17:39 El NACHO 0 Comments

Almeria’s Legionnaires opened the Spanish mission in Afghanistan in September 2004 when they provided a battalion, about 800 personnel, to establish the ISAF Quick Reaction Force. It was confirmed last week that despite the drawdown announced by the Minister for Defence, Carme Chacón, aimed at pulling all Spanish troops out of the country by 2014, they will have to serve at least one more tour of duty. 
If the history of Spanish casualties in Afghanistan were not enough to prove the danger of the military mission, last week’s death of a sergeant and a female soldier, Argudin Manuel and Pineda Niyireth, following an attack on a convoy highlights the real war scenario that these troops are constantly facing. 
Since the beginning of the Allied offensive the Spanish 'fallen' now  totals ninety-seven, making the Afghan conflict the most damaging of all in Spanish military history during it’s years of democracy.  
Defence Minister, Carmen Chacón, announced the timetable for phasing out Spanish troops by 2014 and, as such, the Legion, with it’s central base in Almeria, will have to serve at least one more tour of duty in Afghanistan.  
The forecast is that the Legion will now send a large contingent of close to a thousand troops in early 2012. The Legionnaires are already undertaking their preparatory training at their base 'Alvarez de Sotomayor, "located in the municipality of Viator. This camp has been used in recent years as the main location for military training by all Spanish troops about to serve in desert conflicts with characteristics very similar to those found in Afghanistan. 
The Spanish Foreign Legion was formed in 1920, in emulation of the French one, and had a significant role in Spain's colonial wars in Morocco and in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. The Spanish Foreign Legion recruited foreigners until 1986 but unlike its French model, the number of non-Spanish recruits never exceeded 25%, most of those from Latin America. It is now called the Spanish Legion and only recruits Spanish nationals.
The Spanish Legion nowadays is mostly used in NATO peacekeeping missions. It currently numbers 5,000 in a Brigade of two tercios (regiments) with two other independent tercios currently deployed mainly in the Spanish African enclaves, namely Ceuta and Melilla but also in Ronda, Viator and Almería. Although the detachment at Málaga was transferred away, every Holy Week a platoon of legionnaires marches through the city in procession of the Christ of the Good Death, a figure of a crucified Jesus, venerated by the Legion. 
The Legion remains a harshly disciplined elite unit and is directly controlled by the Spanish General Staff.  
During a trip in which she visited the wounded and met with leaders of the Spanish contingent, Carme Chacon, the Minister of Defense was in Afghanistan last week to collect information on the recent attack suffered by Spanish troops. She was accompanied by Chief of Defense Staff, Air Force General, Jose Julio Rodriguez.