2016-03-05 The Spanish Navy along with other European and NATO navies are engaged in operations in the Mediterranean in support of the fight against ISIS as well as dealing with the migration crisis.
In these photos, credited to the Spanish Ministry of Defense, Pedro Morenés, the Spanish Defense Minister, is seen onboard the Juan Carlos off of the Cadiz coast on February 23, 2016.
Credit: Spanish Ministry of Defense
In the following interview by Esteban Villarego conducted in the Fall of 2015 and published in Defense News on November 3, 2015, the Minister provides insight into his views.
For four years, Pedro Morenés has led Spain’s Defense Ministry through a budget-cutting period that started in 2009. However, Spain has continued to play a role in international military missions — in Lebanon, wearing UN helmets; in the Indian Ocean, operating under the European Union; in Turkey under NATO command; in Senegal and Gabon, supporting French air operations in Mali and the Central African Republic; and in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition there. It has also signed two agreements with the US to host four Aegis destroyers at Rota Navy Base and a special US Marine Corps unit at Moron Air Base in Spain.
[Defense News interviewed Morenés several days before the Oct. 27 withdrawal of Spanish troops from Afghanistan.]
Now the Spanish Ministry of Defense has announced two new major programs, the 8×8 armored vehicle and new frigates; and an initial budget to purchase four MQ-9 Reaper drones….
What is the main threat which Spain faces from the national defense point of view?
Without a doubt, terrorism is the most important. We fight terrorism from Afghanistan to the Central African Republic or Mali in different ways. We still have a lot to do.
In addition, there are other serious threats: those that are affecting our allies in NATO. We belong to two political and military organizations, the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance, and the risk of our allies is our peril…..
You met with the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in October. How can the US and Spain strengthen their defense relationship with the four US Navy Aegis destroyers at Rota and the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force at Morón de la Frontera Air Base?
Our relations with the US have improved dramatically the last four years.
Firstly, we need to share military intelligence elements linked with the enormous capacity of the US to obtain certain information. That is essential to build a trust between two countries, which share a common goal: peace and stability around the world.
Secondly, we must identify common risks and threats, like the instability of North Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.
Thirdly, we need to integrate as much as possible our operational skills to multiply our capacity to respond.
Finally, we could develop together industrial and technological capabilities with some agreements between companies.
Do you mean the possibility of joint ventures or mergers between some American and Spanish companies?
For example, the possibility that Spanish tech companies could contribute to develop some fields of the defense industry of the United States; or, perhaps, we continue hosting technological capabilities developed by the US and could be used as a common exporter.
Spanish shipbuilder Navantia is on the short list to win a contract from the Royal Australian Navy to build two auxiliary oiler and replenishment ships. Are you optimistic?
Defense contract programs of this kind need a long time to materialize but I hope it can be achieved. We will see it very soon…..