Chief of Staff of the Army (Spain)

The Chief of Staff of the Army (JEME) is a military office held by a four-star general in the Spanish Army. Because of this, the JEME is the principal advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff on ground warfare and it's also an advisor to the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Under Secretary of Defence.

Chief of Staff of the Army
Jefe de Estado Mayor del Ejército de Tierra
Coat of Arms of the Office of the JEME
Flag of the Chief of Staff of the Army
General of the Army
Francisco Javier Varela Salas

since 31 March 2017
Army Staff
Ministry of Defence
StyleThe Most Excellent
StatusHighest-ranking officer in the Army
Member ofArmy Staff
National Defence Council
Council of Chiefs of Staff
Reports toMinister of Defence
SeatBuenavista Palace, Army Headquarters, Madrid
NominatorDefence Minister
After being discussed in the Council of Ministers
Countersigned by the Defence Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrumentLaw of July 17, 1904
FormationDecember 13, 1904
First holderCamilo García de Polavieja
DeputySecond Chief of Staff of the Army
Website(in Spanish) Website of the Spanish Army Staff

Under the authority of the defence minister, the Chief of Staff of the Army exercises command over the land branch of the Armed Forces.

The JEMA has two main roles: the support role by which advices the Minister of Defence about the land military policy, the JEMAD about how to use the personnel and their operative status, the SEDEF about the economic, armamentistic and infraestructure policies and the Under Secretary about the personnel and teaching policy, and the operative role by which prepare the force for combat, instructs the military personnel, establishes the organization of its military branch and watches over the welfare of the personnel under his command and evaluates the needs of the Army.

The Chief of the Staff of the Army convenes the meetings and coordinates the efforts of the Army Staff (EME), the main support body of the JEMA responsible for providing the necessary elements of judgment to base its decisions, translate these into orders and ensure their fulfillment. The EME has a whole body of military officers at its service, and among the main officers include the Second Chief of Staff of the Army, General Chief of the Terrestrial Headquarters of High Availability, the Chief of the Land Force and the General Chief of the Command of Personnel of the Army, among others.

The position is currently held by Army General Francisco Javier Varela Salas.[1]


The creation of an Army Staff (Estado Mayor Central del Ejército) (EMCE) was planned on the Law of 17 July 1904 by which the Ministry of War was authorized to modify its structure. On December 13, 1904, the Minister of War approved a Regulation developing that structure and creating the Army Staff and in front of it a Chief of Staff. The JEME needed to be a lieutenant general and at the same time was created the office of the Second Chief of Staff of the Army with the rank of divisional general.[2] On May 30, 1907, the National Defence Board and the JEME was part of it.[3]

The EMCE was suppressed on December 29, 1912 and it was replaced by a section called Section of Army Staff and Campaign and the powers of the JEME were assumed by the Under Secretary of War.[4]

The need to recover the Army Staff did not take long to appear and in November 1915 the Council of Ministers approved the draft bill of the Army Staff[5] that was approved by the Cortes Generales and on January 26, 1916 the EMCE was re-created with mere technical functions, because it had no executive functions and was only granted such in times of war.

In this new law the position was reserved to captain general or lieutenant general officers and in times of war it was granted to the JEME total command of the Army unless the King put himself in charge of it. The JEME was indistinctly titled Chief of the Army Staff or General Chief of the Army Staff.[6]

In 1925, the EMCE was once again suppressed and the functions of the JEME were assumed directly by the Minister of War, and the Directorate-General of Campaign Preparation, which served as the Army Staff, was created.[7] It was recovered by the provisional government of the second republic in July 1931.[8]

During the Civil War, as with the rest of the military branches, each side created its own General Staff. With the end of the civil war, the Francoist government maintained the structure of the Army Staff that existed previously, and did not change until the arrival of democracy, which changed the name of Chief of the Central Staff of the Army to Chief of Staff of the Army in 1977.[9]

