Spain MILITARY COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
The Pact of Madrid, signed in 1953 by Spain and the United States, ended a period of virtual isolation for Spain, although the other victorious allies of World War II and much of the rest of the world remained hostile to what they regarded as a fascist regime sympathetic to the Nazi cause and established with Axis assistance. The 1953 accord took the form of three separate executive agreements that pledged the United States to furnish economic and military aid to Spain. The United States, in turn, was to be permitted to construct and to utilize air and naval bases on Spanish territory.
Although not a full-fledged military alliance, the pact did result in a substantial United States contribution to the improvement of Spain's defense capabilities. During the initial United States fiscal year (FY--see Glossary) 1954 to FY1961 phase, military aid amounted to US$500 million, in grant form. Between FY1962 and FY1982, a further US$1.238 billion of aid in the form of loans (US$727 million) and grants (US$511 million) was provided. During the period FY1983 to FY1986, United States military aid, entirely in the form of sales under concessional credit terms, averaged US$400 million annually, but it declined to slightly more than US$100 million annually in FY1987 and in FY1988. The military credits were scheduled to be phased out in FY1989, in keeping with Spain's growing self-sufficiency in national defense. More than 200 Spanish officers and NCOs received specialized training in the United States each year under a parallel program.
Although Spain had purchased some military equipment from countries other than the United States, and although some officers had received training in other countries, the only major foreign influence on the Spanish military between the end of World War II and Franco's death in 1975 had been the United States. After the democratic regime was installed in 1976, the United States continued to be Spain's predominant partner in military cooperation, in spite of that country's growing involvement with France and with other West European countries. Between 1982 and 1986, the value of arms shipments to Spain from the United States totaled US$725 million. France was the second ranking supplier (US$310 million), and West Germany was third (US$50 million).
As of 1988, there were 12,000 United States military personnel in Spain, at four major bases and at several smaller communications and navigation facilities. The legal status of the American military personnel and their dependents was governed by status of forces accords that were similar to the standard NATO status of forces agreements. One of the major bases was the naval complex at Rota near Cadiz, northwest of the Strait of Gibraltar, which provided fuel and ammunition storage facilities for American forces. It was also a naval air base supporting antisubmarine warfare and ocean surveillance operations. Rota was the site of a United States Defense Communications System (DCS) terminal tied to a number of radar and microwave stations throughout Spain, with further linkage to DCS sites elsewhere in the Mediterranean, that remained in continuous contact with the United States Sixth Fleet.
The United States shared with Spain the use of three airbases: Torrejon, just east of Madrid; Zaragoza, in northeast Spain; and Moron, near Seville (Spanish, Sevilla) in southwest Spain. Torrejon was the headquarters of the Sixteenth Air Force of United States Air Forces, Europe (USAFE). A tactical fighter wing of seventy-two F-16 aircraft at Torrejon was rotated to other USAFE airbases at Aviano, Italy, and at Incirlik, Turkey. Torrejon was, in addition, a staging, reinforcement, and logistical airlift base.
Zaragoza was the base for a detachment of five United States aerial refueling aircraft, and it also was used by USAFE as a tactical fighter training base. It was located near Spain's Bardenas Reales firing range, where gunnery and bombing techniques could be practiced. Moron served as a support base for units of USAFE, including a detachment of fifteen aerial refueling aircraft.
Torrejon, Zaragoza, and Moron were built initially as bases for Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-47 bombers, which had a relatively limited range. After the B-47s were phased out, SAC no longer needed the bases, but they continued to serve useful functions for airlift, communications, resupply, rear basing, and fighter training in conjunction with the NATO obligations of the United States.
As the time approached in 1987 for the renegotiation of the existing base agreement, which had entered into force in 1983 for a five-year period, pressures mounted for a reduction of the United States military presence in Spain. Communist political groups and elements of the PSOE had campaigned against the bases. Moreover, the base agreement had become a symbol of United States cooperation with the former Franco regime. It was important to many Spaniards to eliminate vestiges of this history by converting Spain's long-standing bilateral relations with the United States into a multilateral undertaking through NATO. According to a poll taken in early 1987, 53 percent of Spanish citizens regarded the bases as prejudicial to the security and the defense of Spain, and 47 percent thought they should be removed.
The outcome of the 1986 referendum on membership in NATO committed Gonzalez to negotiate the reduction of the United States military presence in Spain. Gonzalez insisted that the wing of seventy-two F-16 aircraft be removed from Torrejon as a condition for renewal of the base agreement, and he threatened to expel all United States forces in Spain if this demand were not accepted. His stand was considered unduly inflexible by the United States and inconsistent with an earlier Spanish commitment that the level of security would be left intact. The United States felt that Spain, the military contribution of which was minimal, was permitting domestic factors to dictate a weakening of NATO defenses. Even though Italy subsequently agreed to station the F-16 wing on its territory, the cost of transfer would be high, and the unit would be in a more exposed position.
In January 1988, Spain and the United States announced jointly that agreement had been reached in principle on a new base agreement with an initial term of eight years, essentially meeting the conditions demanded by Spain. The F-16 fighter wing was to be removed from Torrejon within three years, by mid-1991. It was expected that this step would reduce the number of United States personnel in Spain by nearly one-half.
Use by the United States of the bases in Spain for non-NATO purposes was a matter requiring Spanish approval, which was not likely to be forthcoming unless the mission had Spain's endorsement. In keeping with its policy of avoiding involvement in the Arab-Israeli dispute, Spain withheld diplomatic clearance for the United States to use the bases to resupply Israel during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Gonzalez reportedly was approached indirectly regarding the possible use of the Spanish bases and overflights of Spain in connection with the United States raid on Libya in April 1986. His negative response necessitated a long detour over international waters by the aircraft flying from British bases. One of the American fighter-bombers was forced to make an emergency landing at Rota, however. Gonzalez defended the landing as consistent with the provisions of the base agreement, in spite of the criticism that it evoked in Spain.
Data as of December 1988
NOTE: The information regarding Spain on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Spain MILITARY COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Spain MILITARY COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.