Created: 12/14/1983

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Waning Notice Somltivt Intalicwtnc* Sc>urets and Method*(WNINTELJ

NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION Unoutrvorized Ditdoturt Subjoet tonciior




Diul. In-ill CW,




near-term military prospects for el salvador

Infrxrrutlortf ISon! loillon of ihii fjlimitr



The foMowing inftftgorxe orgex*ia1iotn portK-pcted in thai preparation of tha


Thai CannotAganty. th* Mm*Ao**cy.Soeuflry Arjtocy, endttoortiiatkvi of it*of Srtrto.


Aiiittctrrl Chitf ol S'oM for hrtolio^re-i. Doporttrwn* otArrnytctor of Nerval 'fNert*

Tho Chief of Shaft. iMatajara Oarwtrrwtrtt of ths Air 'ore*

Th* Dfroctor of IrrttflLjanc*.Marina Corp*










gwuu Im emmh

The Salvadoran Armed "


Hlitorical Content

Improvement and Impact of US

Tactical and Logistic Pn>blems

Attitudinal and Inst.tutional

Officer Corps

Prospects for Full

rfuUlluiiP Willi Ufl

Prospects for Military

Outlook Through

Preelection Tactical Situation


Political and Economic


Implications for the United

Arrned Forres

Auma D. SnuinT ABWrtw wf.lSalvador, fiscal1

sre-ur spoke

scope note

This Estimate assesses the military prospects for El Salvador throughhe presidentialscheduled forarchalso have important implications for the military and the war effort. This will be addressed more fullyuture estimate on El Salvador.


We believe the tactical stalemate between the Salvadoran armed forces and the insurgents of Ihe Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) probably will continue, at least throughf outside support to both sides continues at current levels, neither is likely toecisive advantage in the near term.

With US support, the armed forces have expandedotal strength ofncluding defense and public security forces. The FMLN has now reached an effective combat strength of0 armed insurgents by upgrading its militia forces through training, experience, and the acquisition of weapons. These strength figures do not represent an increase in the lotsl number of guerrillas but do reflect an important shift of those formerly regarded as "part time" guerrillas to "full time" fighters. The Salvadoran military nowanpower force ratio of onlyver the guerrillas.

The guerrillas' combat effectiveness is judged to be high because of their sound war-fighting doctrine, excellent training, goodand intelligence, and an ability to incorporate lessons learned from the fighting into their tactical and strategic thinking. The insurgents appear to do better at controlling the terms and pace of military engagements, use effective tactics, and are now capable of defeating isolated governmenl units of up to the sizehunter" battalion. Their thorough use of intelligenceajor factor behind their survival and success on the battlefield.

Nevertheless, they lack widespread popular support, in partof the popularity of agrarian reform arid other government political and economic initiatives. Moreover, the guerrillas have not yetajor city and cannot lie down or defeat government strategic units. Logistic problems and factionalism also undercut insurgent effectiveness.

The FMLN has beentrategy of military and economic attrition designed to cause the collapse of the armed forces and the government. The guerrillas probably view the national electionfor Marchajor test of tUcir forces, and weampaign of increased urban attacks and terrorism. In addition, there are indications the guerrillas may attempt lo seize andiberated zone in northern or eastern El Salvador.

secHt spoke


Cuba and probably Nicaragua arc likely Io providefor an election offensive. The US force presence in tlieand Honduran interdiction efforts, andin Nicaragua have slowed, but not stopped, outside supportLogistic support, particularly from Nicaragua, mayit probably will be adequateIhe guerriTiasaieduced level of operationsmay move to FJ Salvador fiom Nicaragua, particularlyguerrillasiberated zone. It probably would bel Eli'jh lain intQ

The insurgents will not be able to achieve victory withoutpopular support, bul. if they should get adequate logistic support, they are likely toreater threat to US military and political objectives in El Salvador, especially the March election. The military will have to act aggressively to prevent the insurgents from seizing Ihe initiative at the time of the election. If ihe guerrillas were to be successful in undermining the March election, their near-term prospects would significantly improve. Over the nest year, the FMLN will betronger position Io exploit discontent if extreme righl terrorism continues and efforts lo roll back the reform process succeed.

US training and support have allowed the armed forces Io grow and improve andajor factor in the military's pr<?senl ability to prevent an insurgent victory. Four quick-react ion battalions and several special operations units have been organized, trained, and effectively used against the insurgents. The number of available junior officers has been increased significantly, and improvements have been made in the armed forces* technical skills. The armed forces can continue lo expand, but ihe government's ability and resolve to mobilize fully against the insurgency will be seriously constrained by the military's shortcomings and by resistance from the country's military and economic elites.

The armed forces* mobility and logistic support, though increased, have not kept pace with operational and force requirements, and more ground and air transport is needed. More (raining for departmental and security forces is also needed, and communications assets and command and control concepts are still antiquated. Uncertainty concerning the adequacy and level of US assistance also has inhibited the armed forces' conduct of the war.

