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Spanish Verification Unit
UVE Emblem

UVE is the independent joint operational unit in charge of conducting verification activities corresponding to the Armed Forces.

The Unit´s mission is contained in the Ministerial Order 73/91, of 8 October, which creates the Spanish Verification Unit (UVE in Spanish).

In the Preamble of said Ministerial Order, its troops are fit, depending on the specialisation required, within an Executive Unit as “a permanent differentiated joint operational unit”, in order to distinguish it from the personnel who provide services within the Joint General Staff. The Unit will take part in those tasks needed for dealing with the commitments acquired by Spain in arms control, and it will verify that they are fulfilled.

Subsequently, Article 1 of the provisions included in this Ministerial Order states that…” those missions corresponding to the Armed Forces in terms of Verification, as a consequence of the International commitments acquired by our Nation, will be conducted by the Spanish Verification Unit from the Defence Staff.

UVE, according to the Defence Regulation 40/2008, implementing the Defence Staff structure, is organically included within the Defence Staff structure and it is dependent, for the purposes of procedure and clearance, on the General Chief of the Strategic Plans Division (DIVESPLA in Spanish) from the Joint Defence Staff (JEMACON in Spanish)

Development of UVE´s mission was placed in the Organizational Instruction 90/02, executed two years before the CFE Treaty was implemented, in order to meet the activities derived from it. Said Instruction entrusts to UVE the following tasks:

Conducting a detailed planning and executing those entrusted verification and arm control activities.

  1. Writing and spreading the mandatory reports arising from such activities.
  2. Analysing, filing and guarding inspection, evaluation and other activities reports that, within the verification field, are received from other agencies or Verification Units.
  3. Preparing the internal orders and instructions. as well as preparing and spreading operational procedures derived from the verification system established within the national area.
  4. Maintaining an alert system that, in coordination with bodies involved in the national verification system, will allow a quick reaction to the notifications received in Spain regarding intention to inspect, evaluate or other verification activities.
  5. Keeping updated, utilising and controlling a Data Base for supporting both verification activities and national and foreign military information exchanges.
  6. Training and instructing the Unit´s personnel to conduct proper verification and arm control activities.
  7. Planning and proposing staffing, material and resources needs, including the annual budget for developing its activities.
  8. Taking part in monitoring of those agreements and treaties that may originate verification measures.
  9. Proposing assistance to conferences, seminars and meetings of national and international forums of interest for the Unit.
  10. Preparing and spreading though the established channels military information exchanges, as well as notifications related to implementation of treaties and agreements in force.


UVE requires well-trained personnel in order to successfully conduct missions with a very short activation process and specialised training. For this purpose, the following series of capabilities are needed:

  • Communicating fluently in English and Russian (including aeronautic Russian), key tools within the Verification field.
  • Creating and analysing military information exchanges.
  • Knowing the Arm Control Treaties and Agreements.
  • Recognising and identifying military materials and units.
  • Planning and conducting aerial photographic missions.
  • Knowing about Small and Light Weapons and Conventional Ammunitions.
  • Leading/integrating into multinational teams.
  • Having negotiating capacity within the multinational and operational field.
  • Other technical capacities (photosetting, photography, GPS´s use, etc.).
  • Having a high grade of recruitment: passports, vacuums, medical examinations, physical aptitude tests, etc. for having complete availability of own personnel.

The main training of UVE´s personnel is conducted at the Unit itself and at NATO School in Oberammergau (Germany), where collaboration is provided in the form of teachers. This teacher contribution is a real challenge that makes UVE proud, since they are required to perfectly control technical English and being experts in the subject to teach, taking into account that students have a high level of prior learning.

Instruction and Training of UVE personnel is complemented with other activities such as exercises and bilateral instruction flights with allied countries, cooperation with other FAS Units for First-Aid courses, training flights in helicopters, visits to Units to prepare them for inspections, and other internal activities including language courses, material recognition courses, shooting, parades, etc.

As a result of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), and after development of such negotiation in Vienna, from March 1989, the General Directorate of Defence Policies (DIGENPOL in Spanish) had the necessity of establishing an organic structure able to meet the obligations deriving both from the CFE treaty and the Stockholm Document. For that purpose, a two-level structure is conceived: one of management level, conducted by DIGENPOL and another one executive, under the Joint Defence Staff (EMACON in Spanish) and the Army Headquarters.

In March 1990, by Order from the Ministry of Defence, a work group was created which proposed a first design of organization of a verification system, assigned tasks to its main DIGENPOL organisms, Defence Staff (EMAD in Spanish) and Army Headquarters and created a Verification Cell within each of them. From this group, the proposal of formation of an inspection/escort units arose, considered as the UVE´s germ. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, following a letter sent by the Minister of Defence communicating him the organization´s status regarding Defence verification and necessity to coordinate this matter between both Ministries, expressed its intent to create a General Sub-directorate for Disarmament Affairs.

First steps

Following approval of the creation of an inspection/escort unit, and once an initial verification system was established through the allocation of responsibilities, operational lines were defined, being in some cases characteristic features of the UVE´s modus operandi. Among them, we can highlight performance in accordance with regulated procedures, which are agreed in advance by participating bodies, and decentralization in the execution of each team, both at the inspection and escort levels.

