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 7
Conclusions and Analysis

This book is a historical and technical study of the relatively unknown phenomenon of guerrilla special forces, particularly those in El Salvador, with some discussion of other Latin American cases to show the development and continuity of the ideas. Guerrilla special forces are not a new or unique phenomenon. As discussed in the chapter preceding this, most of the important Latin American guerrilla organizations created special forces units of one type or another. Some were more effective than others, and some were more special than others (by special we imply trained in "special" skills). Almost all were created at a moment in history when guerrilla forces were rapidly expanding and developing semiconventional and conventional capabilities. Special units were created to retain and expand unconventional and irregular warfare capabilities and to enhance the operations of the new conventional units. The development of guerrilla special forces reached its zenith during the Salvadoran revolution of 1979- 1992. During this time, guerrilla special forces carried out the most spectacularly successful special operations that had ever been carried out on the continent.

The dynamics that made this possible were the accumulation of experience from the Cuban Revolution down to El Salvador, and more important, the infusion of Vietnamese sapper/commando techniques that had been developed and honed over the long years of war against the French, South Vietnamese, and the United States. This aspect of the Vietnam War must have been seriously overlooked by the U.S. advisers in El Salvador, as it was not until late in the war in El Salvador that special forces attacks using Vietnamese techniques became less effective against the Salvadoran army. However, they remained sufficiently effective to be transferred to Guatemala, and probably Mexico, where only time will tell if the Guatemalan

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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 1 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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