In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Admiral Jaime Muñoz-Delgado y Díaz del Río
The world is characterized by rapid and constant changes that can create unstable and unpredictable scenarios. New emerging powers are consolidating their place in a multipolar globe. This interconnected world demands a comprehensive approach among multiple actors, civil and military, to face challenges and threats. Spain, as a maritime nation greatly reliant on sea trade and geographically located at a crossroads of key maritime routes, wishes to promote a stable world and a safe, secure sea.
The Spanish Navy is in a permanent transformation process, adjusting its policies and prioritizing its capabilities. The Navy contributes to the Spanish Joint Force, designed to be mission oriented, more capable and ready, to be employed when and where national interests demand. We aim to be a balanced, technically well-equipped, versatile, efficient, expeditionary, adaptive, and resilient navy.
Furthermore, the Spanish Navy intends to be highly interoperable with our allies and partners. NATO, which remains the cornerstone alliance for our nation, grants this interoperability through common doctrine and procedures, as demonstrated in multinational scenarios such as the operations against piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Budget cuts demand that Spain undertake other imaginative solutions. Cooperation with allied and partner navies may provide opportunities to cope with capability and training needs, as is the case of the relationship with the Australian and Dutch navies. “Pooling and sharing” in the EU framework and cooperation with the national defense industry are also important tools.
The emergence of a hybrid threat where irregular warfare and cyber warfare may co-exist with the use of advanced stand-off weapons—including the potential employment of weapons of mass destruction—is shaping the battle space within which navies are required to operate. The transatlantic link enables allies to face these demanding threats, and Spain contributes to the allied ballistic-missile-defense capability (BMD) by hosting the U.S. Navy Aegis destroyer deployment at the Rota naval base, while the possibility of fitting the Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates with BMD capability in the future is not ruled out.
Lessons learned in real-world operations show that military capabilities are in transition toward more subtle forces, requiring a minimum footprint on the ground. This confirms the need to strengthen amphibious and maritime special-warfare capabilities. Similarly, current scenarios, like the fight against piracy, prove the importance of maritime-security operations. The recently commissioned series of Buque de Acción Marítima or maritime action vessels, has succeeded in meeting the operational requirements for the full range of maritime security in the most efficient way.
The conceptual design of the F110 frigate, whose commission is envisaged for the early 2020s, bears in mind these global trends and therefore seeks to incorporate innovative solutions and new technologies in a versatile and flexible design to accomplish the wide array of missions entrusted to the Spanish Navy.