The need for having a communication system was considered to be of great importance, conceiving as well the possibility of using it for multiple uses: information exchange, data processing, sending notifications, etc. Also, given the short time periods established for processing the different procedures, it was also considered the need for establishing a permanent alert system which would be able to respond within three hours to a notification made by another country expressing the intention to conduct an inspection in Spain within the following 36 hours.

In September 1990, for the development of verification standards, guidelines were established assigning tasks to UVE, and mentioning it as a recently-created unit. However, this fact did not occur until a year later, even though on 20th September 1990 (BOD 190), his Excellency Mr. Víctor Suanzes Pardo was appointed Chief of the Verification Unit. From that moment, all the competences related to elaboration and maintenance of information fell under the competence of the EMACON Verification Cell.

Annexed to the aforementioned guidelines, the proposal also establishes a division of Spain into inspection districts with two entry/exit points, the limits for deciding the kind of transport to be used by the escort team and the support given to overflights conducted over those declared places with Army helicopters. This resulted in a first draft of a general operational standard.


  "Fiat lux"

As a result of this preparatory activity emerged the Organizational Structure 90/02, which today is still the most important basic document, since it is signed by the Chief of the Defence Staff (JEMAD) and countersigned by the Ministry of Defence. It regulates tasks endorsed by the Ministry of Defence organisms in relation to the active and passive inspections, together with one important aspect that is the establishment of the UVE internal structure under the command of a General; in addition, the EMACON´s responsibility for maintenance of a database is also established. Shortly thereafter, in January 1991, the General Instruction 02/91, regulating internal procedures for development of information exchange in the Kingdom of Spain, was signed. 

But certainly, the most significant event during 1992, given the commitment of the Eastern European countries to ratify the CFE Treaty, was the UVE´s creation by Ministerial Order 73/91 of 8 October 1991.

July 1992 saw an event that would definitely launch the UVE´s running: the decision taken by the States signing the CFE of its provisional entry into force. Despite all the preparations, this fact took by surprise the unit, since they counted with an insufficient number of troops to cope with the workload expected at that time; for that reason, personnel were seconded in September, and lately the unit was definitely assigned in December.

Entry into force

From then on, the unit found itself into an intense activity, since in December 1992 it was also in charge of those verification activities of the Vienna Document in which the unit had previous experience, taking into account that in October 1991 the first activity of application of this document was conducted: evaluation of the Cavalry Brigade Castillejos No.2 in Zaragoza by a team from the URSS. Regarding CFE, it was needed, before proceeding during the following three years to the reduction to the agreed limits, to validate data on the existence of armament limited by the Treaty; said period was known as “of base validation”.

During the CFE period, known as “of reduction”, a great effort was made, since a quantity of armament higher than the one destroyed during the Second World War, was rendered useless.

The unit´s internal organization was also adapted to this new situation. The inspection team lost its permanent role regarding its composition and they evolved into a more pragmatic and at the same time efficient mode of action, from a functional point of view. The rotation of inspectors in multiple tasks, according to their mission, enables to acquire full knowledge of the different consequences of executing a verification mission.

The end of the reduction period, in 1995, gave way to an intense activity phase of application of the CFE Treaty. Within four months, as many inspections as those that may be conducted during an annual cycle, were realised. The protagonists of the “residual level validation period”, as this phase was called, will remember it as a permanent state of availability to pack and unpack personal luggage.

Diversification of activities

Following the new integration of the Verification Cell into UVE, returning to EMACON from 1992, the unit commitment to the function of advising the command regarding arm control increased.

The situation reached after signing of the Dayton Agreement in the Balkans, giving rise to a verification regime partially inspired by CFE and the Vienna Document, offered UVE the possibility of taking part as an assistant of the teams composed by the conflict parties.

Entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention, made in Paris in January 1993 and ratified by Spain in August 1994, led to the creation of the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (ANPAQ in Spanish), by Royal Decree of 12 May 1997, being a collegiate body chaired by the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, a General Secretariat included into the Minister of Industry and Energy, and a Working Group. In this way, a new body is created, competent in verification issues, as well as an inspection regime, created by experts from the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and counting with the participation of UVE as a support body, due to its experience in verification in general and in that aspect, since the unit had already performed an exercise related with this activity at the Naval Base of Algameca (Cartagena).

A fact of great impact on the UVE´s financial side was that, from 1998, military aircraft was replaced by commercial airlines for the movement of inspection teams. This was a practice already applied by other CFE members for some time. This did not mean in any way the end of the valuable contribution to the verification activities given by the Spanish Air Force. Soon afterwards, the air observation system for the Treaty on Open Skies, known as “sensor´s pod” was delivered to the allied group participating in the consortium formed in 1994 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Spain had made an important contribution to the system equipment by providing four aerial cameras, with a cost of 22 million pesetas (132,500€).

After executing compatibility tests with the aircraft “Hércules”, which had previously undergone a modernisation process in avionics and self-protection systems, the first operational activities were carried out with this aircraft, preceded by flights of data collection in order to determine the minimum height for using sensors.