The quality of ihe officer corps is relatively high, but attitud'nal problems within ihe corps will have to be overcome if ihe guerrillas are

lo he defeated. Resistance totactical and political-has impaired the ability of the officer corps to pursue the war effort optimally.

Most of the officer corps, while not opposed to reforms, distrusts the Christian Democratic Party and is susceptible to rightist political machinations that undercut its leadership and divert attention from military- operations. Recent sweeping changes have placed most maicr commands under competent leaders and should ensure the near-term unity of the armed forces. However, these changes also havethe hand of rightist officers and will inevitably impact on national politics before and after the election in March.

Despite such problems, there is little likelihood of an armed forces collapse in the near term. The officer corps is determined to defeat the guerrillas, and the enlisted ranks will fight well when properly supplied and led.

In the near term, the military is more likely to be successful if it moves to preempt rather than to react to guerrilla strategy. Reversing recent insurgent gains will be the military's most Immediate challenge. The armed forces* ability to achieve needed tactical objectives will depend on continued US aid and the continued commitment of the officer corps to the war effort. If the officers become preoccupied with partisan political maneuvers, the guerrillas might be able tond psytholoaical victory al election time.


ance" on human rlgnU issues win conn nut- to prefers lothan totactics, and ite deeply stung by any public US criticism of its war effort.

Current levels of US assistance are adequate lo enable themilitary to prevent an insurgent victory in the near term. However, the armed forces will require increased and sustained aid to overcome the present stalemate ami eventually to defeat the guerrillas. Civenilitary-to-guerrillais well below what historically has been required lo defeat anSalvadoran armed forces' manpower and firepower will not be able to expand rapidly enough toecisive advantage in the near term. However. US assistance that enhanced the military's mobility andwould increase the tactical prospects of the existing forces until these forces could be expanded over -he longer term.

Nevertheless, US military assistance alone will not soUc all the armed forces' problems. Without improvements in Salvadoran military


capabilities, some resolution of attitudinal problems in the officer corps, preservation of economic and political reforms, and neutralization of extreme right influences, the country's prospects for winning the war will be poor over the long term.

The foregoing Key Judgments section is classified




current military stalemate in El Sab adr* hj. bum in effect for virtually lhe entire course of lhe war Since lhe Insurgent; of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) bunched iheir "final offemivc" Inhe tactical balance Has cvtliihifted, variously favoring the guerrillas, the government, or neither During most of Ml. concern was high that the guerrillas might achieve sufficient momentum toecisive shift in popular support to their cause, but Salvadoran military operations were at leasttohe guerrillas of! balance] j

Improved Salvadoran military capabilities brought bv US assistance and the armed force**defense of2 elections subsequently indicated that lhe government could contain and possibly defeat thr Insurgency, given adequate US aid. However, reduced levels of proposed US assistance, emerging leadership problems, and political infighting reduced lhe armed forces' effectiveness in2 and much3 The armed forces consequently lost opportunities to deal tlie insurgents decisive blows, permitting them lo regroup, reorganize, andregain the offensive!

3 The launching of thr National CampaignOperationgov cmorces in June and the subsequent guerrilla counteroffcniive from September loas the latest iteration of (Im Irend. During the summer, government troops forced most of the insurgents from the centrally located Department of San Vicente, disrupting the FMLN's internal supplynd began efforts to establish Ihe political, economic, anj securityneededreserve these gains Meanwhile, live government for the first lime was abas able to put pressure simultaneously on guerrillas operating inareas After maintaining someercent of its Ironps in lhe field for several months, however, the military's momentum and morale declfned as logistic and leadership problems undercut further progrcss-

* The guerrillas countered with increased actions, initially in eastern FJ Salvador, overrunning bolatrd towns and attacking the department capital of San Miguel. In early November live guerrillas routed two newly organ!red and US-trained "hunter" battalions in Cuscatlan and Moraian Departments, inflicting heavy casualties and equipment losses Although ihe FMLN failed to achieve decisive momentum, it* degree of success and the relative ineffectiveness r4 the government's response underscoredmed forces" tactical and logistic shortcomings and theimpact of the military's structural and internal political problems.)

