Spanish Agencies

State Security / Secretariat Dirección General de Administración de la Seguridad

The transition from Franco's dictatorship to a system of parliamentary democracy was accompanied by a major effort to bring the forces of law and order and the justice system into harmony with the new political era. The police were stripped of most of their military characteristics. The Civil Guard, which maintained order in rural areas and in smaller communities, retained many of its military features, but both the civil Guard and the police were placed under civilian leadership. Once dedicated to repressing all evidence of opposition to the Franco regime, the police and the Civil Guard were expected to tolerate forms of conduct previously banned and to protect individual rights conferred by the 1978 Constitution and by subsequent legislation. Members of the Civil Guard continued to be implicated in cases of mistreatment and brutality in the campaign against Basque terrorism.

National Police Corps / Cuerpo Nacional de Policía

The 1986 organic law unifying the separate uniformed and plainclothes branches of the national police was a major reform that required a considerable period of time to be brought into full effect. The former plainclothes service, known as the Higher Police Corps, but often referred to as the "secret police," consisted of some 9,000 officers. Prior to 1986, it had a supervisory and coordinating role in police operations, conducted domestic surveillance, collected intelligence, investigated major crimes, issued identity documents, and carried out liaison with foreign police forces. The uniformed service was a completely separate organization with a complement of about 50,000 officers, including a small number of female recruits who were first accepted for training in 1984. The Director General of the National Police Corps, a senior official of the Ministry of Interior, commanded 13 regional headquarters, 50 provincial offices, and about 190 municipal police stations. In the nine largest cities, several district police stations served separate sections of the city. The chief of police of each station was in command of both the uniformed and the plainclothes officers attached to the station. A centrally controlled Special Operations Group (Grupo Especial de Operaciones - GEO) was an elite fighting unit trained to deal with terrorist and hostage situations. The principal weapons regularly used by the uniformed police were 9mm pistols, 9mm submachine guns, CETME and NATO 7.62mm rifles, and various forms of riot equipment. The uniform consisted of light brown trousers and dark brown jackets. The initial training phase for recruits to the National Police Corps was nine months, followed by a year of practical training. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, and sergeant major were based on seniority, additional training, and performance. In the Franco era, most police officers were seconded from the army. Under a 1978 law, future police officers were to receive separate training, and army officers detailed to the police were to be permanently transferred. By 1986 only 170 army officers remained in the National Police Corps. Under the 1986 organic law, military-type training for police was to be terminated, and all candidate officers were to attend the Higher Police School at Ávila, which previously had served as the three-year training centre for the Higher Police Corps. The ranks of the plainclothes corps - commissioners, subcommissioners, and inspectors of first, second, and third class were to be assimilated into the ranking system of the uniformed police colonel, lieutenant colonel, major, captain, and lieutenant. Two lower categories subinspection and basic would include all nonofficer uniformed personnel. The newly unified National Police Corps was to be responsible for issuing identity cards and passports, as well as for immigration and deportation controls, refugees, extradition, deportation, gambling controls, drugs, and supervision of private security forces.

Franco's Armed and Traffic Police had once been dreaded as one of the most familiar symbols of the regime's oppressiveness. During the 1980s, however, the police effected an internal transformation, adopting wholeheartedly the new democratic spirit of the times. The police unwaveringly supported the legally constituted government during the 1981 coup attempt. Led by the new police trade union, the police demonstrated in 1985 against right-wing militants in their ranks and cooperated in efforts to punish misconduct and abuses of civil rights by individual officers

