and, if possible, even being extended and strengthened in the future".

The minister also had the opportunity to greet the new Defense Secretary of the United States, James N. Mattis, to whom she highlighted "the common interest of the United States and Spain on defence issues", and they agreed "to hold meetings in the near future" with the aim of improving Hispano-American relations and achieving positive results.

On another note, the minister went on to highlight Spain's commitment to NATO, recalling Spanish participation in Baltic air policing mission, in the two permanent NATO maritime groups, as well as in the support operation in Turkey with a Patriot missile battery, regarding which she stated that, following a bilateral meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Fikri Işık, and "at the request of both NATO and Turkey", this will remain deployed throughout this year.

María Dolores de Cospedal also referred to the commitment to reach 2% of GDP on defence spending proposed by the US Defense Secretary, James N. Mattis. In this regard, the minister recalled that "this was a commitment made by NATO countries at the Wales Summit", and recalled that "Spain will meet its commitments, as indeed the President of the Government has always maintained".

The minister stressed that "in addition to specific numbers and percentages on spending", it would also be appropriate "to not only talk about the quantitative participation of Spain in NATO, but also its qualitative participation", and, to this end, listed "the re-structuring of our armed forces to make them more effective and efficient, our rapid response and training capabilities, and the intensity with which Spain performs its very important role in NATO missions".

María Dolores de Cospedal closed her briefing of the media by recalling her participation in the meeting of the Global Coalition against DAESH and underlined that "Spain's deployment will include a significant increase in the number of military personnel, as well as Guardia Civil, who will very actively take part in operations to train police officers and training activities in de-mining improvised explosive devices". In this regard, the minister highlighted the proven experience of the Allied Excellence Centre, which has its headquarters in the village of Hoyo de Manzanares on the outskirts of Madrid.


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