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Spanish army
Ministry of Defence
Spanish army

Ejército de Tierra

Feature Articles

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Number: 53

Twinning units without borders

Hermandad sin fronteras


In the historical play "Henry V" by William Shakespeare, the Monarch mentions the expression "band of brothers" (banda de hermanos in Spanish) in his stirring speech to his troops before the Azincourt Battle, during the Hundred Years' War. By mentioning that, he wanted to clarify that those who fight together, whatever their conditions are, create an invisible bond that joins them as if they were brothers. This is the idea that has inspired, in a military level, the twinning programme established by the Spanish Army with other units from allied countries; the main intention of this conception is to consolidate bonds and to increase interoperability.

The necessity of knowing how things are conducted in other armies reached its peak as a consequence of the Spanish participation in international missions, working side by side with other military units from other countries. This experience took them to prefer bilateral activities and combined exercises.

Nowadays, with this twinning programme, tied to the reorganization of the Spanish Army, what can be get is to give another oportunity to the intention of gaining more international facilities through the fraternity of each Spanish Brigade with units from other countries. "We realized that it was better to specialize Brigades out of countries", pointed out Lieutenant Colonel Billón, from the Section of International Matters from the Spanish Army's Staff Planning Division, in order to explain the reasons why each Spanish unit had been assigned with a "sister" away from our borders. With these "sister" units the relationships are encouraged through reunions, meetings and instruction activities, which are the cornerstone of this programme: to work in operations' areas in the same way they have been instructed.

With some units, the relationships are more developed, reaching the notion of "twinning". With others, it is still a work in progress whilst the rest are yet at their beginnings.



11th Brigade "Extremadura" - Mechanised Brigade from Portugal

11th Brigade "Extremadura" - Mechanised Brigade from Portugal

The twinning in between the 11th Brigade "Extremadura" and the Mechanised Brigade from the Portuguese Army was widely expected, not only because of their geographical proximity that makes easier the exchanges with a reduced economic cost, but also because the relationship in between both units has been intensified during this time. In fact, on May 2016, it took place the first participation of a Spanish Unit - specifically speaking, a Tactic Mechanised subgroup - at "Orión", an annually joint exercise leaded by the Land Forces' Officers and NCOs (Non-commissioned officers) of the Portuguese Army. A year after, the 23rd of May 2017, it was signed the twinning document. At the same time, at the manoeuvre field "Santa Margarida", in the frame of the exercise "Eficacia", one of the most important fire support of the Portuguese Artillery, deployed a battery of Field Artillery Group 11th. For the rest of the year, it is expected the presence of the Portuguese Delegations at the exercises of simulator-tower of tanks and of Steel Beasts, both of them placed at "General Menacho" base, to prepare the next multi-national exercise "Allied Spirit". In 2018, the idea is to repeat the participation in the most important exercises, to celebrate these days of procedure exchanges for commands and to set a date for the twinning act. 


The Army Airmobile Force (FAMET in Spanish) - Aviation Légère from France

The Army Airmobile Force (FAMET in Spanish) - Aviation Légère from France

The case of the Air-mobile Forces of the Army (FAMET in Spanish) is a peculiar one; even thought it is not a Brigade, it has been included at the twinning programme, due to the increasing demand of helicopters' use in international missions. In fact, its signature was the first one to be materialized (the 29 of January, 2016), apart from being the unit that has been twinned with the Aviation
Légère of the French Army. This twinning relationship consisted on observators' exchanges, inter-operability tasks, exchange activities, the improvement of the French and the Spanish linguistic profiles, and also the increase of the knowledge of tactics, techniques and procedures, practices at simulators and  participation in exercises with real deploys, more ambitious each time and with a higher degree of integration. Actually, it is expected to incorporate a subgroup of helicopters before the end of the year, in a real exercise in France within one of its Helicopters' Regiments. Concurrently, the activities of interoperability have continued with ships belonging to the National French Navy (exercises from the series "Dixmude"). Since they began in 2015, there have been six collaborations, which have allowed the evolution from initial landings and takeoffs to boardings of various days, immediate refuelings, external loadings or heli-transports to land of boarding units.



Legion Brigade - 6th Light Armoured Brigade from France

Legion Brigade - 6th Light Armoured Brigade from France

The signature of the Legion's Brigade with the 6th Light Armoured Brigade of the French Army is yet waiting to be settled down in short-terms, although the relationships are already established. At tactic level, for the rest of the year, it is expected the presence of French military units in the exercise "Chinchilla" and in activities oriented to underground combats. In 2018 a huge number of varied exercises for Spanish linguistic immersions have been prepared.





Brigade "Aragón"  - Mechanised Brigade "Pinerolo" from Italy

 Brigade "Aragón"  - Mechanised Brigade "Pinerolo" from Italy

1st Brigade "Aragón" and the Mechanised Brigade "Pinerolo", the first one completely digitised from the Italian Army, are very close to settle down their twinning. By the middle of October, an Italian delegation will travel to Zaragoza and will attend to a dynamic adn static material demostration. In that meeting, it is expected to include the personnel's exchanges for the mutual knowledge and for the participation in the exercises.







7th Brigade "Galicia"  - British Army

7th Brigade "Galicia"  - British Army

The twinning relationship established in between the 7th Brigade "Galicia" and English Army's units would be adapted to the English request, according to its programme "Bonds of Friendship" in the exchange of Officers and NCOs. However, it will be prioritized the activities with units in that country. In fact, for the next dates, it is expected the participation of Spanish soldiers in a combat exercise at Brecon Forest (Gales) or the instruction of a British patrol in the "Iberian Sun".



6th Brigade "Almogavares"- United States Army

6th Brigade "Almogavares"  - United States Army

6th Brigade "Almogávares"  has yet a pending twinning with the United States' units, although they have worked together in many occasions at organised exercises by the own Brigade, or in other maximun-level exercises such as the "Trident Juncture", in which the American and the Spanish paratroopers jumped together. Health Service Brigade is also looking for twinning relationships with units inside of the healthy frame from this country.





12th Brigade "Guadarrama"  - German Army

12th Brigade "Guadarrama"  - German Army

12th Brigade "Guadarrama" is looking for its "sister" in the German Army, although the signtaure is still a work in progress. The interest to join the Brigade with a German unit comes, basically, from the great experience on armoured-units of this Brigade and its deep knowledge of Leopard tanks, without forgetting that they are the Spanish version of the German Leopard tanks.







16th Brigade "Canarias" - Mauritanian Army

16th Brigade "Canarias" - Mauritanian Army

16th Brigade "Canarias" has not its twinning materialised yet, but it conducts activities with the Mauritanian Army such as the exchange of companies that are instructed during one week in Fuerteventura and Mauritania, respectively. The last one was on September: a tactic sub-group from the Brigade,
with vehicles and material in Nouadibouh, and 70 Mauritanian soldiers in Fuerteventura.






10th Brigade "Guzmán el Bueno" - Algerian Army

10th Brigade "Guzmán el Bueno" - Algerian Army

Since 2015, 10th Brigade "Guzmán el Bueno" keeps in touch with the Algerian Army. This year a bigger step has been taken with the visit, taking place in May, of a Spanish section to the Algerian Army's Infantry Academy, in order to get closer to its structure and material, and to the exchange of procedures; and another one in September, by an Algerian section to "Cerro Muriano", in order to test the simulators and the combat zone that the base has.