Guerrilla Situation Strengths

jwe estimate that the FMLN now has0 armede define armed insurgents as those elemenls within lhe insurgent military organization who are armed andhreat to the government of FJ Salvador. This figure does not represent an Increase in the total number of guerrillas given inull-time guerrillas and perhaps an equal number of part-time militiait does reflect an important shift of those formerly regarded as "part time"to "full time" fighters. Substantial numbers of insurgent militia members have now become better armed, are more combai rtpertenccd. and Have been more fully integrated into the evolving guerrilla military structure. The numbers abo

er force ratio ol

ver the insurgents


I Thr FMLN cnrtsislt of five fad urns and timlm-urs lo hr organized in five grographic fronts (See map,ha Farabundo Mani Popular Libera-linn Form (FPL) and lhr People'* Rcvolulinnary Arm* {FRPtarr still thr two Largest ami most powerful factions Thr KHP rt enncmlratrd mostly In ihe Eastern Fronl. while thr FPL tlomlriatr* lhr Notlhrrn and Ontral Fronts Howrver. (hr form of all five? faction* arr highly fool-mohilr and capable of deploy-iriht throughout the fronts us tactical condition- tlidatc.

7 Thr guerrilla* arr well armrdariety of nvi-ilrtn light-infantry jrxl crew-served weapons. Tltrir ability lo capture weapons from government form ha* Isren an important factor in ihrir abllilv to upgrade iheir militia forces. [

H Thr FMLN now lias actumulaled enough mod-ern wrapnryt lo arm nearlv twice a) manyat

I Balllrfirldthe growing number of capturedthe cumulative total of weapons acquired through sustained infiltrationO have significantly increased (he FMLN inventorylafal ait^ the rwd inventory' '* unknown, sufficient data have beento demnntlralr that enough modernmostly automaticaviiilabtrMo Ihe FMLN to arm both thr rrguiar* and the

forces Development of imurgenl war-fighting dot trine appears sound Possiblyesult of self-

criticism leelinkitrfs, the insurgentsincorporalinas lessons learnrC

mlo their laclicaT thinking> termable

to reconsider their strategy and reorganize andtheir form lo achieve more optimal use nf

available combat resources, at least within guerrilla

fact inns. |

he insurgents also appear better able toterms and pace of tactical engagements inThey generally avoid majorrot al limes and place* of their choosing Whendo attack, they mas* effective assaultisolate and destroy smaller government unitsdeploying adequate covering element*amhuih. and interdict government

II. Coerrilla use of tins lactic hai steadilyWhile they were successful only against small, isolated outpostshe insurgents by3 could overrun company-sire position* More recently, they haveapability against light infantry battalions when such units are poorly led andTbe guerrilla* are also adept al mythological tactics ind base been able to encourage lhr surretyder of Isolated and outnumbered government unitsthe guerrilla* continue to carryigh level of economic sabotage, murders, robberirs. andand retain the capability for ipectacularoperations)


e iudgr the coinbal effectiveness of theform to be high. Despite serious dcfeals suffered in two maior offensives1 andhe insurgentsemarkable abilityunce back and effectively exploit taclieal failures of government

he aucrrillat' ability to colleddisseminate and apply ;nirl!iBerice willajor fartor in the FMLN* success The guerrillas repeatedly have received and reacted lo early warnings of pending sweeps by lhr armed form In addition, the guerrillas fjiijkr ntpinlir IBP wf MitwiiaiaJiim1 Jild priitralroiiialii nnaiiTjknow ihe strength and disposition of government forces before an offensive ad ion besbns The guerrilla* motrover, are usually able to j( hirve surprise

also reflects in some instances poor

nsc lac'ic?

interdepartmental conciliation, (he failure of Salva-dnran commanders lo reaclj and their proclivity to rely on static del

ralher than aggressive defensive patrolling



he FMLN'i greatestts continuedf popular vupportesult of reforms, the democrat'rat ion process, and government securitythe FMLN has been singularly Ineffective in generating mast support In key urban centers Nor have lhe guerrillas been able toepartmental capital They are capable of maintaining some logistic infrastructure in the cities and of infilfating personnel for terrorist anions and limited offensives, but they will have difficulty building an adequate base to overcome main departmental units or effectivelythe governments strategic reserve forcesrequirementsuccessful final offensive

nternal factionalism will continue to plague the insurgents. Although the FMLN has probably recov-ered from the deaths of two FPL leaders last April, differences on tactics and ideology among the factions will continue to undercut unity of command and irilitatv efficiency. f*

a quick victory bv the insurgents The guerrillas have since optedar of attrition designed to wreck the economy through sabotage and to destroy andthe armed forces through annihilation tactics. The guerrillas have targeted the government'sction battalions Inttarrr-ric-struetion as-ao essential strain establishing conditions for vtctoryTTTie guerrilla TFprjnetity hBgal tliat such faeries eventually will result Tn what-"Vietnam-Style"

nUiiw to tyUti role irrrorlraying governmental and military as lr>evitablet*jfsdm crmvrwaing tin lifl id and QjiigitajtVt they ire unable

of eventsJConcurrently. the iimirmifs will continue to use negotiations as an eitertsiqff'of the war by other means. Dialogue will be pusatjed for its image-building value and toehicle foruerrilla lakeovevtn the final phases of the struggle However, thedfuerrlllas will continue to resist calls tolections as well as any proposals lhal do not provide them direct access to rvywer or ajlow x'.tm tavmaimum llgftf lllllllirv TWccT

prospccT- lor rcM^ing Insurgent difference?

