Fewer Soldiers More Technology

The Spanish Armed Forces are immersed in a new period of transformation precipitated by the latest economic crisis (the budget was reduced by 32% in 2008-2015) and the new technological leap of digitization, robotics and connectivity.

The latest reports clearly indicate how, despite these budget cuts, the military bodies are still able to ensure future protection, With a goal that can be summed up with the findings of a study project aimed at “fewer soldiers, more technology”, which has been launched by the Planning Division of the army, who have decided that the charismatic and highly skilled Legion would be designated as an experimental unit which will pave the way for the new Army of 2035.

“Its main characteristic will be its technological base that allows greater combat power with fewer personnel,” sources from the Spanish Army said, which closed last year with 74,619 troops. In total, the Armed Forces have 117,760 (Armada contributes 20,094, Air, 20,131, and Common Corps, 2,916).

And with how many troops would that army of the year 2035 have? «Between 2,600 and 2,800 soldiers». That is, around 500-800 fewer troops than at present.

The army project is called “Experimental Brigade 2035” and will enter its experimental phase in November: for example, they will begin to test the future vehicle of the army, known as “Vehículo de Combate sobre Ruedas 8×8”, which should replace the current BMR, and whose first prototypes are already being built. The experimentation phase is scheduled to end in the second half of 2019.

The rise of remotely piloted aerial systems will be another of the backbone of the project. The Army already has some models among its units such as the Searcher Mk-IIJ or the Raven for tasks primarily aimed at Intelligence and used in missions such as Afghanistan or Mali. Thus, the use of microdrones such as the PD-100 Black Hornet (10 cm long and 2.5 wide), tested by the Special Operations Command and operated with a “tablet”, is already being introduced.

The lessons learned from recent conflicts, especially urban and asymmetric, will also be introduced in the army of the future project. The hybrid threat, the underground combat as happened in Mosul or the defence against an attack by swarms of drones will also be analysed.

The so-called “fake news” or false news will also be part of the challenge facing the 2035 Brigade project: “Battalion-level or company-level information operation units will be created that will give information and counteract false truths or half-truths, and that must be done at a low level.

But the great reform of the Armed Forces is not confined to the Army. One of the biggest impacts will happen next year when the Air Force receives its first large remotely piloted aircraft, the MQ-9 Reaper, which will operate from the bases of Talavera la Real (Badajoz) and Lanzarote.