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  • El Ejército combina el esfuerzo de la operación `Balmis´ con la recuperación de las actividades de instrucción y adiestramiento
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The Army combines the efforts of Operation ‘Balmis’ with the recovery of training activities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Number: 7977

La Brigada XVI, en una desinfección

The 16th Brigade taking part in a disinfection

Continúa la vigilancia en Puerto del Rosario

Surveillance in Puerto del Rosario continues

The Army’s main contribution to the fight against the pandemic at this time is the disinfecting of facilities, a task which is being carried out across Spain. For example, staff from the 63rd ‘Barcelona’ Infantry Regiment carried out disinfecting tasks on Sunday in Mercabarna; or the work done by the Headquarters Battalion from the 11th ‘Extremadura’ Brigade in a retirement home in Casar de Cáceres (Cáceres); or that done by the 16th ‘Canary Islands’ Brigade in a social centre in Gran Canaria; al in all, up to a total of 16 different tasks carried out last week. Soldiers, like the 7th Engineering Regiment in Ceuta, have also been cleaning military facilities.

However, they are also still supporting State Law Enforcement in security tasks in critical infrastructure on the border with Morocco, according to the needs of the Police and the Civil Guard. This is the case for the Military Police of the 11th ‘Extremadura’ Brigade, with the National Police in Badajoz, or for members of the 16th ‘Canary Islands’ Brigade, which is providing security in the airport and commercial port in Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura.


The Minister’s appearance

To give an account of the development of all of the Army’s tasks, the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, appeared before the Senate on the 22nd of May. “Contributing to saving lives has been the only objective of the operation and of the Armed Forces in this crisis,” explained the minister. “When the history of this health crisis is written, there will be glorious pages dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Forces.” For this reason, she reiterated her gratitude for the efforts which have been carried out, which she is also doing in person in each of the visits she has made to different units, such as the 1st Transport Group which she visited on the 21st of May.

In addition, she also remembered the almost 20,000 actions in 2,250 towns, 60% of which were disinfections. During this time, 9,621 members of the Armed Forces have been in quarantine, 682 have tested positive and 150 have required hospitalisation. Likewise, two people who tested positive for the virus and 7 people suspected of having it were evacuated from Mali and have now made positive progression.



Beyond the missions which they are entrusted with within the operation, the army units have also wanted to do their bit to alleviate the effects of the health crisis at a social and economic level, for example by working with campaigns that collect non-perishable food. In this way, the 1st ‘Aragón’ Brigade has managed to deliver many kilos of food donated by staff from the Discontinued  ‘San Jorge’ Base to the Zaragoza food bank, the Helicopter Battalion from the 5th Transport has delivered food to a food bank in Colmenar Viejo, and the Helicopter Battalion from the 3rd Manoeuvres delivered food to the food bank in La Rioja.

The Services Unit from the ‘El Empecinado’ Base organised a solidarity race for the collection of food for the Fourth Sub-inspection General of the Army and Cáritas Castrense (a branch of the Cáritas charity set up to help military families in need) in which they managed to collect more than 500 kilos of food. More than 70 people participated, distributed throughout the base and the provinces of Valladolid, Segovia, Palencia, Leon, Madrid and even Iraq (across different routes). The challenge was to complete a six kilometre route in pairs carrying a flag bearing the Spanish coat of arms and the name of the pair’s unit.

Between the units of the Army and the Civil Guard located in the area of the Third Sub-inspection General of the Army, another 1,500 kilos were donated to Cáritas in Badalona.


Training picks up pace again.

Whilst carrying out these tasks related to Operation ‘Balmis’, the units are getting back to their daily routines by carrying out exercises and training activities. As we transition into the new normality, the use of simulation facilities is also increasing, with all necessary prevention methods in use.

In the case of the units of the 7th ‘Galicia’ Brigade within the framework of the 2021 NATO Very High Readiness Force, the objective is to reach the required level to meet this commitment.

A number of other groups have returned to different manoeuvre grounds in recent days: the 10th ‘Bandera Millán Astray’, returned for a training day to ‘Las Navetas’ in Ronda (Málaga); the Anti-tank Defence Company from the ‘Bandera’ from the Headquarters of the 13th ‘King Alphonso’ Brigade, 2nd of the Legion, returned for a night shooting exercise in the manoeuvre ground of Viator; the 16th ‘Castilla’ Regiment of the ‘General Menacho’ base; the Battalion of the Headquarters of the 10th ‘Guzmán el Bueno returned to ‘Cerro Muriano’ with a TOW missile; the 50th  ‘Canary Islands’ returned to ‘La Isleta’ to practice precision shooting; the 54th Group of Regulars returned to the manoeuvre ground to practice combat in urban areas; and the 73rd Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment returned to the ‘Barranco de los Sánchez’ manoeuvre ground in Cartagena.

In recent days, many units have seen the arrival of new troops, who are going through an atypical adaptation phase marked by preventive measures.