remain poor.

lthough the guerrillas have captured large numbers of weaponsjj

IS The FMLN has always viewed Ihe defeatovernment in the Eastern Frontrimarybut factional differences periodically haveoverall strategic cooperation. The strategy ofthrough annihilation, however, may achieve agreement at least in principle between the two largest groups: the FPL, which favors "prolongednd the ERP. which emphasizes aggressive large-scale op-erallonsj

interdiction operalrofls nave nuui-Tesupply more difficult and have caused at least periodic shortages. Moreover, the need for clandestin-ity reduces speed and timeliness, and guerrillais likely to continue to impair supply efficiency. Shortages of food, medicine, and financing have alsoegative Impact on guerrilla morale.

he FMLN will have much difficulty achieving iu strategic objectives, given the armed forces'superiority, continued USasststance. andlack of popular support j

hile Ihe FMLN for the most part appeared intent on following an insurrectional strategy for the first years ol the war. the failure offfensive" and2 election offensivethat the tactical and political balance did not favor

lhe FPLemphasis on prolonged war andlhetailufeof all-out offensives in the past will probably keep lhe FMLN fromgo for broke" strategy in lhe near term. Such developments, however, may make the guerrillas even more intent on


as probably dissuaded them-from attempting-lo

At least

mount rnailonwrte csmpal-tni


several factions may undertake increased urbanto discourage voter turnout and possibly to elimi-nate candidates.

Weapons could be


Cuba. Nicaragua, and their Soviet backers will notii^to risk direct confrontation with the United States IntTfc^aitipri^but neither will they abandon the FMLN.irunroraMfcevwill provide enough covert assistancehort. Intense, offensive coinciding with the election.

for small-scale operations in urban centersto provoke the military into using indbcrimi-nate firepower, thus alienating thr popu^atior.

nother raid on llooango Airfield 1ZZ or attacks on selected departmental capitals

are also possible

oreover, the ERP's capabilities and strategy hm deseloped to lhe point where it mightctpiecc balllr against San Miguel or another eastern cits In addition, the guerrillas might considera liberated rone in northern and eastern El Salvador in the belief (hb would distract attention from the election The government's preoccupation with providing election security might also preclude an effective response toevelopment.

Since as early as least last spring. Cuba and Srara^Khave become increasingly concerned over theirect US military intervention in llie region TheSlSaction in Grenada has undoubtedly increased HavanaVgnd Managua's concern, but the mid-to-long-ter is still uncertain

following the election, Cuba and Nicaragua are likely torrTaTatcjathe FMLN's prospects In light of the interna! Salvadoefcs-jjhielkm and their perception of polillcal and policyhe United Stales. They may elect to reducethe insurgents to capture needed supplies. They muffia^Lso reactivate or expend infiltration networks

ild beaSK^

iSuch measures probably woul

ouate lo sustain guerrilla operations but noi large-scale


Qta^Managua may abo chooae to remove thecorrrraat/sd centers from Nicaragua.prced to deploy to Flperhaps inth the declarationliberatedsuch arraaje would haveimited impact on guerrilla operatiorbsThe insurgents' "Radio Venceremos" has Misted for yearTs^EIas did the headquarters of thr; various factions before moving to Nicaragua

Tf^noved to El Salvador. FMLN headquarters elements nughi be subject to periodic disruption by government operattons. more guerrilla forces would have to be allocateata^their defense, and some factional infighting might erraarMwer lhe location of factional or Joint headquarters On'ttaf other hand, the presence of major guerrilla leaden iivcounlry might improve insurgent coordination Wehe FMLN couldeadquarters in El Salvador at leastf Havana and Managuahange in the perceived IB ihrral. ihey might relocate It in Nicaragua]


orce presence in lh* ration. Salvadoran and Honduran interdiction efforts, and anti-Sandinista ae-jjyity in Nicaragua will also Impair KMLN rcsiipp-ly.

Sandinista activity has caused the diversion of military resource* from the FMLN to theut overland infiltration apparently is continuing in sufficient amounts- The guerrillas were able toignificant connteroffemive from September through3 despite the US presence and

increased guerrilla activity In Nicaragua Tha Solvodoron Armed Forces

Hiiforicol Conraat

he Salvadoran armed forces were ill prepared

tr. cope e<"

insurgency thai beganunctional divisions that evolved between lhrational defense and internal security roles had created two poorly inlegraled groups of forces which, separately, were Inadequate lo meet the Increased lineal The defenseof the Army. Navy, and Airtrained, organized, and equipped for cnnvcnlktnjl *or, and were oriented towardthe nation [rum foreign allark. particularly from Honduras The public securityof the National Guard. National Police, and Treasuryon maintaining internal order


