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Tercio de Armada (TEAR)

As Brigadier General of the “Tercio de Armada” I am pleased to welcome you to the website of this important element of the Spanish Navy. You will learn not only about the present situation and tasks of the Unit, but also of the glorious traditions of the past. The Tercios are the heirs of the oldest Marine Corps in the world (1537).

The Tercio de Armada, along with the Protection Force and the Special Naval Warfare Force, is an essential part of the Marine Corps and is under the command of the Commandant General of the Marine Corps (Major General).

The Tercio de Armada is the expeditionary component of the Force and, as part of the naval force projection capability, is tasked with coastal operations. However, its combat capabilities also permit this Unit to operate inland far from the coast, integrated into other operational units.

In the different links of this website you will be able to “disembark” in each one of our units and get to know the men and women who make up the Corps, their missions, training, etc. In the picture gallery you will find photos of Marines on board ships, helicopters, assault craft, tanks and amphibious vehicles in different scenarios, both at home and abroad. Marines with state-of-the-art equipment working in extreme conditions, but also Marines dressed in colorful uniforms.

The Tercio de Armada Headquarters are located in San Fernando (Cádiz) where the Marine Corps established itself in 1769 at the Battalions Barracks. It is very close to Rota Naval Base where the amphibious ships are based and the “Sierra del Retín” range, where landings, amphibious exercises and firing drills are carried out.

The Tercio de Armada, under the command of a Brigadier General (GETEAR) consists of the Marine Corps Brigade (BRIMAR) and the Base Unit. The Brigade is in charge of carrying out the specific task of the Marines. They make up the Landing Force of the Amphibious Force. The latter is tasked with the logistic support of the BRIMAR.

The Marine Corps Brigade is an organic group of combat and combat support units, as well as combat service support elements. It is self-sufficient depending on the size and scheduled duration of the deployment.

The distinctive feature of the BRIMAR is not only its expeditionary and amphibious nature, but also the way different elements are integrated. For support, the BRIMAR is sustained by the assets and platforms from which it operates. These characteristics, as well as its specific training, turn the BRIMAR into an elite unit, perfect for expeditionary missions.

The great flexibility of the BRIMAR lies in the variety of its capabilities to use different and complementary assets such as fast boats, helicopters, assault craft, amphibious and armored vehicles, paratroopers, etc.

The Commanding Officer of the BRIMAR is a Brigadier General who is assisted by a MC Colonel and his Staff.

Its organic structure includes eight groups under the command of their respective Lieutenant-Colonels:

  • Headquarters Battalion
  • 1st Landing Battalion
  • 2nd Landing Battalion
  • 3rd Mechanized Battalion
  • Reconnaissance Unit
  • Amphibious Mobility Group
  • Landing Artillery Group
  • Combat Service Support Group

As a custodian of a tradition of nearly five centuries a Marine is, above all, an elite rifleman trained to fight and never surrender.

A typical working day starts at 7.30 am with a demanding routine of physical training. After that, there are tactical exercises with armored vehicles, inflatable craft, NBQ equipment, fast-rope training, or cross-country marches. All these activities are complemented with day and night firing drills at the different ranges.

The “Sierra del Retín” (CASR) range in Cádiz can be considered as the second home of any Spanish Marine. Most landings and other amphibious operations are carried out there. It is very close to other important naval centers: San Fernando, Cádiz and Rota, where the Fleet amphibious ships are docked.

The extensive grounds permit exercises with infantry and heavy weapons, and the deployment of a full brigade with all its personnel and equipment. Thanks to its excellent characteristics, multiple national and international amphibious exercises are scheduled every year at the CASR with U.S., NATO, EU and Moroccan forces.

Given its expeditionary nature Tercio de Armada members also train in other Spanish Navy and Army ranges: Álvarez de Sotomayor in Almería, Teleno in León, San Gregorio in Zaragoza, Pájara in the Canary Islands, Chinchilla in Albacete and Candanchú in Huesca.

Likewise, Tercio de Armada units carry out landings and amphibious exercises in foreign ranges like the Italian Capo Teulada in the south of Sardinia, Turkey, Egypt or Norway.

Some specific training like anti-tank or anti-air missile exercises are usually carried out in Army ranges.

The origin of the Tercio de Armada can be found in the Special Group set up in 1957 in San Fernando. This unit resulted from a combination of different groups: the Southern and Northern Tercios, the Support Group, etc. This Special Group was under the command of a Brigadier General.

The Group was short-lived. In 1961 the Spanish Navy established the Amphibious Command assigning ad-hoc naval assets to carry out all the amphibious operations. This Group also helped in the evacuation of Spanish citizens from Equatorial Guinea after its independence in 1969.

The traditional and ancient denomination “Tercio de Armada” was recovered in 1968, becoming the core of the Marine Corps forces. Its coat of arms has a crowned two-headed eagle holding in its claws the two crests of the “Tercio de Armada del Mar Océano” (1566) and the “Tercio Nuevo de la Armada del Mar Océano” (1682).

In 1975, the Tercio de Armada embarked in Amphibious Command ships, ready to defend the Spanish interest in Western Sahara.

As of 1996 different Tercio de Armada units have taken part in many international deployments in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Lebanon and Afghanistan.


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