Ministry of Interior / Ministerio del Interior

Spain has three levels of security forces. The National Police are responsible for nationwide investigations, security in urban areas, traffic control, and hostage rescue. The Civil Guard polices rural areas and controls borders and highways. Autonomous police forces have taken over many of the duties of the Civil Guard in Galicia, Catalonia, and the Basque country. The security forces are under the effective control of the Government. The security forces also maintain anti-corruption units. The principal forces of public order and security are the Civil Guard and the National Police Corps (Cuerpo Nacional de Policia). The Civil Guard, fortified by nearly a century and a half of tradition, was a highly disciplined paramilitary body with close links to the army. As it evolved, it served mainly as a rural police to protect property and order and to reinforce the authority of the central government. Under Franco, a tripartite system of police was formalized: the Civil Guard in rural areas; the Armed and Traffic Police (renamed the National Police in 1979), which fulfilled normal police functions in communities with a population of more than 20,000; and the Higher Police Corps of plainclothes police with responsibility for investigating crimes and political offences. Separate municipal police forces under the control of local mayors were concerned mainly with traffic control and with enforcement of local ordinances. During the Franco era, the police had been regarded as a reactionary element, associated in the public mind with internal surveillance and political repression. The Civil Guard and the Armed and Traffic Police were legally part of the armed forces, and their senior officers were drawn from the army. The 1978 Constitution effects the separation of the police from the military, and it emphasizes that one of the functions of the police is to safeguard personal liberties. Article 104 of the 1978 Constitution states that, "The Security Corps and Forces, responsible to the Government, shall have as their mission the protection of the free exercise of rights and liberties and the guaranteeing of the safety of citizens." Although considerably delayed, a subsequent statute, the Organic Law on the Security Corps and Forces, was enacted in March 1986 to incorporate the mandate of the Constitution to redefine the functions and the operating principles of the police forces. With its passage, the final legal steps had been taken to make the police system conform to the requirements of the democratic regime, although most observers concluded that it would be years before the reforms were fully in effect.

The new organic law provided a common ethical code for police practices, affirmed trade union rights, recast the role of the judicial police serving under the courts and the public prosecutors, combined the uniformed and the nonuniformed police into the single National Police Corps, and redefined the missions and the chains of command of the various police elements. The Civil Guard remained a separate paramilitary force, although in operational matters it was under the direction of the Ministry of Interior rather than the Ministry of Defence. In time of war or emergency, it would revert to the authority of the minister of defence. In 1986 a new post of secretary of state for security was created in the Ministry of Interior to coordinate the activities of the National Police Corps and the Civil Guard. The National Police Corps functioned under the directives of the director general of the National Police Corps, but local supervision was exercised by civil governors of the provinces where police forces served.

General Commissariat of Intelligence / Comisaría General de Información

The National Police Corps had a General Commissariat of Intelligence, with an antiterrorist mission that included a Foreign Intelligence Brigade to investigate international terrorism aimed against Spain. France and Spain continue to cooperate in bringing to justice members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization, while Spanish authorities have offered to negotiate with Basque groups that foreswear violence. Spanish authorities have arrested, tried, and jailed the leadership of the ETA's political wing, the Herri Batasuna. The Aznar government, which came to power in May 1996, vowed to work diligently to neutralize ETA and has put special emphasis on strengthening cooperation with other states-particularly France-in this effort. In May 1996 press reports indicated that France planned to assign a police attache to its Embassy in Madrid to coordinate daily cooperation with Spain. Moreover, Madrid and Paris signed an agreement in June that allowed for the establishment of four joint police stations-three on the French side of the border. Meanwhile, Spain persuaded France to help reform a European extradition treaty in the European Union to allow "simple membership in an armed band" to be sufficient cause for extradition. Despite numerous Spanish counterterrorism successes and increased international cooperation with France and Latin American countries, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group continues its campaign of murder, bombings, kidnappings, and street violence. ETA killed 13 persons in 1997, as compared to five during 1996. ETA's primary targets remain members of the Spanish security forces and judicial and prison officials, but the group has also stepped up attacks against local politicians belonging to the ruling Popular Party. Madrid struck a blow against the Algerian Armed Islamic Group's (GIA) infrastructure in Spain with the arrest of suspected GIA member Farid Rezgui on 14 June 1996. Rezgui reportedly had some 30 sets of false Italian, French, Spanish, and Algerian identification documents in his possession, presumably for use by GIA members to facilitate their movements in Europe. Authorities reportedly also found magazines published by GIA and other Islamic extremist groups, as well as video and audiocassette tapes of speeches by Islamic leaders, including Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian extremist al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya.