ersonnel' Four quick-reaction battalions have hern trained at part of lhr country's slratrstic rpvrve form, ami their combat rffectisenrss is wHI respected by the guerrillas. The training of light infantry "hunter" battalions as drpartmmlal reaction force* li also proceeding Sperialiied unil* such a*rols and naval commando unit* have similarly been organized and used effectively inside guerrilla-dominated areas Tactical employment has abo improved- Small-unit opei'tiom and night jm-bushrs haw irwrrased. ji least by tbe bettrr (rained units

malt-unit leadership has been qualitativelyincreased by trainingofficers and by programs to improve thecorps of rKincommiuioned officers inUS assistance abo ha* enhanced the skill*maintenance rlemenl* and nude someto staff planning at both national andlevel*


... a* Incrcasea in* mill-anil provided new combat losses and Ntional naval assets

chile. US materiel assis tary's firepower on tbeassets lo thr Air Force to mak Improve mobility. Some limUfdj have also been provided

These developments have dramaticallythe sire and fighting ability of the armed formheyajor factor In the military* successful defense of2 election and its ongoing ability to prevent an Insurgent victory. Nevertheless,^


arrwo categories: tactical and logistic problems, which undercut performance; and attltudi-nal and political problems, which create institutional impedir.*nts to the war rffort

ond Impoct ol US Aid

esult of US military assistance andthe Salvadoran armed form have expanded to

I.I'T.ri WIBWTreaWoirMrrrMTRfJ**




and logistic Problems

The- military's logistic situation Is chaotic The uveral] structure is Irudrqualr in term* of staff,inventory, and accounting procedure*are not handled efficiently, and overcenl rail red control requires lliat even routine request* obtain high-level approval. Sloreov-er. the General Staff seeks toeserve of supplieshe possibilityS aid cutoff. During one periodational-level stocks of one category of rifle ammunition dipped loay*"onlyays" supply if aggressive operations were punned The ammunition situation in the field was even morem manner* lo use their supplies sparingly. Such reswpply uncertainty has constrained aggressive commanders while giving the more cautious ones an escuse to slay in garrison.'

t0 Thr number of junior off keen has beenthrough IS assistance, but they have not always been effectively employed Competent field-grade officer* remain in short supplyesult of the small sire of thr officer corps at the warsduring, tbe Salvadoran military academy generally graduated only somerofessional ooocommissioord officer corps was never developed.

Lack nf adequate ground and air mobility cs acerbates the supply situation and undercuts (he armed forces maneuver capability For some large-scale operations, governmenl forces have lalten three days to move into position, enabling insurgent forces In escape before ihey could be engaged Transport is also lacking for reinforcements responding lo guerrilla attacks Tbe Salsadorans have onlyeavynd. ofH-IH transport hdicopters available in mmlsually only eight were operattonal. Fvrn if all were operational, lhr total lift rapacilv would be adequate lo move fewer than two companies from any of the so-called nuick-retaliation battalions.

oreover, maintenance capabilities are limited and overly centralized. Salvadoran mechanics are considered highly skilled but in short supply. The availabilily ol spare parts Is Itudcxjuatc and equip-ment turnaround times ore excessive

n the enlisted ranks, the skill level is subject to constant atlrilion as conscripts complete their tours and return to civilian life. Ofen trained In (he Allacatl Battalion by the United Statesverercent sre now out of the Army Corisequrnt-ly. new battalions undergoing organization more oflen arr filled with new recruit* rather than seasoned veterans This devrJopmenl probably contributed lo the defeats suffered by the two departmental "hunter" battalions during lhr guerrilla offensive this fall.'

oreover, military communications andare poor, and engaged uniu often cannot count on fire support, reinforcement, extraction, or medical evacuation. Command and control concepts areSpan of control isnd coordination among departments and within maneuver force* is inadequate- This is due in part to training andshortfalls but also to attitudlnal and institutional problems within the officer corps,r)

AMitudirsol ond Institutional Problomi

be quality of lhr Salvadoran officer corps is relatively high by regional standards, bulilitary traditionseluctance to rlumgr for and polilical reawn* impair it* ahihtt to pursue tbe war effort optimally



A highly developed military educationemploying both internal inititulions andenerally high-calibercorps, fcut internal doctrinal thinking ha* lagged The Salvadoi.Tt* Hill rely on conventional military doctrine laugh, during the first hall ofh century. These concepts served the Salvadoran* well in9 border war with Honduras but are poorly adapted io counterinsurgency operations. The concept of small-urit tacticselatively new idea not well instilled in the officer corps]

he government forces, moreover, do poorly at incorporating lessons learned into tactical doctrine andelief column responding to anattack on Tejulepequc was ambushed no less than five times as it proceeded up the middle of the same road without flankny attempt to avoid or bypass Insurgent strongpoints

h Ihc war effort, have left the armed force* highly susceptibV to rightist influence. While intent on rolling back reforms needed to assure popular support, the right shares the military's frustration on the progress of tlse war. as well as the feelingumber of key officers whono holds barred" approach to dealing with the guerrillas. Moreover, parties to the right of the Christian Democrats are generally not seenhreat to the military institution These factors have become Increasingly important aspects In tlse politicalof the officer corps and armed forces leadership problems that have undercut the prosecution of the war

