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General López del Pozo highlights the success of operation ‘Balmis’ at CESEDEN

May 7, 2020

·       The Commander of Operations has taken part on the panel ‘Security and National Defence after COVID-19’

The Commander of Operations Command (CMOPS, in Spanish), lieutenant general Fernando López del Pozo, has taken part on the panel ‘Security and National Defence after COVID-19’, held at the Higher Centre for National Defence Studies (CESEDEN, in Spanish), where he has highlighted the achivements of operation ‘Balmis’

The panel has been conducted by lieutenant general Francisco Bisbal Pons, director of the Centre. Also participating, Eduardo Olier, director of Choiseul Institute; brigadier general José Antonio Herrera, director of the Joint Centre for Concept Development; and, brigadier general Francisco Dacoba Cerviño, director of the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE, in Spanish). 

On his address, general López del Pozo remarked the most significant headlines of operation ‘Balmis’ and how the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted on foreign ongoing operations. 

Regarding the planning and execution of the operation, CMOPS highlighted the structure of command and control within the Operations Command to execute the permanent missions conducted by the Armed Forces. The procedures and the chain of command have both been correctly implemented and smoothly performed. “The transition from the current structure of command to operation ‘Balmis’ was carried out rapid and efficiently, since it was only needed to include the Military Emergency Unit (UME in Spanish) and also the Defence Health Directorate”, he explained.

Since March 14th, when the minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, ordered to start the planning stage, “within the next 24 hours we had personnel looking out potential locations of interest  and on March 16th the UME was doing disinfection works and had been deployed to those places”.

Another topic discussed on the panel was how operation ‘Balmis’ could have impacted on the support of troops deployed abroad. CMOPS remarked that the Spanish Armed Forces are strong enough to sustain all foreign missions and operation ‘Balmis’ simultaneously.

“We have enough personnel to deal with this outbreak, nevertheless we have tried not to give false expectations on unreachable tasks. We can ensure we have put all Armed Forces capabilities on the ground while keeping the effectiveness in the ongoing operations”, he concluded.     


Likewise, during the meeting, it was also addressed the impact of COVID-19 in foreign operations. As general López del Pozo outlined, the operations aimed to assess and to train local forces have been somewhat halted since there was no personnel to instruct.

“We have carried out a partial withdrawal of instructors stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia”, he stated.

Although it should be noted that the personnel withdrawn from such countries is available here in Spain and ready to be deployed in theater of operations if health standards are met, general López del Pozo noted that the overall number of servicemen deployed in foreign operations has been reduced by 640.

The lack of activity and need for less clustering to avoid infections among the military personnel stationed abroad led to take the decision on these temporary withdrawals.

Regarding to the replacement troops, general Lopez del Pozo has made clear that restrictions imposed by different countries on the entry of foreign personnel have affected the replacements in different areas of operation, especially in Lebanon, where the United Nations has forced a delay of more than a month in the handover of all personnel stationed in the country.