The head of the Spanish contingent in Lebanon reassures the families of the 473 BRIPAC soldiers who remain in the UN mission

News - 2023.11.8

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The acting Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, visited the VI Parachute Brigade 'Almogávares' (BRIPAC), in Paracuellos del Jarama (Madrid), where she praised the work of this unit and the mission that 473 of its soldiers have been carrying out in Lebanon for six months, at a delicate time following the crisis between Israel and Gaza that began on 7 October.

The BRIPAC contingent will return to Spain at the end of this month when it completes its contribution to the United Nations (UNIFIL) BRILIB XXXIX mission to support the monitoring of the separation line between Lebanon and Israel, known as the 'Blue Line'. "This is a very important mission, at a very important time. The UN mission and the fact that you are there at such a difficult time for the world is very reassuring," said Robles.

"I want to express all my pride. They are prepared, doing a great job and leaving the Spanish flag flying very high", added the acting Minister for Defence.

During the visit to the 'Príncipe' base, the acting minister held a videoconference with the head of the contingent deployed in Lebanon, Brigadier General Luis Fernández Herrero, who commands the Multinational Brigade of the Eastern sector, made up of 3,500 soldiers from nine countries. The general described the situation in the area in recent days and sent a message of calm to the families of the deployed soldiers.

"We will continue to work until the last day as if it were the first and I want to convey that everyone is well. I want to give the families some peace of mind," said General Fernández Herrero. "Obviously, the dangerous situation has increased, but we have taken the necessary measures, and we have also increased the security of the contingent exponentially," he added.

The UN mission in Lebanon is tasked with monitoring the cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, assisting the Government of Lebanon in exercising its sovereignty in southern Lebanon and accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces in providing stability and security in the region and along the 'Blue Line', as well as ensuring humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

Spain has been participating in the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) mission since 2006, with the aim of maintaining international peace and security and helping the Lebanese government to re-establish its authority in the area.

"Everyone is working, looking forward to their return and very proud of the work being done by the entire Spanish BRIPAC contingent in general, and in particular how you are leading and directing everything," said Robles.

Forthcoming exercises

During the visit, the acting Minister for Defence attended a briefing by the head of the 4th Parachute Infantry Regiment 'Nápoles', Colonel Francisco Calvo, who explained that the unit is continuing with its training and instruction activities planned for this year and next, including several multinational exercises.

"Part of BRIPAC is deployed in Lebanon, but we are continuing with all our own preparedness activities. This is all part of the day-to-day work of the Parachute Brigade," explained Colonel Calvo. "It's been a very intense year.

Between now and the end of the year, BRIPAC will take part in exercise 'Listed Paratrooper' 23, which the colonel described as "the main paratrooper exercise and one of the most complete in recent years". Also in December, it will carry out exercise 'Trueno' 23, at the army's San Gregorio and Chinchilla manoeuvre fields.

By 2024, the colonel added, BRIPAC will participate in the multinational exercise 'Swift Response', in Romania and Sweden, and will foreseeably deploy to Slovakia as part of the 'Strong Cohesion' exercise.

The acting minister concluded the tour with a visit to the urban training area and the parachute training centre.

Non official translation