Corps Politics

he political dynamics of the Salvadoranare based on an intricate system of personal relationships lhat begin in an officer's own academy class, or xanda. and extend outward to other classes II is accepted lhaleaders will rise to the lop command posts, with one most likely becomingConcurrently,nderstood that senior officer* will make way for members of more junior taniiot In assume the key positions Consequenlly.idonally has been baser) moreombination of loyally and intrigue lhan merit, and the system is constantly under pressure from ambitious up-and-coming officers.


The lolonck who command lhe country!eographic departments and key functional uniti hate been senior playen within this system They have been responsible for all military and political activity in theirhich they have run with aof interference from the capital Echelons of command at brigade or lone level have existed on paper, but traditionally hav? had Utile importance. Thr departmental commanders usually have bypassed them and dealt directly with the miniver of defense on all mailers Moreover, because of the perscnaliil nature of the system and the wide span of control, the minister has "presided" rather thannd his power has been dependent on the willingness of these commanders to obey him.|

ightist play in officer corps politicsaior factor hrhind the ouster earlier this year of Defense Minister Jose Cuillermo Garcia From the coup9 until his removal. General Carciat actical initiative, overran towns and isolated units, capturedeapons, and placed the armed forces decidedly on the defensive.


hree-month delay, the new Minister of Defense. General Carlos EugenW Vides Casanova, regained the military initiative with the launching of the National CampaignMaqul-lishua'. However, as the offensive lost momentum, far right elements again played on officer frustration to seek increased influence. J


sought to maintain the existing officer corps system and to use it totrong power base. However, the inherent command and control weaknesses of the

cessful counterinsurgency tactic* j

rrusiranunv2 tbe officer corps felt strongly that Garcia and his associates had held power too long Pressure from36 tandtu was particularly intense, and many of their officers held ke> ballalion commands and were seeking an increased voice in the war effort. In addition, many who lobbied for Garcia's removal had strong rightist views and direct ties lo retiied Maior Roberto D'Aubursson,ormer member of3 trmda While the need toUS assistance allowed Garcia to survive the rebellion in3 by3 landa member. Lieutenant Colonel Ochoa. the Minister was eventually forced lo step down in April While these machinations went on. the guerrillas again seized the

recently made

sweeping changes In lhe LVneral Stall and key unit leadership positions and reorganized the chain of command. These moves j"


that Vides has for lhe moment obtained (he supportarmed forces. In addition, he recently madestatements against human rights abuses by

ides's appointments hjve strengthenedand competence in the General Staff and in key field commands, and will probably improve near-term military prospects. Nevertheless, the change: also have enhanced the influence of far right officers.Colonel Staben. who has been implicated In past rightist coup plots, now heads the Arce Isattalkn. and Lieutenant Colonel Ponce, another ultraconservalise, has been named commander of the elite Relloto Battalion. Similarly, key staff positions in various brigades and battalions are now held by far right officers. While this leflects Salvadoranmany of the best field commanders are right ofgrowing far right influence in thr military will inevitably Impact on national political ivsin* llestabilizing factor if the Christianwin the March election Vides has contained thi-



challenge 'o his authority, but futuresfarernain probable and will affect the warc of the resistance of the societyhole to the political, military, and economic reforms needed to defeat the guerrillas.

With US Pacsonisavl

he Salvadoran armed forces will remain es-tremely sensitive to US political developments and will be inclined to cut back the pace of their tactical operations whenevei they perceive the possibility of an aid cutoff However, responsiveness on human rights considerations will remain miicd. Militaryat most levels understand their war effort depends on good relations with and support from the United Stales Nevertheless, they will remainby absence of an ef fectlv* legal system tn deal with what is seenirect terrorist threat to themselves and iheir fami lie* The perceived need for etpediency. combined with extreme rightist Influences, will contin-

ue to generate some abuses,

he Salvadoran armed forces will remain re sponsivr to the influence of American militarybut would resist any US move perceived as tak'nar the conduct of the war out of iheir hands They will be eager for technical training bul will be more inclined tolhan Intactical concepts. Moreover. Salvadoran officers will continue to want to preserve their institutional prerogatives Institutional sensitiv-ities abo wdl limit the willlmm-j; of Salvador-an officers to accept advice directly from USofficers, although these concerns generally will not affect direct training of Salvadorari mlisled

Full mobiliratlon probably would be opposed by the economic elite and. ironically, the office corps. Salvadoran military leaders fear full mobilizationead to the induction of "undfairabk" elements.

