Guerrilla Special Forces in Latin America
The story of the Salvadoran FES would not be complete without reference to the special forces groups of other Latin American revolutions. Because of the constant contact between Latin American revolutionary groups, the guerrilla special forces units, prior to the Salvadoran struggle, influenced operations carried out by the Salvadoran FES. During and after the Salvadoran war, the success of the FES influenced the creation and operations of guerrilla special forces units in other Latin American struggles. There is now some unconfirmed evidence that suggests the possibility that FES principles and concepts have been spread beyond the borders of Latin America, appearing in Africa and Asia.
The first guerrilla special forces were developed in the Cuban Revolution, during 1959. By this time, Castro's guerrilla columns were essentially conventional forces that were directly challenging equal size and greater units of the armed forces of the Batista regime. Special units were created to carry out dangerous missions during these battles. Often, the special units would be employed to revive a battle that had bogged down into deadlock. This consisted of destroying or neutralizing an enemy strong point or heavy weapons position. A good example of this type of unit was Che Guevara's column "suicide platoon." The suicide platoon was composed of combat- proven volunteers. It received the toughest assignments during combat, but also received the best equipment, food, and an assured place in history. Every time one of its members died, a new candidate was chosen. This happened after nearly every battle, as one or more of the members of this platoon were almost always killed or severely wounded. It was considered