Created: 12/16/1983

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National Intelligence Daily (Cable)




Special Analysis

EL SALVADOR: Near-Term Mrfllfry Prospects

Daily lov'ay prints the key tudgrncnts ol the Special Naiionaj Intelligence Estimate "Nesr-Teim MtMaiy Prospects lot El

//We believe lhe tactical slalemate Between ihe Salvadofan armed forces and the insurgents of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) probably will continue, at least throught outside support to both sides continues at current levels, neither is likely toecisive advantage in the near

//With US support, the armed forces have expandedotal strength ofncluding defense and public security forces. The FMLN has now reached an effective combai strength of0 armed insurgents by upgrading its militia forces through training, experience, and Ihe acquisition ot weapons. These strength figures do not represent an Increase In the total number ot guerrillas but do reflect an important shift of those formerly rega-ded as "part-time" guerrillas tofighters Theilitary nowanpower lorce railo of onlyver the

//The guerrillas' combai effectiveness Is Judged to be high because of their sound war-fighting doctrine, excellent training, goodnd intelligence, and an ability to Incorporate lessons learned from the lighting Into Iheir tactical and strategic thinking. The Insurgents appear to do better at controlling ihe terms and pace of military engagements, use effective tactics, and are now capable of defeating isolated government units of up to the sizehunter" battalion. Their thorough use ol intelligenceajor faclor Behind their survival and success on the

//Nevertheless, ihey lack widespread popular support. In pari because of the popularity of agrarian reform and other government political and economic Initiatives Moreover, the guerrillas have not yetajor city and cannot tie down or defeat government strategic units. Logistic problems and factionalism also undercut in urgent

//The FMLN has beentrategy of military and economic attrition designed to causa tha collapse of the armod forces and tfto government. The guerrillas probablyhe national election scheduled for Ma*chajor teat of Iheir forces, and we


ampaign cl increased urban attacks and terrorism. In addition, there are Indications the guerrillas may attempt to seize andiberated zone in northern or eastern El

//Cuba ant) probably Nicaragua are llhefyrovide adequaten electionThe llS In-eae

d arHl d

Sand'rustaicaragua have stowed, but not stopped. oirtsMle suppo" to Ihe FMLN Logistic Support. particularly from Nrcaraoua. may cWrarash in response to US preaaure. but it probablybe aoequate to suslen toe ouerniias at leasteduced Hrve" of operations FMLN headquarters may move to El Selvedor hom Nicaragua, particularly it the guerrillasiberatedrobably wouM be able to function within El Salvador at least through late |

//The Insurgents will not be able to achieve victory without increased popular support, but, l' they should eel adequate logistic support, Ihey ere likely toreater throal to US military and politicall Selvedor, especially the March election The military will have to act aggressively to prevent Ihe insurgents hom seizing the initiative el the time ot the election If the guerrillas werebe succeaafu'm undermining the March election, thei' near-term prospects aould significantly improve. Over the next yea', the FMLN will bea stronger position lo exploit diaconiervt a* extreme right terrorism condnwes and eHons to roll bach tho reform process succeed

" jS framing and support have el owed (he armed forcesrow and improve and haveaior factor in theint. to prevent anctory. Fourattabona and sever ai special operations units nave bean or gang eO. trained.

end elleclively used against tneaisurgents. ihe number of evailabie junior officers has been Increased significantly, and improvements have been made In the armed forces' technical skills. There os can continue to expand, but the government's ability and resolve to mobilize fully against the insurgency will be seriously constrained by Ihe mUllary's shortcomings and by resistance Irom the country's military and economic

//The armed forces' mobility and logistic support, though increased, have not kept pace with operational and force requirements, and more ground and atr transport la needed. More training for departmental and security forces is also needed, and communications assets and command and control concepts are still

antiquated Uncertainty concerning the adepjscy end level of US assistancn also has inhibited tha armed forces' conduct of the war.//



//The quality crt the officer corps Is relatively high, put attiturjinal problems within the corps wtlt have to be overcome II the guerrillas are to be defeated. Resistance totactical andas impaired the ability ol the officer corps to pursue the war effort optlmalry./J

//Most ol the officer corps, while not opposed lo reforms, distrusts the Christian Democratic Party and Is susceptible to rigntisi political machinations that undercut lis leadership and divert aliuniion from military operations necent sweeping changes have placed most major commands under competent leaders and should ensure the near-term unity ol the armed forces. However, these changes also have strrjngthened ihe hand of rightist officers and will Inevitably impact on national politics before and alter the election In| " I

'/Despite such problems, thereite likelihood ot an armed for teahe near term The officer corps is determined lo defeat Ihe guerrillas, and the enlisted ranks win fight well wnenupplied and |

//In the near term, the meftary is more maty to be successful it it moves to preempt rather than to react lo guerrilla strategy Reversing recent insurgent gainsbe the melarys most immediate cheeenye The armed forces' ability to achieve needed tactical objectives will depend on continued US aid and the continued commitment ol (he officer corps to the war eftorl If the officer* Become preoccupied with partisan conical maneuvers, the guerrillas might be able toate* mattery and pSyChcaogacal victory at elect on ttmts. //

//The armed forces eel be auacepbtae lo US Influence, bul

performance en human lights issues will continue to be mixed. The military prefers torather than toUS tactics, arid it will be deeply stung by any public US criticism of Its war effort./';

//Current levels ol US assistance are adequate to enable the Sarvadcran metary to prevent an nsurge-it victory In the near term. However, the armed forces wM 'eguee Increeaed and sustained aad to overcome the present atatomate and eventually lo defeat the guerrillas GUven therrvlitery-to-Querriaawhich at well below what hfttorlceey has been required lo defeat anthe Salvadoran armed forces' manpower and nrepower will not beto expend rapidly enough toecisive advantage In Ihe near term. However. US seaeHance that enhanced ihe mattary's mobiaty and commurvceAiona would ncreeae the tacUraa prospects of the eoclatsig forces until these torces could be expended over the longeri


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