The King has taken advantage of the traditional celebration of Military Easter to highlight the “pride of Spanish society” in its Armed Forces and its “legitimate feeling of admiration and appreciation” for the “immediacy and effectiveness” with which they have reacted to emergencies such as the covid pandemic, the eruption of the La Palma volcano or the storm Philomena. On the 10th anniversary of “the cessation of brutal violence by the terrorist gang ETA” (on October 20, 2011, the gang announced the definitive abandonment of the armed struggle), Felipe VI wanted to “honor with great emotion the memory and dignity of the victims of terrorism ”, many of them belonging to the Armed Forces and the State Security Forces and Bodies. “We send their families a message of encouragement and admiration. His strength and moral height serve as a guide for all Spaniards ”, he stressed. “We will always have an unpayable debt of gratitude to them,” said Defense Minister Margarita Robles.
In the Royal Palace, before the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the Minister of Defense and the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the leadership of the three armies and the Civil Guard, Felipe VI – wearing the uniform of the Army Captain General de Tierra – has shown the “pride, appreciation and gratitude” of the Spanish towards the military, to whom “they have once again felt very close, sharing their same efforts, assisting with personnel and means to overcome moments of great difficulty.”
Never like in 2021, the Armed Forces have turned to face the catastrophes and emergencies that Spanish society has suffered. The Monarch has listed some of them: the storm Philomena, the fires of last summer, the floods by La Dana and the flooding of the Ebro or the eruption of the La Palma volcano. Without forgetting the fight against the pandemic, which still continues with the Operation Mission Baluarte, in which more than a thousand military personnel participate in tracking and vaccination teams. “I know that you are moved by the honor of serving Spain and our citizens and that, in fulfilling your responsibility, you spare no effort or sacrifice,” he told them. The high valuation of the Armed Forces, reflected in all the surveys, “is undoubtedly the best reward and implies appreciation and gratitude for your work and your values,” the Monarch insisted.
The King also recalled the end, last August, of the military operation in Afghanistan, “the longest in our recent history”, and stressed that Spain reacted “with leadership to the difficult and delicate challenge” of evacuation, which It was necessary to tackle before “the humanitarian drama that was generated after the collapse of the country” and the taking of the power by the Taliban. He has left to the debate that the allies must maintain the task of “extracting the necessary lessons and lessons” from what happened.
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Robles, who intervened in the first place, acknowledged that “we would all have wished for another end” for the mission in Afghanistan, but assured that the sacrifice of the 102 uniformed soldiers killed in that country during two decades of Spanish presence “has not been sterile. ”. And it has underlined the “high risk” conditions in which an evacuation “against the clock” took place in which it was possible to save the lives of more than 2,000 Afghans. “We will never forget the images of thousands of people crowding to enter the Kabul airport,” the minister recalled, “our soldiers helping their families to cross that canal” of sewage, the last obstacle before accessing to the facilities.
The Afghan fiasco will be one of the topics at the summit that NATO will hold in Madrid next June, “at a crucial moment for the plans and strategic orientation” of the Atlantic Alliance – which will approve its new Strategic Concept in the capital of Spain. – and which represents, he stressed, “an important recognition of Spain’s commitment to NATO and the extraordinary role of our troops in the missions and structures” of the organization. “The NATO of the future will come from Madrid”, said Robles, who stressed that “Spain is a serious and reliable ally, which fulfills its international commitments”.
In addition to praising the professionalism and effectiveness of the military, Felipe VI has left a message to the Defense Minister, adding: “We must continue to give them the attention they require, in their own safety and in their needs and concerns. His dedication to our defense and his sacrifice for the common good of all Spaniards deserves it ”. Robles has picked up the glove recalling that last year their salary was raised for the first time since 2005, although the increase has been considered insufficient by the military associations, to which the minister thanked their work, who has highlighted the “effort [económico] exceptional ”carried out to modernize the Armed Forces.
Robles began his speech with an optimistic message of national self-affirmation. “Spain is a great country”, he said, “of which we are deeply proud. A country with great resilience to overcome difficulties and to write pages of effort and improvement, capable of successfully tackling the greatest challenges and challenges ”. The minister has praised Spanish citizens, who have come en masse to get vaccinated, “not only to protect their lives but also that of other compatriots” and added that one of the lessons of the pandemic is the need to start ” a European military health corps ”.
The pandemic has conditioned, for the second consecutive year, the Military Easter. The Throne Room, where the act was held, only a few dozen military personnel have acceded – among others, the 16 decorated – while the rest of the guests, up to 200, have followed the speeches on television from an adjoining room. The King and Queen, who wore a long navy blue dress and a brooch with a pearl, have come to greet them, but the traditional glass has not been served.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.