Strategy and Tactics of the Salvadoran FMLN Guerrillas: Last Battle of the Cold War, Blueprint for Future Conflicts

By José Angel Moroni Bracamonte; David E. Spencer | Go to book overview

of those that had fallen. This was not unlike the draft and induction methods adopted by armed forces all over the globe. Through this ingenious departure from ideology the FMLN secured a constant supply of trained recruits to maintain its required force levels. Toward the end of the war, the levels of regulars dropped off. This was largely due to depopulation in the war zones and to the great number of casualties suffered by the FMLN in the latter half of the 1980s. The FMLN lost more people than it could replace; however, there was a vast increase in the numbers of people in FMLN auxiliary organizations, such as mass fronts, militias, and so on. Recruiters, or expansionists (as the FMLN called them) were people of very high rank and importance. Recruiting for the FMLN was considered as important as the actual fighting of the war itself.

These three elements-foreign aid, operational flexibility, and expansion -- were the three fundamental elements that allowed the FMLN to survive twelve long years of war. Without one of the triad, the FMLN would have been defeated in short order, like the vast majority of Latin American guerrilla organizations that had come before. However, what must be pointed out is that despite the three elements, the FMLN was unable to come to power through violence. The Salvadoran government, and particularly the armed forces, proved to be as resilient, tough, and resourceful as the FMLN. Starting from disadvantage, they fought the guerrillas to a standstill and forced them to the negotiating table. In the end, the armed forces survived as an institution and the FMLN was forced to become a disarmed political party with the right to participate in national politics like all other political parties. 8 Any political power obtained by the FMLN in El Salvador has been and will be through the ballot box, not the bullet.


NOTES
1.
Thomas P. Anderson, Matanza: El Salvadors's Communist Revolt of 1932 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971).
2.
The information in this first section is based on four sources: Gabriel Zaid, "Enemy Colleagues: A Reading of the Salvadoran Tragedy", Dissent (Winter 1982). FMLN, La Guerra Revolucionara del Pueblo ( El Salvador: Publicaciones FMLN, 1987), captured from guerrillas in 1989. FPL, Nacimiento de la Lucha Armada en El Salvador ( El Salvador, n.d.), captured from guerrillas at unknown date. U.S. Department of State, The Guerrilla Movement in El Salvador ( Washington, D.C., July 1987).
3.
Gabriel Zaid, "Enemy Colleagues: A Reading of the Salvadoran Tragedy", Dissent (Winter 1982).
4.
U.S. Department of State, The Guerrilla Movement in El Salvador ( Washington, D.C., July 1987).

-10-

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Strategy and Tactics of the Salvadoran FMLN Guerrillas: Last Battle of the Cold War, Blueprint for Future Conflicts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acronyms ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Background to the Insurgent Movement in El Salvador 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - FMLN Strategy 13
  • Notes 39
  • 3 - General Organization of the Insurgent Movement in El Salvador 43
  • 4 - Force Categories of the FMLN 53
  • Notes 71
  • 5 - Special Select Forces (FES) 73
  • Notes 92
  • 6 - FMLN Battle Tactics 93
  • Notes 113
  • 7 - Urban Combat Tactics 115
  • Notes 137
  • 8 - Defensive Guerrilla Tactics 139
  • Notes 172
  • 9 - Guerrilla Logistics/Support/ Sanctuary 175
  • Notes 186
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 193
  • About the Authors *
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