Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Spanish military Industry

Most items in the Spanish general budget have been cut: the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality has been cut in 13.7%, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports has been cut in 21.2%, but the Ministry of Defence has only been cut in 8.8%. The Spanish Government justifies it by stating that national defence cannot be left aside, as if education and health services could… It is more dangerous to leave people without education and health care rather than an unlikely invasion. Even Fernando García Sánchez, Chief of Defence (which is the maximum authority in the Spanish Army after the King) admitted last April in an interview that, currently, the worst threat for Spain is the financial crisis.
The other argument to justify the budget of the Ministry of Defence is the financial importance of the Spanish arms industry, allegedly employing many people, so it would not be wise to cut this sector if we want to emerge from this economic crisis. However, the report El complejo militar-industrial: un parásito en la economía española (the military industry: a parasite for the Spanish economy) by the Centre Delàs, an observatory on disarmament, arms trade, armed conflict and culture of peace, seems to refute this argument. The military industry is not so important for the Spanish economy; on the contrary, it is even counterproductive. Let’s analyse some figures.
The Spanish military industry reported a turnover of 6,560 million euros in 2009. It is quite a lot of money, but it represents only 1.24% of the total Spanish industrial production. Arm exports, which kill many civilians all around the world, stand for 0.6% of the total Spanish exports. In short, getting rid of the Spanish military industry would not be so bad for the Spanish economy, and in fact it would mean getting rid of an industry which promotes world injustice and social differences between rich and poor people. As for the workers who would lose their jobs, it is only 1.1% of the workers of the Spanish industry (29,000 people).
Also, we must bear in mind that this sector requires a significant expenditure, paid by Spanish citizens. The Ministry of Defence (that is, Spanish citizens) owes 37,000 million euros to the military industry, increasing the Spanish public deficit. But which companies make up the so-called Spanish military industry? There are about 500 companies supplying arms and services to the Ministry of Defence, but 4 of them represent 75.4% of the total military turnover:
  • Navantia, manufacturing warships for the Spanish Navy.
  • EADS-Casa, devoted to military aeronautics.
  • Santa Bárbara / General Dynamics, manufacturing light and heavy weaponry for the Spanish Army.
  • INDRA, specialized in electronic components and new technologies for weaponry.
To end up with this post, we give you the proposals suggested by the authors of the above-mentioned report in order to reduce the negative impact of the military industry on the Spanish economy. First, we should reduce the number of soldiers of the Spanish Army in order to cut arms expenditure. Secondly, we should not buy any more material. Thirdly, we should not give any more credits for military R+D to the above-mentioned companies. And last but not least, we should restructure the military industry into civil industry so that factories are not shut down and job posts can be kept. In other words: we should turn the Spanish military industry into something useful.

  1. Cuts in each Spanish Ministry:
  2. Interview to Fernando García Sánchez, Chief of Defence:
  3. El complejo militar-industrial. Un parásito en la economía española, a report by Centre Delàs, observatory on disarmament, arms trade, armed conflict and culture of peace:
  4. Post at Delivering Data about the exportation of cluster bombs to Gaddafi’s Libya:
  5. Navantia:
  6. EADS-Casa:
  7. General Dynamics/Santa Bárbara:
  8. Indra:


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