On 1st January 2002, the Treaty on Open Skies came into force, and since then, observation flights are conducted, both actives and passives.

Organic and functional restructuring

In January 1998 and by application of JEMAD Organizational Instruction 1/98 on “organization of the EMAD Headquarters”, UVE became overly dependent on the General Chief of the Strategic Plans Division (DIVESPLA). In June 1999, UVE moved from its section into the Defence Staff to his current location at the Confinement to Barracks of the Defence Group of Schools in Madrid.

UVE is in charge of conducting verification and assessment activities in the tasks it develops, maintaining functional relation with the following bodies:

  • General Directorate of Defence Policies (DIGENPOL in Spanish) from the Ministry of Defence.
  • General Directorate of Foreign Policy and Multilateral, Global and Security Affair, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The Strategic Plans Division (DIVESPLA) from the Joint Staff.
  • The Verification Cells from the Spanish Army, Navy and Air Force.

Updated on 31st December 2014

Summary of activities executed by UVE

CFE Activities

  • Inspections: 158
  • Multinational Inspections: 278
  • Passive Inspections: 116

Vienna Document Activities

  • Evaluations and Inspections: 78
  • Passive Evaluations and Inspections: 41
  • Events: 189 (9 in Spain)
  • Manoeuvres observation: 8

Open Skies Activities

  • Active Flights: 27
  • Passive Flights: 26

Dayton Agreement Activities

  • 34 Missions

Chemical Weapons Convention Activities

  • 64 Escorts to OPCW Inspections

Activities in 2014.

In 2014, the UVE continued to play its role in the planning and execution of activities corresponding to the Armed Forces in compliance with Spain´s commitments on disarmament, arm control and confidence and security measures.

Regarding arm control, an active participation has been exerted by means of a CFE inspection to Belarus and three activities led by Spain within the framework of the Vienna Document: two inspections, to Ukraine and Montenegro, and one evaluation to Armenia. Moreover, collaboration to inspections led by other allied countries has also been provided. The Russian Federation has been the most active country regarding inspections in Spain. This country has conducted an Area Inspection and one Vienna Document 11 (VN) Evaluation (Canary Islands Brigade), together with two Open Skies observation flights.

In NATO, studies leading to an update and improvement of the different arm control treaties have been relaunched. In this context, UVE has participated, contributing with its knowledge to HLTF (High-Level Task Force) meetings.

UVE is particularly attentive to the Ukrainian crisis situation, conducting several actions within this framework. He has participated with a member in the OSCE observation visit, which was held in March due to the Crimean crisis. In November, it has led a VD11 Area Inspection in the region next to Kiev. It has also collaborated with CIFAS (Spanish Armed Forces Intelligence Centre) in the study of the country´s situation. And it also cooperates in the NATO and OSCE analysis regarding possible improvements of the arm control treaties based on lessons identified throughout this conflict.

In the Treaty on Open Skies, Spain has conscientiously prepared for escorting the Russian Federation flights with its new digital cameras. For this purpose, Spain has taken a course with the company Integraph and a seminar together with the Portuguese Verification Unit (UNAVE). Finally, two observation flights have been received from the Russian Federation. The first one in March with the analogue cameras, and the second one in October with the digital cameras. Spain has also taken part in active flights over Ukraine and Russia led by other countries; this latter flying over the Russian border with Ukraine.

In the training field, it should be highlighted the support received by CEFAMENT (Aeromobile Army Forces Education Centre) and FAMET (Aeromobile Army Forces) for the training of the UVE´s members in helicopter flights, much needed for its missions of VD11 Area Inspection. The VERIFEX verification exercise has also been conducted with an allied country, this year with Romania. Together with students and teachers, UVE has attended several International Arm Control Courses, as well as the Health Days organized by the Military School of Health for UVE.

In relation to Small Arms and Conventional Ammunition, UVE has continued with its active participation in the Simposium held by the Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group, celebrated in Austria and Canada.

For the second consecutive year, conferences on the destruction of cluster munitions were held at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneve.

In the field of Chemical Weapons, UVE has continued supporting the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (ANPAQ in Spanish), by taking part in the inspections conducted by OPCW in Spain, increasing its number this year.

On 11th November, the Defence Committees from the Congress and the Senate have made a visit to UVE, headed by their Presidents Agustín Conde Bajén and Santiago López Valdivieso respectively. They were accompanied by JEMAD.

Conferences about UVE have been given in various Armed Forces forums and organisms and outside them. Some examples can be the Crisis Management Course held at University Carlos III, the Defence Attachés and Advisers Course, the Uniformed Police Commands Course and the 1st National Defence Course for Young People.

Looking ahead to 2015, UVE, in addition to its usual activities, has two major challenges, both coming from VD11 obligations. The first one is the organization of the Triple Event (Visits to Military Facility, to Air Base and Showing of New Types of Arms), to be held in May. The second one is the participation in the Trident Juncture 15 exercise in November, being this exercise of mandatory notification and observation according to the provisions of the Document.