Spain Military - 2023


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Spanish Armed Forces: Army (Ejército de Tierra), Spanish Navy (Armada Espanola; includes Marine Corps), Air and Space Force (Ejército del Aire y del Espacio); Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) (2023)

note: the Civil Guard is a military force with police duties (including coast guard) under both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior; it also responds to the needs of the Ministry of Finance

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2023 est.)

1.1% of GDP (2022 est.)

1% of GDP (2021)

1% of GDP (2020)

0.9% of GDP (2019)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 120,000 active-duty troops (72,000 Army; 25,000 Navy, including about 5,000 marines; 23,000 Air and Space Force); 80,000 Guardia Civil (2023)

note: a 2007 law established a maximum strength of 130,000 military personnel

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory is comprised of domestically produced and imported Western weapons systems; in recent years, leading suppliers have included France, Germany, and the US; Spain's defense industry manufactures land, air, and sea weapons systems and is integrated within the European defense-industrial sector (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-26 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; 24-36 month initial obligation; women allowed to serve in all branches, including combat units; no conscription (abolished 2001), but the Spanish Government retains the right to mobilize citizens 19-25 years of age in a national emergency; 18-58 for the voluntary reserves (2022)

note 1: as of 2019, women comprised about 13% of the military's full-time personnel

note 2: the military recruits foreign nationals with residency in Spain from countries of its former empire, including Argentina, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela

Military deployments

approximately 200 Iraq (NATO/EU training assistance); up to 600 Latvia (NATO); 650 Lebanon (UNIFIL); approximately 200 Romania (NATO); approximately 500 Mali (EUTM); 150 Turkey (NATO) (2022)

note: in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some NATO countries, including Spain, have sent additional troops and equipment to the battlegroups deployed in NATO territory in eastern Europe

Military - note

Spain joined NATO in 1982 but refrained from participating in the integrated military structure until 1996; the Spanish Marine Corps, established in 1537, is the oldest marine corps in the world; the Spanish Army has an infantry regiment, formed in the 13th century, that is considered the oldest still active military unit in the western world

Spain created a Spanish Legion for foreigners in 1920, but early on the Legion was primarily filled by native Spaniards due to difficulties in recruiting foreigners and most of its foreign members were from the Republic of Cuba; it was modeled after the French Foreign Legion and its purpose was to provide a corps of professional troops to fight in Spain's colonial campaigns in North Africa; in more recent years, it has been used in NATO peacekeeping deployments; today’s Legion includes a mix of native Spaniards and foreigners with Spanish residency (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Spain on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Spain 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Spain 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.