General Villaroya is in charge of the operational structure of the Armed Forces against COVID-19
The Chief of Defence Staff (JEMAD in Spanish), Air General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, is responsible for the Operation 'Balmis'. The Armed Forces will carry out this Operation to face COVID-19, and the Commander of the Operations Command, Lieutenant General Fernando López del Pozo will be in charge.
Operation 'Balmis' means the integration of the operational, health, logistic, military police and infrastructure capabilities belonging to the Military Emergency Unit (UME), the General Health Inspectorate (IGESAN) and the Army, Navy and Air Force. All these capabilities shall be made available to the competent authorities. The operation is activated from the declaration of the state of alarm decreed by the Government on 14 March.
As part of the COVID-19 technical monitoring committee, the Chief of The Defence Staff will update the information regarding operation 'Balmis' at the press conference to be held at Moncloa Palace at intervals to be determined.
The mission of the Armed Forces in this health crisis has been named Operation ‘Balmis', as a tribute to the humanitarian expedition led by Francisco Javier Balmis between 1803 and 1806, a military doctor who brought the smallpox vaccine to the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire in America and the Philippines.
The purpose of the group was none other than to end the infant mortality that the virus was causing in the overseas territories. Since their departure from the port of La Coruña, the crew immunized the populations of the Canary Islands, America and the Philippines, Macao, Canton and the island of Santa Elena. A sanitary feat that the Doctor from the Spanish province of Alicante achieved together with the Catalan military man José Salvany.