Civil Guard

Patterned after the French rural gendarmerie when it was formed in 1844, the Civil Guard has long maintained its own traditions and style of operation. Until the first civilian director general of the Civil Guard was installed in 1986, its head had been an army lieutenant general. The total complement of the Civil Guard as of 1986 was 65,000; in addition, about 9,000 auxiliary guardsmen performed their military service obligation in the Civil Guard. As of 1998 this nacional law enforcement consists of more than 70.000 members. The Civil Guard was formerly grouped into six zones, matching the six army regions, each commanded by an army brigadier general. These were divided, in turn, into commands coinciding with provincial boundaries and further subdivided into about 300 companies, 800 lines (lineas) corresponding to platoons, and about 3,200 posts. More recently, the Guard has been reorganized into seventeen zones corresponding with the provincial boundaries. A post typically consisted of six to ten guardsmen, headed by a corporal or a sergeant. Posts were responsible for organizing two-member patrols to police their areas, generally by automobile. To deploy forces more flexibly, this traditional system had been augmented by radio-controlled mobile patrols of three or more members. A separate traffic group patrolled the main roads to assist in cases of breakdown or accident. A Rural Antiterrorist Group of four companies, stationed in the Basque Country (Spanish, Pais Vasco; Basque, Euskadi) and Navarre (Spanish, Navarra), concentrated its efforts against Basque extremists. This force could be supplemented by a helicopter unit and by a Special Intervention Unit as needed. Mountain Units guarded the Pyrenees frontier against terrorists and smugglers, in addition to providing general police and rescue services. The Civil Guard generally enjoyed greater popularity than other police elements, in part because of its reputation for courtesy and helpfulness to motorists. Nevertheless, it had not completely shed its earlier reputation as the primary instrument of the Franco regime's efforts to root out and crush any evidence of opposition. Numerous cases of torture and ill treatment were attributed to members of the Civil Guard, especially in the handling of suspected Basque dissidents. The persistence of reactionary tendencies was underscored by the participation of a senior officer of the Civil Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina, in the dramatic coup attempt of 1981, backed by nearly 300 guardsmen who made prisoners of cabinet ministers and deputies of the Cortes.

Most members of the Civil Guard were housed with their families on compounds that formed part of the stations from which they operated. A high proportion of recruits were the sons of guardsmen. Entrance was at the age of sixteen years or seventeen years, when recruits began a two-year course at one of two "colleges" or, alternatively, at ages nineteen to twenty-four at the other college where the course was of eleven months duration. Promotion to officer rank was possible after fourteen years of service. A minority of officers gained direct commissions by attending the General Military Academy at Zaragoza for two years, where they followed the regular military cadet curriculum. After an additional three years at the Special Academy of the Civil Guard at Aranjuez, these cadets entered the service as lieutenants. Under the 1986 organic law, the Ministry of Interior was assigned responsibility for operational matters, pay, assignments, accommodations, and equipment. The Ministry of Defence was responsible for promotions, military missions, and wartime mobilization. Recruitment, training, weapons, deployment, and conduct of the system whereby compulsory service could be performed in the Civil Guard were matters of joint responsibility. The regulations introduced in early 1988 enabling women to serve in certain categories of the armed forces also cleared the way for eventual recruitment of women into the Civil Guard. The 1986 law set out a new functional division of responsibilities between the Civil Guard and the National Police Corps. In addition to its rural police functions, the Civil Guard was to be responsible for firearms and explosives control; traffic policing on interurban roads; protection of communication routes, coasts, frontiers, ports, and airports; enforcement of environmental and conservation laws, including those governing hunting and fishing; and interurban transport of prisoners.

