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Spanish Army
Ministry of Defence
Spanish Army

Ejército de Tierra

Feature Articles

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Number: 48

Linking the Parts

The objective of these maneuvers was to check on the ground the distinctive capacities of the new Brigade.  It was with these words the Chief of the Brigade “Aragon” I, General Martínez-Falero, summarized the principal motivation of the “Isla Mínima” exercise, that took place from the 2nd to the 9th of June in the Maneuvers Field “San Gregorio” (Zaragoza).

It involved the first of the exercises with a major entity that carried out the “Arágon” starting from its creation, the 1st of January 2017 with the presence of all units. Some are heirs to the missing Cavalry Brigade while others from the extinct Mountain Troop Headquarters.

This diverse inheritance contains another distinctive feature, which distinguishes this Brigade from the others in that it has been created with a new structure: its geographical dispersion.  While it´s not the only that counts on some units located out of the main position – for example, the “Guadarrama” has a Cavalry Group in Valladolid, or the “Almogávares” in Valencia which has most of its´components distributed throughout the Peninsula. Although the majority is in Zaragoza, the “Galicia” Regiment maintains its´ headquarters in Jaca, and “Arapiles” divides its´ Battalions between San Clemente de Sasebas (Gerona) and Barcelona.

 

Isla Mínima Exercise

“Isla Mínima” Exercise

De ahí que el reto de la integración resulte todavía mayor en su caso, al igual que la trascendencia de un ejercicio que ha logrado reunirlas a todas en poco más de 34.000 hectáreas, con la salvedad de una parte de los miembros del “Galicia”, que participaron pero desde el Pirineo oscense; una de sus secciones fue helitransportada hasta Zaragoza para el ejercicio final. Ellos actuaron en un escenario secundario dentro de un «ejercicio de ofensiva en el que un país sufre una agresión de otro vecino y una fuerza multinacional tiene que intervenir para devolverlo a sus fronteras y frenar una limpieza étnica y los riesgos de ataques NBQ», explicaba el teniente coronel Parrado, jefe de Estado Mayor de la BrigadaTherefore, in this case the Integration Challenge seems even larger, equal in importance to an exercise that managed to join all units in little more than 34,000 hectares, that participated, with the exception of some of the members from “Galicia”, - from the Huesca Pyrenees; where one of its´sections was transported by helicopter to Zaragoza for the final exercise.  They participated in a support scenario of an “offensive exercise in which the country suffers an aggression from a neighboring country and Multinational Forces have to intervene in order to return the control of their borders - stop an ethnic cleansing and risk from NBQ attacks”, all explained by Lieutenant Colonel Parrado, Chief of the Brigade Staff..

 

The 'Aragón' I Brigade will carry out their first large exercise and meet in 'San Gregorio' with all units.

 

The importance of the "Isla Minima" exercise can also be qualified by the quantity of support received: helicopters from the Army Aeromobile Forces (that transport a section of Skiers - Climbers from Huesca), planes from the Air Force, small teams from the 31st Electronic Warfare Regiment, experts from the 1st NBC Regiment or some components from the 1st Civic-Military Co-operation Battalion.

 

Unique Parts

Inside the 64th Mountain Troops Infantry Regiment "Galicia", the only which has maintained this denomination following the re-organization, is found in the Skier-Climber Company. All of which are Mountain qualified and all Troop personnel count on Skier-Climber preparation implying they dominate certain ski techniques, climbing or mountain movement in summer and winter.  For them, the integration in the Brigade has permitted them to “rely on much more support, because they´re ours”, explained their Chief, Captain Acuña. In turn, they contribute their abilities in obtaining information and deep understanding, even in the most isolated places. For that, they count on a Support Weapons Section very personalized, capable of “obtaining information in real time and its transmission via radio” assures Lieutenant García Galindo, its Chief, and with materials such as radio transmision in which the connection is guaranteed.

 

Support in the New Era

The fact that there exists a Unit inside the Brigade with these characteristics has implied for those who lend support, a transformation. For example, for the artillerymen of the 20th Artillery Regiment who are used to working exclusively with Cavalry Units now have colleagues amongst them “Infantry Combat Units, and some as well are from Mountain Units”, highlighted the Chief of I/20 Artillery Group, Lieutenant Colonel Heredero.  This assumes that part of the personnel have had to acquire Mountain aptitude.

Isla Mínima Exercise

First practice of Light Gun External Cargo for the GACA I/20

In addition, the reconstruction has provided new materials such as: Light Gun Battery which now resides with the M-109 Self-propelled cannons.  A notable difference between these two materials, one of which has wheels, and the other, chains, in order to put the first in position requires “a much larger physical effort because it is all manual work” assures the Chief of the 3rd Battery, Captain Lerín.

Much like them, components of the 1st Combat Engineers Battalion to prepare themselves, will continue receiving, progressively, new materials like Combat Engineer tanks, Infantry materials and Infantry Vehicles "Pizarros", earth-moving machines or armored vehicle bridge launchers.  In this exercise, the biggest challenge was “the bridge crossing of various Units and management of the adjustment and maintenance operations”, indicated Major De Lucas.

 

First Important Departure

Isla Mínima Exercise

These maneuvers have also been a crucial test for those Infantry Vehicles "Pizarro" of "Badajoz"

Isla Mínima Exercise

In this final exercise all vehicles participated, including army tanks "Leopardos” del Flandes"

For the different components of the "Badajoz" Battalion, this exercise was the first occasion that left with the entire "Pizarros" Company.  Serving to make the crew aware of the importance in maintaining the vehicles well and that times have changed.  “In Light Infantry it´s take the gear and go, but with vehicles patience is necessary because the vehicle has to be ready first”, explained Soldier Domínguez, updated from Mountain Trooper to "Pizarro" gunner.  The advantage is that many components from the Battalion are soldiers that in their professional experience have practically only known the “Pizarro”.  In addition, “they are all very motivated, and that has allowed us to extract a whole company from the field in record time”, explained Captain Costa who remembers that the first vehicles arrived at the Battalion not even two months ago.

Considering the case of “Flandes” and the proximity of the maneuvers field, this has made it easier to travel kilometers with the “Leopardos” tanks.  Little by little they arrive at the unit and confirm the conversion from this old Light Infantry Battalion to a Tank Battalion – fitting within the 4th Armored “Pavía” Regiment, principal combat power of the Brigade.

 

 

 

 

Evaluations

Beyond improving the linkage of all parts that comprise the 1st Brigade, this exercise has served as well to evaluate the Motorized Infantry Battalion “Barcelona” II/62 and the Armored Cavalry “Húsares de la Princesa” II/4 in conventional operations.

Fotos: BRI I / Jesús de los Reyes (DECET)