From Vietnam to El Salvador: The Saga of the FMLN Sappers and Other Guerrilla Special Forces in Latin America

By David E. Spencer | Go to book overview

Introduction

During the armed conflict carried out in El Salvador against International Communism during the decade of the 1980s, both the armed forces and the FMLN continually developed the use of special forces as the mechanism to defeat strategic objectives. However, the FMLN FES also played an important role at other levels, such as the operational and tactical levels.

The concept of the use of the FES by the FMLN came onto the Salvadoran scene as one of the contributions of Cuba during 1981 and 1982. Insurgent elements from the ERP and the FPL were given training in the school at Matanzas, Cuba. Later, this program was extended to the other organizations of the FMLN such as the FAL, RN, and the PRTC. However, these latter groups did not produce as spectacular results. The politico- military leadership of the ERP and FPL did apply the special forces concept in the strategic context. They used the FES against big objectives in the rear areas of the armed forces, especially against economic objectives that affected things on a national scale. Examples of this are the downing of the Oro and Cuzcatlan bridges. In real terms, the destruction of these bridges was an attempt to isolate the eastern region of the country and establish liberated territory.

In simplified form, the FMLN FES applied their efforts on the different war fronts in the following manner.

On the strategic level, they made efforts against strategic targets such as the vital installations of the Air Force, the Third Brigade, the Fourth Brigade, and the CEMFA (Armed Forces Training Center). They attacked the headquarters of these units, causing terrible damage to equipment and personnel.

At the operational level, the FES acted with less intensity against the operating units of the armed forces. In other words, they attacked the im

-ix-

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From Vietnam to El Salvador: The Saga of the FMLN Sappers and Other Guerrilla Special Forces in Latin America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acronyms vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter I Guerrilla Special Forces of El Salvador: the Fpl, Vietnam, and Cuba 1
  • Chapter 2 Fmln Special Forces Techniques 17
  • Notes 46
  • Chapter 3 Fpl Special Forces Operations 47
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 4 Erp Operations 77
  • Notes 106
  • Chapter 5 Special Forces of the Fal 109
  • Notes 125
  • Chapter 6 Guerrilla Special Forces in Latin America 127
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter 7 Conclusions and Analysis 147
  • Bibliography 163
  • Index 167
  • About the Author 171
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