National Intelligence Centre (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia  - CNI) formerly: Higher Defence Intelligence Centre
(Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa - CESID)

The Higher Defence Intelligence Centre (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa--CESID) was created in 1977 to replace the intelligence organizations of the Francoist period. These included the Political-Social Brigade--a special branch of the plainclothes corps--and the Intelligence Service of the Civil Guard. With their files on every part of the rural and urban population, these bodies carried on close surveillance and political intimidation on behalf of the Franco regime. By a royal decree of January 1984, CESID was defined legally as the intelligence agency of the prime minister. Nevertheless, it was fundamentally military in nature, and its head in 1988 was an army lieutenant general, Emilio Alanso Manglano. Observers speculated, however, that Manglano, who had held the post since 1981, eventually would be succeeded by a civilian. Employing about 2,000 individuals as of 1988, CESID was staffed primarily by the military, supplemented by 500 members of the Civil Guard and by 80 plainclothes police. About 30 percent of the members of the staff were civilians, said to be selected usually from among close relatives of military officers. Women had been confined largely to administrative tasks, but they were increasingly being entrusted with operational assignments. The principal operating units were domestic intelligence; foreign intelligence; counterintelligence; economics and technology (primarily industrial espionage); and operational support (principally application of devices for surveillance and eavesdropping). Considerable emphasis in external intelligence was allotted to North Africa and to the security of Ceuta and Melilla. Liaison was maintained with a number of intelligence services of North African and Middle Eastern nations, as well as with the Israeli agency, Mossad. Interception of ship transmissions in the strait area was another focus of activity. Domestic intelligence cantered on exposure of plots against the government, monitoring activities of unrecognised political parties, and counter terrorism.

Although CESID was the senior agency, it did not have a firmly established coordinating function over other intelligence bodies, which included the General Headquarters of Information of the Ministry of Defence; the second sections of the army, the air force, and the navy staffs; and the Civil Guard Information Service, dedicated to criminal and terrorist intelligence. Considerable rivalry and overlapping of missions characterized the entire intelligence system. CESID, in particular, was reported to be seeking to gain exclusive jurisdiction over police foreign intelligence activities. Beginning in late 1983, a right-wing force, the Antiterrorist Liberation Group (Grupo Antiterrorista de Liberacion--GAL), began a campaign of revenge killings and bombings among suspected ETA terrorists, chiefly in France, where GAL was widely believed to be linked to the Civil Guard. At the same time, an offshoot of ETA-M, Spain Commando, targeted members of the Civil Guard and the armed forces in Madrid, where such attacks, which gained maximum publicity for the movement, had been on the rise. Continued allegations surfaced of involvement by the previous Gonzalez administration in GAL, which murdered 27 people between 1983 and 1987. This secret organization was reportedly composed of security officers and contract gunmen with links to organized crime. GAL staged kidnappings and shootings of alleged terrorist ringleaders. A judicial crisis ensued when links between police and the anti-terrorists were revealed in the press. An aggressive judge believed the investigation should be pursued to high levels of the Spanish government. It is believed GAL had links to the highest ministerial levels, including a former Minister of the Interior, the commanding officer of the security forces, and the most senior government representative in the Basque region. Judicial investigations into these allegations proceeded through 1997 but did not turn up any significant new evidence. These investigations could lead to trials of former senior officials on GAL-related charges. In 2001, CESID was renamed the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) or National Intelligence Centre.

The Spanish Legion

Formed in 1920. Also known as: Tercio de Extranjeros. Headquarters: Almeria. The Legion also has Regiments in Melilla (or Mlilla, looking for accurate spelling), Ceuta, Fuertoventura,and Ronda.