ind others who do noi share the

officer corps common values. The economic elite continues to view the insurgency as the military's problem ond would resist the fvjl commitment of their sons and fortunes to tbe war effort. This Is symptomat-



for Military Col lop ia

iipito the Salvadoran military's manythere is little likelihood the armed forreslbpse in thr near term, assuming continued US support Thr fatr of ihr Nicaraguan National Guard following thr Sarxliitiila victory has convincnl Salva-dor an officers thrtr would br no room for (hemevolutionary regime oregotiated sctlle-menl Tliry will resist any negotialcel seltlemrnt lhat leave* insurgent force* intact or provide* the guerrillas direct access to power.

alvadoran entitled menev veiled intrrrU in the militarysystem than the officer corps, but they are good troops capable of grral rridurance Tlielr morale has been affected by Ihe insurgents' ^nnihiblino tactics and surrender ealh. Hecenl reporls lhal inexperienced soldiers gave up wliilr ihey still had thr means lo re*isl are disturbing.ops, hosaevrr. usually have surrenderrd onb when the* facrsl far suprrior forces, ammunition supplies ran low. or ihr prospect for rrlnforcement was nil Nldrrovrr. thr enlisted ranks Fought wrll during the1 offrnsive and distinguished themselves in bloody fighting in thr weeks before lherlcctmn When atlniiiatrl* supplied amiInl. ihrv have stoppesl guerrillas and can do so attain)

Outlook Throughraalaclion Tact-col Situation

r besseVF the FMLN will make ii* presence increasingly felt in many arras of the country as thrapproaches.inimum the guerrillas will keep trying todemoralize ihr Arms with annihilation ladieshighwat interdiction, andvisits io undefended towns ore likely. Urban terrorism will increase and may ineludr hnmhinsts. thr ofinilnl itrs and rollaliora-

tors, and altark* on USpectacular raidry rosnnmsemilitary target such as llopangn

.Mrbjsr cannot la- discounted

(iti As the rlrelinn approaches, wrhe gurr-rilla* will concentrate large forces on several keywink-smaller element* conduct widespread

harassing attacks to distract government forces and discourage voter turnout. More mortars may be used against urban centers In the period before and during Ihe election. The guerrillas also will be capable ofar larger force than they did In2 election offensive because of an increase in the num-ber of aimed insurgents*.

I the guerrillas decide loiberated zone, we believe their present pattern of attacks in northern El Salvador will continue. The Department ofmay figure prominently in the FMLN strategy. The guerrillas would have to be effective there loredible link between iheir activities in lhe_ northeastern and norlh-cenlral parts of the country


uerrilla success will continue to depend on thr logistic situation and cooperation among the five FMLN factions. If they opt for the lilwraled-zone strategy, substantial forces will have loeployed to lhe north, and factionalism could undercut needed coordination and support. The guerrilla* will need large slocks of ammunition,ignificantof ibrte. particularly for indirect-fire weapons, will have to he made available by their external supporters. In addition, lhe guerrillas will have lo pace themselves tactically and avoid prematureof critical supplies Aggressive government opera-ould reduce iheir ability tn accomplish ihbj


or their part, the armed forces will again be faced with three missions io protect tlir stamline economic infrastructure, lo prosseir security for the election, and to take the fiaht to the guerrillasand manpower have never brrn adequate to accomplish all three tasks umuhanrotisly in thr facrj largr-scale guerrilla offensive. The military is more likely lo be successful il il moves aggressively against the guerrilla* lo preempt rather than react to FMLN strategy and makes better use of available inlrlbgencr and mobile patrols to protectiihwrahJr targets Should Ihr guerrilla* oplla-rated rffgsf. live military will have In allocate more force* In woak northern ami eastern niitpmK perhaps ,il tin- uprnv of other arras 1


Officer corps politics may also Influence thr military's ability lo provide security for Ihe election While major unils arc now in the hands of generally comprtrnt officers, iheir staunchly conservativewill make them susceptible to continued far right political machinations. As the electionrightist commanders may become increasingly inclined toward political manipulations designed to influence the election outcome lo the detriment of tbe Christian Democrats Such activity would distract attention from combat operations and would leave the erection process vulnerable to guerrilla military and psyclsolngical attacks

