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Roundtable discussion on urban warfare

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Number: 5034

2nd Conference on 'The Spanish Army and Future Challenges'

The 2nd Conference “The Spanish Army and Future Challenges”, devoted to analysing the human dimension of conflict – and more specifically, urban conflict –, came to an end on 8 March with a speech by the Chief of the Army Staff, Army General Jaime Domínguez Buj, in the Promotions Hall of the Army War College, in Madrid.

In order of intervention, speakers were: General González-Valerio, Chief of the Army Staff Operations Division; Juan Díez, research professor in Social Sciences and Security at the European University of Madrid; and Lieutenant-General Varela, Commander of the Land Force. The roundtable was moderated by Brigadier General Miguel Ángel Ballesteros Martín, director of the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies.

The first speaker addressed issues such as the Third Offset Strategy (US doctrine which advocates exploiting technological superiority) and the Hearts and Mind Campaign (aimed at gaining the support of the civilian population during operations). “It is not about military conquest, but about gaining support by carrying out certain actions and prioritising the emotional dimension,” he explained.

Next, Juan Díez presented the results of several research studies which show that Spaniards are not worried about the possibility of an armed conflict or a terrorist attack (in spite of the previous attack on 11 March 2004 and of the instability in North Africa), and that few are concerned about the need to defend their country. “Both facets are interrelated and have been affected by the end of conscription,” he stated.

Finally, Lieutenant-General Varela defined the future setting of operations: “It will be a space characterised by overpopulation in urban centres, especially on the coast, where it will be difficult to tell apart friend from foe. In addition, it will be a highly disputed space in which we will all be technologically connected.” He also highlighted that the armies of Western countries will be subject to greater limitations than other conflict actors.

After the end of the third talk, Lieutenant-General Juan Campíns, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, presented some general conclusions. The Chief of the Army Staff then thanked participants and attendees and invited them to next year’s edition of the Conference.

Speakers during the second day of the Conference

Speakers during the second day of the Conference (Photo: Miguel Renuncio/MIC)