The Spanish Legion (formally Spanish Foreign Legion) is part of Spain's Rapid Reaction Force. The Legion formally took in foreigners who could pass selection. The Legion, however, has always been mostly Spaniards. Only about 20% of the early recruits and personnel were from other countries. This however has changed slightly. Rumours have risen that the Legion still takes some foreigner but the main cadre are Spaniards. At one time signing up for the Legion was simple (like their French cousin). The Legion hopeful could ask any police officer or go to an Embassy, where he would then be turned over to the Legion. The recruit would be shown a film and talked to. He could then decide if this was really what he wanted. Training would then begin for the recruit. He would then go to Ronda for a selection process. Training was brutal and some recruits were said to have died. The Legion today is not for the weak. Training is still brutal with punishment usually being a severe beating from NCOs who run training. Training still takes place in Ronda. It is surprisingly short, usually 3-4 months long. Recruits are signed on for a 3 year contract which is as hard to get out of as the French Foreign Legion's. Recruits now are all volunteers from Spain (maybe). Basic military skills are taught, and forced marches are the norm. Like FFL, hard marches are supposed to make or brake a soldier. The Assault course is one of the most difficult in the world. Rumour has it live ammunition is used to shoot at recruits feet and over their heads while they are trying to complete the course. Recruits which undergo E&E training, usually BOEL soldiers, should expect punishment. E&E is brutal. The men are subjected to brutal beatings and other means of "torture". While no recruit has been killed during this phase, it must be said that it is probably very close to the real thing. The Spanish Legion consists of some 7,000-8,000 men (yes only men) roughly. The Legion consists of 4 Regiments (called Tercios). Each Regiment has 4 Battalions (or Banderas). While their are more Regiments in the Legion, the one which has a "Special Operations" role is the 4th Tercio Alejandro Farnesio (or the The 4th Alexander Farnesio Regiment). It is based in Ronda. It has two Banderas, one a Parachute Element, and another the Bandera de Operaciones. The BOEL ,as they are known as, is the Spanish Legion "Special" unit. The Battalion consists of about 500 men. It was once known as the OLEU. They are trained in several different area: SCUBA/Maratime Warfare, Arctic and Mountain Warfare, Sabotage and Demolitions (BOEL Demo experts are very highly regarded), Parachute and HALO techniques, Long Range Reconnaissance, Counterterrorism and CQB (very small amount of training is focused on this), Vehicle insertion (The BOEL still use Land Rovers, BMR600s,Nissan trucks, and other American and British made vehicles), Sniping, SERE,.

The basic weapons used by the BOEL are the same as used by the Legion. These include the 5.56 CETME rifle, the 7.62 Ameli machine gun, the Star 9mm sub-machine gun and pistol, and 40mm grenade launchers. The Spanish Legion has the same camouflage as the rest of the Spanish Army. A red tassel on their hats sets them apart from other units though.

Unidad De Operaciones Especiales

Spain has a long history of raising specialized units, elite, and unconventional units to wage warfare against its enemies. Today a small, but highly trained and specially selected group of troops carries on this tradition within the it's Infanteria de Marina, the Spanish Marine Corps. The unit is known as the Unidad de Operaciones Especiales, or UOE. UOE is an integral part of the Infanteria de Marina's Tercio de Armada (TEAR), the Spanish Marines equivalent to the USMC's Fleet Marine Force (FMF), it operates under the direct control of the Spanish admiralty. UOE's stated mission is " To carry out in depth special reconnaissance and offensive direct actions against highly strategic, and heavily defended, objectives". Some of the many missions the unit is capable of conducting are: Long range reconnaissance prior to conventional force deployments. Intelligence gathering. Target acquisition, observation, and forward artillery control. Disruption of enemy lines of communications. Direct action missions, such as shock assaults, raids, maritime interdiction operations and ship boarding. Personnel recovery operations, such as the rescue of down pilots.

The unit was originally formed in 1952 as the Amphibious Climbing Company, an all volunteer force tasked with acting an first strike amphibious shock force capable of assaulting any coastal target. The unit specialized in conducting assaults against heavily defended coastal beachheads or reaching targets that were only accessible through difficult and rugged terrain. After conducting a study of similar NATO units, the Spanish Navy decided to expanded the units operational capabilities and produce a unit capable of conducting a wide variety of conventional and special warfare missions. So in 1967, Using the US Navy SEALs, and British Special Boat Section (SBS) as its guides, the unit was issued a new mandate that included underwater demolition, airborne insertions, and direct action sabotage strikes. The officer tasked with executing this mission was a young lieutenant named Yanez, from Tercio North. The units first operational deployment occurred in 1969 when they spearheaded evacuation of Spanish citizens form the former Spanish Colony of Equatorial Guinea. In 1985 the unit was redesignated the Comando Anfibio Especial (COMANFES) in 1985, but it reverted back to its original designation in the early 1990's. UOE has seen extensive action against Basque ETA terrorists operating inside Spain. They have also been deployed to the former Yugoslavia as part of the Spanish contingent of IFOR and SFOR. Providing invaluable assistance to both Spanish and allied commanders. Based in San Fernando, Spain, the unit is currently composed of 169 men and is commanded by a Lieutenant Col., with a Major acting as his deputy commander. The unit is composed of a small Headquarters section, a Command and Services Stol (Platoon), two Special Operations Stols and a combat diver Stol, each of which is commanded by a Captain. The Command and Services Stol is responsible for the units day to day operations, logistical and medical support, communications needs, etc. It is also responsible for operating the selection and training course for new unit intakes. The Special Operations Stol's are made up of 34-men, who are subdivided into two 16-man Special Operations divisions, and 2-man command element. The special operations divisions are divided into 4-four man teams. They are tasked with executing airborne, direct action (DA), and reconnaissance missions. The combat diver Stol contains the units combat diver trained personnel and specializes in Scuba, small crafts, and amphibious reconnaissance missions.

