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

CHAPTER 5
Special Forces of the FAL

The first FAL special forces unit was known as the U-24 formed in mid- 1982 at Palo Grande, Suchitoto. It was originally made up of 24 men trained in Cuba. Besides the U-24, two other special operations units were formed. A special forces platoon called commandos of the BRAC or COBRAC was formed to give the FAL's maneuver battalion its own organic FES capability, rather than always being dependent on the U-24 units under the command of the FAL high command. The final unit was the "Panteras" (Panthers), organized at the beginning of 1985. This unit was formed after the COBRAC and U-24 were fused and transferred to high command control. The Panthers were a unit consisting of a couple of FES-type squads. They were part of the Jacobo Campos Valle column, one of the company- size units of the BRAC. With the loss of the COBRAC, the formation of the Panthers again gave the BRAC its own, organic FES capability. All the FAL special forces units were based on the range of hills between Guazapa and the San Salvador volcano, some of the main strongholds of the FMLN guerrillas, particularly of the FAL and the RN factions.

The U-24 participated alongside the FPL FES in the attack on the 4th Brigade in December of 1983. Little is known about their other operations prior to 1985. However, because of the nearness of these units to El Salvador's cities, the U-24 often conducted urban operations or operations in conjunction with urban units.


MARIONA PRISON BREAK (JULY 14, 1985)

On August 3, 1984, some members of the U-24 carried out an unauthorized assault on a bank in Soyapango to gain funds for their platoon. The robbery failed, and the bank was surrounded by the Treasury police.

-109-

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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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