Created: 12/1/1989

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Special Analysis

EL SALVADOR: MIHiarj Capabilities of Both Sides

Tie Sahadoran inturgtnts, mindful of lie political gains lo te made by continuing to demonstrate their military liability, are maintaining pressure In toe capital.ear *ed large-scale offensive cannot he ruled out, they art more likely to continue high-profile attacks in stltcttd artas, particularly San Salvador. The armed forces, having borne the brunt of tht rtbelt'nationwide attacks, now appear to bt reacting to gutrrilta iniliatires. |

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Rebel commanders probably believe continued aiiacks are necessaryreserve iheir credibility with both foreign supporters and tbe FMLN rank and tile, to make the government look weak, and toightwing backlash that wouldedge between Washington and San Salvador. They probably hope as well to strengthen their negotiating posilion for when talks eventually resume and to make Washington reconsider military aid to Sanhowing that the war is "unwinnablc.'

The insurgents have not yet withdrawn to their base areas along the northern border with Honduras, choosing to maintain substantial forces around the capital and other major cities. I

The rebels also may mass their forces for an atten'.pt toey miliiary facility. The FMLN has not managed to carry out such an operation sinceut its chances for success probably have improved with the acquisition of the Sa-he seizure or destruction of an Army base, usingissiles to stave off government air support, would give theajor tactical and propagandal)

Manpower Losses

The FMLN took heavySalvadoran0 rebels were killed and atmany of the casualties were

hastily trained militia, new conscripts, and front group members who swelled the ranks of-an insurgent force during


(he recent offensive. Although some low-level commands* rcpoJtcdl} have been killed or captured, the senior leadership has remained safely in Managua during the recent fighting.1

SuppK Situation

The FMLN's ability to prc-position sufficient supplies in the capital io sustain the offensive is one of its most significant achicvemcnis-Thcrc arc no indications the rebels arc running low on weapons or ammunition, although some units probably arc short of food and medicine. The armed forces, acting on Information from captured

of Ocncnimcnt Forces

The Arm} has deployed most of its uniti to root out rebel enclavescapital and othct cities and to defend Axed insiatlanonsto pursue and strike the hiahl) mobile insunjenta Thereserves were used dunna the offensive, and manypulled from the field to reinforce ihe capital. Some Armythe capital apparently have been partially successful inmovements in and out of the city, but unfamiliarily withand concern about civilian casualties have impeded


Even if regular FMLN units return to their pairs loon, some urban romtruados almost certainly will remain in thenormal complement is aboutcontinue (erroriutv harassment, and sabotage. The FMLN almost certainty wiil continue to try to assailinate key officials and their families in an effort toightwing backlash and to destabilize the govcrnmem. If the rebeli succeed in assassinating certain leaders, such as President Cristiani or Army Chiefsnipers reportedly fired at tbe Presidents house Wednesdaymay be able io take advantage of the resulting confusion toheir forcesew

large-icale offensive. (

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