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PLAYING THE ARMY GAME

Leopard 2

Following on from our recent look at how the Spanish Ministry of Defence has cut back on battleships during the crisis, data also reveals how they have also seen a significant change in personnel.

In the 2014 national budget, the government has allowed for payment of 79,000 troops, 9,400 less than 4 years ago. According to the Minister who leads the department, Pedro Morenés, the armed forces had a total of 121,754 active personnel on the first day of 2014, nearly 1,600 less than last year.

The most substantial downsizing has occurred in the army and navy, which had 76,699 troops at the start of the year, nearly 2,000 less than in 2013, and a figure far below the 86,112 soldiers and sailors who were counted on the 1st of January, 2010.

The reduction is consistent with effective ministry plans to launch a “cyclical reduction” of members of the Armed Forces, as announced by Morenés, shortly after taking up his post.

Despite the reduction, the minister is still adamant that should the need arise, spain is capable of summoning between 110,000 and 120,000 troops to serve, all “well equipped and in response to new threat scenarios”, he said.

But whilst all of these cutbacks are going ahead, the potential savings are being counteracted by accusations of waste, mismanagement and kickbacks.

Only this week, it was revealed that spain had spent in excess of 2 billion euro for 219 tanks from a German company, which experts say are “incompatible with mountainous and hilly terrains”, such as the landscape of Spain.

According to military sources who contacted a politically motivated association who highlight such issues, senior officers of the defence ministry, which may include King Juan Carlos, took up to 26% commission on the purchase of up to 219 Leopard 2 tanks that are “absolutely inadequate to the defence of the peninsula”, manufactured by the German company, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann.

A similar situation came to light in Greece in December, when a judge jailed 78 year old Dimitris Papachristos, who represented German arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann, in a case that saw at least 10 high-level military officers implicated in a corruption scandal in just months after former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos was sentenced to 20 years in prison on corruption charges.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42233/

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