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Spanish army
Ministry of Defence
Spanish army

Ejército de Tierra

Chief of the Army Staff

Idioma español Idioma inglés Idioma portugués Idioma francés Idioma italiano Idioma alemán

Biography of General Francisco Javier Varela Salas:

The Chief of Staff of the Army was born in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) in 1952, and comes from the Infantry branch.

He received his commission as an Infantry first lieutenant at the General Military Academy of Zaragoza in 1978 and was assigned to the 41st Special Operations Company in Barcelona. He remained with this unit through his promotion to captain until he was assigned to the Mountain Warfare and Special Operations School. In 1990 he graduated from the Army Staff College and, during his time as a major and lieutenant colonel, was posted as a staff officer to the Rapid Reaction Force and the Spanish Legion’s Special Forces Battalion.

Upon his promotion to colonel in 2005, he was assigned to the Operations Command (Spanish Defense Staff) and then to the Light Forces Headquarters. In June 2009, he was promoted to general and took command of the Spanish Legion’s Brigade “Rey Alfonso XIII” until February 2011.

From November 2011 until July 2014, Major General Varela served as the Commander of the Light Forces Command.

In July 2014, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned as the Land Force Commander until February 2016 when he was named Commander of the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Spain HQs in Bétera (Valencia).  In March 2017, he was promoted to General and named the Chief of Staff of the Army.

General Varela´s deployments include an expedition to Antarctica in 1987/1988, a 1992 United Nations mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina as UNPROFOR staff officer, 2 KFOR deployments to Kosovo (1999 and 2001) and in the Romeo-Alfa mission to Herat, Afghanistan in 2008.

The General is a Staff College graduate and is certified in Special Operations and Airborne Unit Command, Combat Diver and Main Battle Tank Chief Specialist. Additionally, he completed the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course and the PSYOPS Officer Course.

He has served as an instructor at the Mountain Warfare and Special Operations School.

His awards include: the Great Cross of Military Merit (White Ribbon); the Great Cross of the Order of the Guardia Civil Merit; the Royal and Military Order of San Hermenegildo´s Great Cross, Plaque, Commendation and Cross; the Cross of Naval Merit (White Ribbon); and eight Crosses of Military Merit (White Ribbon). He has also been distinguished with two Honorific Mentions as well as several individual and collective commendations.

His foreign decorations include the United Nations Medal (UNPROFOR) and two NATO Medals (KFOR and ISAF).

General Varela is fluent in English language (NATO S.L.P. 4.4.4.4).

He is married with five children.

General de Ejército D. Francisco Javier Varela Salas