Special Select Forces (FES)
The FES 1 were the highest category of combat unit of the FMLN. They are discussed in a separate chapter because the nature of the units and their tactics were unique. Although they were the highest category of FMLN force, the gulf between the FES units and the strategic mobile forces was far greater than the distinction between the militias and the regular force guerrillas. Their mission was to attack and destroy objectives deep in the enemy rear to eliminate the army's strategic and tactical advantage. Their role was to act as equalizers. They were the guerrillas' substitute for heavy artillery and aviation. 2 The personnel were selected from among the best of the strategic mobile forces.
The first members of the FES were trained in Cuba between 1980 and 1982. The FPL and the ERP were the strongest organizations of the FMLN, and these created their own FES units to carried out their strategic and tactical plans.
The FPL developed organizational concepts on FES as early as 1979. At this time they conceived of three categories of special forces: sapper commandos, combat swimmers, and urban commandos. The sapper commandos were to be modeled on the Vietnamese sappers who had successfully carried out operations against U.S. and South Vietnamese installations and units during the conflict in that country. The combat swimmers were to operate in the many rivers, lakes, and on the long coast line of El Salvador. Their mission would be to destroy strategic bridges and Salvadoran naval assets to facilitate the free flow of weapons