Political ond Economic Considerations4

he presidentialscheduled forarchwill have Important implications for the military Institution ond llie war effort. No strong, charismatic leader is likely tolearandate. Any candidate probably will resjuire ato win the backing of the armed forces to survive Whatever the outcome, the new regime will find II difficult to continue the economic rrforms and to improvr the human rights situation This could further undercut domestic and international support for Ihe regime and its counterinsurgency effort


f ihe guerrillasajor successir logistic situation is good, they will seek to press iheir advantage to demoralize government forces andprospects for the collapse of the new Salvadoran administration If supplies and outside support are lacking or the insurgents wrre again soundly defeated, wc hrltevr they would fall back to economy of-forcehese would include more sabotage,and attacks on small, isolated garrisons In any event, the guerrillas arc likely to emphasize political tactics increasingly after the election If the Christian Democrats lose, the FMLN will attempt to attract dissident parly members to its fold to increase ill poitical legitimacy'.ictory by theDemocratic Party would probably precipitate FMLN attempts lo undermine the party's relations with llir military through disinformation and other means If the guerrillas haveiberated zone, its defense would become paramount.

f (he insurgent offensive fails. Ihe armed forces wouldhrir best oppporlunily2 to deal theajor blow. If thr insolvents have made major gains, thr military would have to regain rnomrnliim quickly lo prevent further insurgent ad-vances The armed forces would be militarily capable of dumpling and eventuallyuerrilla librraled zone However, their success in this and other operational endeavors would continue to depend on their dedication lo the war effort and could lieimpaired by post elect too far-rightist political actlvHIei.

Tbe elect mo promises to be one of the most difficult political transitions for El Salvador since9 coup. The machinery for conducting the election has advanced lillle since2 Assembly contest Electoral procedures have yet to be codified, and new-computers lo tabulate the ballots have yet lo be installed. Anticipating delays Inew const llul ion and formal election law. the Constitutent Assemblyemporary electoral decree in Novrmlier that leaves open ibe issues ofational voter registration must be completed More the electionriber municipal and legislative posts will also be contested

None of the part in preparing for the March balloting appears to have enough voter strength loajority on its own The results of the Comtilutenl Assembly elections in2 and subsequent legislative voting patterns suggest thr likelihood of two alliances in thr eventunoff election between the two lopentrist grouping might be formed by ihe Christianhc smallAction, and possibly the old official Party of Nationaltrongly conservativemeanwhile, might form around the Nationalist RepublicanHENRnbrrto D'Aohuis-son and include lhr small Salvadoran Popular Party and the new Authentic Institutional Party. None of these parties are yet commiUrd In any coalition, howrsrr. and all arr eipectrd to promote individual candidates on the first ballot.[


Rightwing drainactivity and other form*intimidation also bavr bren increasing in recent timnlhv If iinclK-ekrd. ihey threaten tn stifle*oclrralr consensus in natinnal politics. The currrnt trrnds point4 rlrction campaign plagued with debilitating terrorism byof both left and right, which could reduce vntrr participation and increase political polarization


'm.illr! improvements, quantitative andwill br rirrded for the SaSadnran military to maneuver its forces effectively and responsively to stop ami preempt the guerrillas Significant incrrasrs in ihr mobility of stralrgK rrsrrsrnhanrrd training of departmental Iroops. and better communi-cations will be requiredWwrm nl of lliese cbaugrs will need increased and nisTalnrd US mttttary avast-ance overthr long icrrnj

Moreover aurrrllla attacks on crops, factories, mads, ami bridges have cost FJ Salvador well over SfiOO million in direct damage and production lossest cording tobassv estimates- Such I'rtcrio ration suggests al leastercent loss in economic oulpul nest year, despitef foreign aid that is already earmarkedlthough steadily worsening rconomic conditions may detract from guerrilla propaganda efforts to winsupport, they probably will alsn cut into govern-inrnt rfforts lo lhat end ami may bnlstrr thr hardline politic* nf ultrarrghtisl political groups as the country mnvrs toward tlir election.|

Implicotions for tha United Stottl

hr relative combai power of thr opposing forces in El Salvador will continue lo dependariety of factors including their respectivefirepower,obility, communicationstraining, leadership and morale. The Salvadoran military is now facing effective battalion-sire guerrilla forces The military will have to lie eipanded to contend wiih ibis increased threat, but increases in lis manpower and firepower alone will noi give itadvantage, at least in the near term


evertheless. US aid alone will not be able t" remedy all the Salvadoran military's shortcomings The Salvadoran officer corps must demonstrateflexibilityetermination to solve the armed forces' structural and institutional problems If US aulilami Ii Iuiveiy-iTrd the-war effort


The actions of the rxlreme righl will be as deslobilizing to US objectives in El Salvador as ihose of the Soviet- and Cuban-supported extreme left Far right terrorism and efforts tn roll hack reforms can serve only tn strengthen llie guerrilla forces politically and militarily Meanwhile, rightist machinationsthe officer corps will continue In distract the military from needed operations, undercut itsand provide opportunities for new gir-rnlla advances Unless llie extreme right is held in check, ils activities will continue seriously lo impair the war effort.

ithout Improvements lo Salvadoran military capabilities, solutions lo the officer corps' alliiudinal problems, and neutralization of extreme rightist influ-ences. lhe country's ability In defeat the insurgents will be poor over the long term.


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