Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dimensions of the Catalan Defence Forces III: The Army






The following is an English-language executive summary of the 29 July 2014 report by the former Catalan National Assembly's Defence Policy Working Group, now Military Studies Society, outlining the possible shape and composition of the reconstituted Catalan Army. The full, unabridged, report is also available in English.

Preliminary considerations

* This document is not a final blueprint on the dimensions and hardware of Catalonia's Army, but an outline proposal.

* The text starts from scratch concerning hardware and personnel, making no reference to possible assets to be inherited from Spain's Defence Ministry or to Spanish military personnel wishing to join the Catalan Defence Forces.

* To avoid duplicities and redundant capabilities, the Catalan Defence Forces will have a single Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing together elements from the three forces (land army, air force, and navy).


First stage: building the force's backbone

In five years time the backbone of the Catalan Defence Forces' Army must be operational, comprising the General Staff, a military academy, and the first battalion-size combat unit with the necessary support units. The staff of the Military Academy in charge of the higher courses will come from civilian experts in strategic analysis, some Catalan, but to a great extent foreign advisors, both civilian and military (retired higher officers). To train troops, foreign advisors, retired NCOs from prestigious units with operational experience, will be employed.


As soon as the first core of officers, and above all NCOs, has been trained, it will be time to create the Army's first combat battalion, comprising four infantry companies, with a total strength of 600. With a view toward the Army's growth, each company will specialize in a different field: mechanized, aerial assault, amphibious, and mountain operations. Equipment should comply with NATO standards in order to facilitate interoperability with Allies.

Hardware needs will be:

- Mechanized infantry company: 12 wheeled IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle), 4 command vehicles, and 6 vehicles serving as weapons platforms (105 mm guns or 120 mm mortars).

- Air assault infantry company: At this stage, transport vehicles.

- Amphibious infantry company: 10 light inflatable craft and 2-4 fast assault craft, belonging to the Naval Force and organically attached together with their crews to this company. Transport vehicles.

- Mountain infantry company: Transport vehicles and mountain gear.

It will also be necessary to establish a combat support battalion comprising a support artillery battery, an engineer company, a signals company, and an intelligence company.

- The Artillery battery will be equipped with 6-8 modern self-propelled medium howitzers, such as France's CAESAR and Sweden's Archers.

- The Engineer company will be in charge of enabling our forces to be mobile, preventing the enemy's mobility, and handling explosives. At this first stage it will be equipped with earthworks and heavy equipment, as well as bomb-defusing robots and explosive-sniffing dogs. The Mossos d'Esquadra's (Catalan Police) TEDAX-NRBQ Division is already experienced in this field.


Organically under the Joint Chiefs of Staff but operationally attached to the Army, there will be:

- Signals company: in addition to our own communications, responsible for intercepting, interfering, and jamming those of the enemy. The expertise of Catalan universities and corporations in the telecommunications industry will facilitate its establishment.

- Intelligence company: tasked with gathering, organizing, and analysing all necessary information in order to advise commanders in their decision making with regard to present and future operations. Staff will include specialists in strategic analysis (political scientists, economists, geographers, sociologists) and in cartography, meteorology, psychology, and linguistics.

A combat support service corps will be established directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comprising logistics, medical, maintenance, and administrative, personnel, and general services units. A future document will describe it in detail.




Second stage: expanding in line with international standards

In a further 10 to 15 years the initial core should roughly quadruple in size, with each combat company becoming a battalion, brought together in a combat brigade. In line with British practice, single-battalion regiments may be established, recovering the historical name of some Catalan units from different eras, with the goal of reinforcing their personality and esprit de corps.

The combat support battalion and the combat support service corps will expand in the same ratio, to be able to support combat units four times their previous size. Reserve units will be established with a dual purpose. First, to connect with genuinely Catalan self-defence institutions such as Princeps namque (XI Century constitutional principle whereby all able-bodied men could be called upon to defend king and country and therefore had a right, later duty, to keep arms) and the part-time militia “Sagramentals” and “Sometent”, thereby providing military capabilities to a significant sector of citizens committed to safeguarding the life, liberty, and civil rights, of their fellow citizens, as well as to defend the existence of the state itself. Second, in line with fellow maritime democracies, to lay down flexible defence structures able to quickly expand in a variety of scenarios.


A brief note about the reserve forces

We would like to stress the need to bring back the idea, belonging to the most genuine Republicanism, of the right of citizens to defend themselves. An idea born in Ancient Greece in parallel with democracy, and which the French and above all the American Revolution brought back. Until Catalonia's defeat in 1714 and subsequent annexation, the Catalan Constitution contained the right of Catalans to bear and openly carry arms, as a symbol that they were free men, citizens, as opposed to serfs or slaves.

Having a significant portion of citizens combining a civilian life with military duties fits with our country's strong volunteering tradition. It makes defence forces permeable to social changes, turning them into an image of the society which they serve. This prevents the compartmentalization and isolation of the military class from society, and subsequent rise of a “warrior caste” typical of non-democratic societies and prone to coups.

Societat d’Estudis Militars – Military Studies Society














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