List of Chiefs of Staff of the Army

No. Image Name Appointed Dismissed Time in office
Lieutenant general
Camilo García de Polavieja
25 December 190419 March 19061 year, 84 days
Lieutenant general
Vicente Martitegui
23 March 19068 November 19082 years, 230 days
Lieutenant general
Diego de los Ríos
8 March 190914 January 1910312 days
Lieutenant general
Julián González Parrado
14 January 191027 December 19122 years, 348 days
Office suppressed between 1916 and 1922
Captain general of the Army
Valeriano Weyler
14 January 19165 January 19225 years, 356 days
Lieutenant general
Luis Aizpuru y Mondéjar
7 January 192227 May 19231 year, 140 days
Captain general of the Army
Valeriano Weyler
28 July 19236 October 19252 years, 70 days
Office suppressed between 1925 and 1931
Divisional general
Manuel Goded Llopis
31 July 193130 June 1932335 days
Divisional general
Carlos Masquelet
17 February 19334 April 19352 years, 46 days
Divisional general
Francisco Franco
19 May 193523 February 1936280 days
Divisional general
José Sánchez-Ocaña Beltrán
23 February 193619 July 1936147 days
Civil War
Divisional general
Toribio Martínez Cabrera
19 July 193620 May 1937305 days
Divisional general
Vicente Rojo Lluch
20 May 19379 February 19391 year, 265 days
Fidel Dávila Arrondo
2 October 193630 September 19392 years, 363 days
End of the Civil War
Artillery Colonel
Carlos Martínez de Campos y Serrano
30 September 193912 May 19411 year, 224 days
Brigadier general
Carlos Asensio Cabanillas
12 May 19414 September 19421 year, 115 days
Divisional general
Rafael García Valiño
4 September 194224 March 19507 years, 201 days
Lieutenant general
Fernando Barron
24 March 19509 November 19522 years, 230 days
Lieutenant general
Emilio Esteban Infantes
9 November 19525 October 19552 years, 330 days
Lieutenant general
Antonio Alcubilla Pérez
5 October 195527 April 19593 years, 204 days
Lieutenant general
José Cuesta Monereo
27 April 195930 December 19612 years, 247 days
Lieutenant general
Valero Valderrábanos Samitier
30 December 196116 November 1962321 days
Lieutenant general
Ramón Gotarredona Prats
16 November 196225 October 1963343 days
Lieutenant general
Rafael Cavanillas Prosper
25 October 196313 July 19651 year, 261 days
Lieutenant general
César Mantilla Lautrec
6 August 196518 June 19682 years, 317 days
Lieutenant general
Fernando González-Camino y Aguirre
18 June 19682 July 19713 years, 14 days
Lieutenant general
Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba y Ziburu
2 July 197112 November 19732 years, 133 days
Lieutenant general
Emilio Villaescusa Quilis
12 November 19731 July 19762 years, 232 days
Lieutenant general
Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado
1 July 197626 October 1976117 days
Lieutenant general
Ramón Cuadra Medina
3 November 197613 January 197771 days
Lieutenant general
José Vega Rodríguez
[lower-alpha 1]
13 January 197724 May 19781 year, 131 days
Lieutenant general
Tomás de Liniers y Pidal
[lower-alpha 1]
24 May 197818 May 1979359 days
Lieutenant general
José Gabeiras
[lower-alpha 2]
18 May 197915 January 19822 years, 242 days
Lieutenant general
Ramón Ascanio y Togores
[lower-alpha 2]
15 January 198211 January 19841 year, 361 days
Lieutenant general
José Sáenz de Tejada y Fernández de Bobadilla
[lower-alpha 2]
11 January 198431 October 19862 years, 293 days
Lieutenant general
Miguel Íñiguez del Moral
[lower-alpha 2]
31 October 198618 May 19903 years, 199 days
Lieutenant general
Ramón Porgueres Hernández
[lower-alpha 2]
18 May 199014 February 19943 years, 272 days
Lieutenant general
José Faura Martín
[lower-alpha 2]
14 February 19941 October 19984 years, 229 days
General of the Army
Alfonso Pardo de Santayana y Coloma
1 October 199817 January 20034 years, 108 days
General of the Army
Luis Alejandre Sintes
17 January 200325 June 20041 year, 160 days
General of the Army
José Antonio García González
25 June 200428 April 20061 year, 307 days
General of the Army
Carlos Villar Turrau
28 April 200618 July 20082 years, 81 days
General of the Army
Fulgencio Coll Bucher
(born 1948)
18 July 200827 July 20124 years, 9 days
General of the Army
Jaime Domínguez Buj
(born 1952)
27 July 201231 March 20174 years, 247 days
General of the Army
Francisco Javier Varela Salas
(born 1952)
31 March 2017Incumbent2 years, 249 days

See also


  1. Promoted posthumously to General of the Army in 1999.
  2. Promoted to General of the Army ad honorem in 1999.


  1. El Consejo de Ministros aprueba el nombramiento de los nuevos jefes de Estado Mayor de Tierra, Armada y Aire
  2. "Real decreto reorganizando el Ministerio de la Guerra y demás dependencias de la Administración central" (PDF). 13 December 1904.
  3. "Real decreto disponiendo que el Subsecretario del Ministerio de la Guerra forme parte, en reemplazo del Jefe del Estado Mayor Central del Ejército, de la Junta de Defensa Nacional, creada por el Real decreto de 30 de Mayo de 1907" (PDF).
  4. "Royal decree suppressing the Central Staff of the Army and the General Inspectorate of the Establishments of Instruction and Military Industry; organizing a Section that will be called the General Staff and Campaign and reorganizing the distribution of personnel affairs and staff of this Ministry, in accordance with the provisions of the Budget Law for 1913" (PDF). 29 December 1912.
  5. "Royal Decree authorizing the Minister of War to present a bill to the Cortes organizing the Army Staff" (PDF). 9 November 1915.
  6. "Royal decree that creates the Army Staff" (PDF). 26 January 1916.
  7. "Royal decree suppressing the Central Staff of the Army and the Undersecretariat of the Ministry of War, and creating an auxiliary Secretariat and two General Directorates that will be called Instruction and Administration and Campaign Preparation respectively" (PDF). 15 December 1925.
  8. "Decree providing that, depending on the Central Staff, there is an organization with the title of "Center for Higher Military Studies", whose essential mission is to prepare and develop the preparation courses of Coroneles for promotion" (PDF). 23 July 1931.
  9. "Royal Decree 2723/1977, of November 2, by which the Ministry of Defense is structured organically and functionally". 2 November 1977.
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