Prospective unit operators are drawn from the ranks of experienced TEAR personnel. Volunteers must have served at least one year in a TEAR operational unit before being allowed to submit themselves for selection. Selection is harsh, and is designed to weed out those who do not meet the units exacting standards. Candidates are exposed to a number of exercises designed to test their physical and mental stamina. During selection the candidates are push to, and beyond their perceived physical limits. UOE's training cadre evaluates how the trainees perform under fire, using verbal abuse, intensive physical exercise, and long distance endurance marches with heavy ruck sacks, to gauge their responses. Live fire training exercises are conducted to see if they will panic, or hesitate at a crucial moment during combat. During the most intensive phase of selection, students are taken led on a three long survival exercise that accounts for approximately half the selection course failures. Upon successful completion of selection the surviving students being their operational training. Students are sent to the School of Parachuting, and receive training in basic parachute operations. Upon their return to the unit they are provided instruction in conducting sea water parachute jumps, during which students must conduct several parachute jumps into the open ocean. Students then advance on to learning basic commando skills such as infiltration tactics and beaching, raids, ambushes, small boat handling and amphibious operations, unarmed combat and cold killing, map reading and land navigation, water survival, combat medicine, helicopter and airmobile operations, fast roping, rappelling, and pathfinding. Students are also provide instruction on infiltration form Spanish Navy submarines.

Those who successfully complete this phase advance to more specialized skills training. Student are instructed in hydorgraphic survey techniques, laser target designation, forward artillery control, rock climbing and mountaineering, cliff assault, and even basic hostage rescue skills. During this phase students will begin to specialize in a specific skill such as HALO/HALO operations, combat diving, demolitions, and sniping. In addition to their initial training, Officers and NCOs must also undertake training at the Army's Special Operations Unit Command Course. In addition to conducting operations with other TEAR and Spanish counter terrorist and special operations units, such as the National Police GEO, the national Guard's UEI and GAR counter terrorist units. They have also trained with or operated with the Navy's UEBC, the Air Force's EZAPAC, and the Army's PRP. UOE conducts regular training exercises with foreign units such as the USMC's Force Reconnaissance Companies, US Navy SEALs, Portugal's DAE, Italy's COM.SUB.IN and the Esploratore Anfibio unit of the Army's Lagunari Regiment, The French Navy's "Commandos Marine" assault units and the Commando Hubert combat diver unit The unit is outfitted with a wide range of equipment to help it execute its wide range of missions. In addition to having access to Spanish military ships, aircraft, and submarines unit maintains a small number of Zodiac inflatable boats and Klepper two-man kayaks. Radio communications are provided through the use of UHF, VHF, and burst transmission radios. The unit has also acquired a large number of Magellan, and Slugger GPS units. Unit divers are equipped with both standard wet and dry diving suits. The unit is also equipped with laser target designators to mark targets for Spanish naval aircraft.

The UOE armoury is well stocked with a variety of locally produced and foreign manufactured weapons. Pistols are known to include Llama 82B 9mm with laser aiming devices and sound suppressers. Rifles include the CETME Model L 5.56mm assault rifle, but it will soon be replaced by the HK G-36 5.56mm rifle. Submachine-guns consist of the sound suppressed 9mm Patchett/Sterling Mk. 5 which is usually modified to accept a laser aiming device. Sniper rifles consist of the Mauser SP 66 7.62 mm rifle. Machine-guns consist of the locally produced Ameli 5.56mm light machine gun. and the US M-60 7.62mm GPMG. the unit has also contracted a local company to produced a specially designed "commando" dagger to meet its many needs.

