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Three service academies prepared young men as career officers. The General Military Academy at Zaragoza provided a four-year program leading to a commisssion as lieutenant in the army. The first two years and the fourth year consisted of joint studies at the academy; the third year was devoted to training specific to the branch of service selected. The five-year curriculum of the Naval Military School at Marin on the Atlantic coast included years one, two, and four based at the academy, a six-month to eight-month cruise on a school sailing ship during the third year, and a fifth year spent primarily aboard fleet units. At the General Air Academy at San Javier, the first three years consisted of basic studies and introductory flight training. The fourth year was devoted to the specialization chosen. Beginning with the entering class of 1987, a fifth year was to be added with further concentration on a specialization.
As part of the reforms announced in 1985, all of the academies were expected to provide similar levels of the general education needed to undertake future advanced studies; in particular they were to strengthen the areas of the humanities and the social sciences, including the courses on the constitutional and the justice systems. The curricula were to devote 20 percent of courses to the humanities and the social sciences, 20 percent to scientific and technical subjects, 10 percent to physical education and recreation, and 50 percent to military and professional training.
Competition for entry into the academies was keen. In 1986 only 194 out of 3,000 candidates were selected for the army academy, only 60 of 800 applicants were chosen for the naval academy, and only 78 out of 2,500 were accepted for the air academy. The entering classes were decidedly smaller than they had been in the past, in order to conform to the new tables of organization. In 1980, for example, 275 cadets had entered the army academy, 72 had been accepted in the naval academy, and 126, in the air academy.
Army noncommissioned officer (NCO) training was conducted at the Basic General Academy of Noncommissioned Officers (Academia General Basica de Suboficiales--AGBS), in an intensive three-year program. The first year consisted of basic military studies, the second year was spent in study in a technical training institute, and the third year consisted of further specialized technical training or additional leadership training at AGBS. Soldiers completing the course were promoted to the rank of sergeant. In spite of a large number of applicants--more than 10,000 in 1985--the number of candidates accepted was reduced from more than 1,100 in 1980 to 610 in 1986.
Each branch of the armed forces had a range of technical schools and preparatory courses for successive levels of command. The Ministry of Defense directly administered schools in such specialties as military justice, accounting, administration, and intelligence. Army colonels and lieutenant colonels with demonstrated aptitudes and qualifications could be assigned to the Higher Army School for command and staff studies. The Naval Warfare School prepared naval captains and marine colonels for higher commands. The Higher Air School provided corresponding command training to those air force officers demonstrating qualities expected to lead to general officer rank.
Training for ground force conscripts consisted of an initial four-month period of basic instruction and tactical exercises at the squad and the platoon levels. This was followed by two four-month training cycles providing collective larger-unit instruction and tactical exercises. Spanish observers asserted that insufficient time was devoted to training and that its quality was lax. Recruits complained that they were often inefficiently occupied, doing minor chores, sitting around barracks, or assigned to duties in commissaries and clubs. In addition to efforts to introduce more meaningful training and to increase the amount of time devoted to training, the government hoped to meet other objections to the conscription system by instituting a new regionalization policy. To the extent permitted by national defense needs, servicemen were to be assigned to posts near their homes. The previous policy, introduced under Franco when the principal mission of the armed forces was internal security, was to send soldiers to regions where they had no personal ties.
The army continued to rely, to a considerable extent, on university students, who were fulfilling their twelve-month service obligation as second lieutenants, to serve as platoon commanders or as sergeants after only six months of basic training. Observers questioned the continued dependence on this recruiting source, which affected the caliber of training provided to conscripts and reduced the professional prospects of career NCOs. One reason for its retention was that limiting the number of career officers left the avenues for advancement to higher rank less cluttered.
Data as of December 1988
Spain Table of Contents