Spain saves its mountain troops

The Spanish Army’s plans to adapt its main combat units to multipurpose brigades (known in Spanish as BOP or Brigadas Orgánicas Polivalentes) is to be partially modified in order to save its mountain troops and to maintain two regiments with mountain combat capacity.

Troops from the Galicia 64 Mountain Regiment (photo credit: Galicia 64 Regiment)

The progressive restructuring and shrinking of the numbers of troops with mountain combat capacity inherent in the adaptation to the BOP structure, led to the disappearance of the Aragón Mountain Troop Command headquartered in Jaca, north-central Spain, whose personnel became part of the new Aragón 1 Brigade on 1 January this year.

But officials have had a re-think concerning the overall restructuring, fortunately still in its very early stages, realising that this loss of mountain combat capacity was not smart. “The process of transforming the Army is a continuous one which is adapted according to requirements and availabilities,” the Army said… somewhat sheepishly.

In the original transformation plan, four units with mountain combat capacity were to be kept. The main force was to be the Galicia 64 Mountain Regiment, centred in Jaca, backed by three much smaller companies attached to the Tercio Viejo de Sicilia 67 Regiment in San Sebastián, the Garellano 45 Regiment in Bilbao and the Arapiles 62 in Barcelona, all cities at the foot of the Pyrenees.

Instead, it has been decided to use the remaining mountain combat know-how left in the América 66 Infantry Regiment based in Azoiáin, just south-west of the Pyrenees (which was in the midst of converting its single Montejurra 1/66 Battalion from a mountain unit to a motorised one) and meld into it the mountain combat capacities of the three companies attached to the regiments mentioned in the paragraph above… even if the only one which has any experience in mountain combat is the Arapiles 62 given that the regiment used to be part of the Mountain Troop Command. The other two are in the initial phases of acquiring mountain combat capacities which obviously represents a big change and much of effort to adapt the doctrine, the methods of instruction, equipment, etc.

With the new plans, the Spanish Army should end up with two highly-experienced units with high mountain combat capacity, the Galicia 64 and América 66 regiments.