Escadrilla de Zapadores Paracaidistas

Within the Spanish Air Force lies a small, but highly trained group of elite special operations troops known as the Escadrilla de Zapadores Paracaidistas (Parachute Combat Engineer/Sapper Squadron), or EZAPAC. The squadron is a company sized force of approximately 300 troops that is trained in executing several types of missions. These missions include the following: Identifying and marking aircraft landing and parachute drop zones. Providing ground visual aid and electronic control to friendly aircraft. Acting as forward air controllers for fighter aircraft. Collection and transmission data from enemy territory. Identification and destruction of objectives of aeronautical interest. Reinforcing the Escuadrilla de Apoyo al Despliegue Aero (EADA) and providing additional security at Air Force facilities. Providing Search and Rescue support. Training Air Force and Navy pilots in survival and evasion techniques.

EZAPAC, which operates under the direct control of the Air Force Reaction Forces, is divided into several sections each of which specialize in conducting a specific type of mission. The unit is completely air transportable and all of its personnel are airborne trained; with many of it's operators attaining HALO/HAHO parachute qualifications. Formed in 1946 as the Primera Bandera de Tropas de Aviacion del Ejercito del Aire (1st Airborne Troops Battalion of the Air Force), the unit was organized in the image of the German Assault Group, a highly successful World War Axis parachute unit. Unit personnel conducted their initial training in the Four Winds and Culvert aerodromes, and at Alcala de Henares, performing their first parachute jump in September of 1948. In 1952 the unit moved its base of operations to Alcala de Henares, where it was once again redesignated. Beginning in 1957 the unit participated in the Ifni conflict, and in 1958 returned home to its new base at Madrilenian. On September 9, 1965 the unit was disbanded, reformed and assigned its current name, the Escadrilla de Zapadores Paracaidistas, or the Parachute Combat Engineer Squadron. EZAPAC inherited the previous unit's mission, and absorbed its personnel, material, and weapons. The unit then transferred to its current headquarters at Culvert and was placed under the operational control of the Headquarters, Tactical Aviation, with logistical support being provided by the Parachute School. Between 1971 and 1974 the unit transferred to Cobut, but returned to its former base in Murcia, due to logistical and material problems created by deficient facilities on the Cobut base. In 1975, the unit deployed to the Canary Islands during the evacuation of the Spanish Sahara. In 1989, EZAPAC was deployed to Namibia as part of a UN peacekeeping force operating in the country. EZAPAC operators provided security for a Spanish Air Force detachment flying humanitarian relief supplies to refugees in the country. Since August of 1993, EZAPAC has supported both of NATO's IFOR and SFOR missions in Bosnia. In addition to their other duties, EZAPAC teams have deployed to the Balkan's providing tactical air control parties (TACPs) to Spanish units deployed their. Between September of 1994 and April of 1995, detachments of EZAPAC operators were deployed to the war ravaged African nation of Rwanda. At that time the country was involved in a brutal civil war, with both sides committing various atrocities against each other, and anyone who happened to get in their way. EZAPAC personnel were tasked with escorting cargo planes bringing in humanitarian relief supplies, and searching for the locations refugee camps scattered throughout the country side.

Prospective unit members undertake a four year period of instruction that they must successfully complete before they are considered fully qualified operators. Training for the candidate begins at the School of Parachuting. Students must mater a series of common tasks, such as survival, communications, first-aid, defensive infiltration's, etc. They are also provided training in military free fall parachuting, forward air control techniques, air traffic control, and other pathfinder related skills. Upon successful completion of the basic instruction course, the new operators are awarded the Spanish special operations forces green beret and then integrated into an operational team where they continue their specialized training. EZAPAC regularly conducts training exercises with similar allied units such as USAF Special Tactics teams, French Commando de l'Air teams, and Portuguese RESCOM CSAR teams.


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