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El Salvador Index

The Army

By far the dominant service in size and importance, the Salvdoran Army in 1988 had a total strength of 43,000 members, including conscripts. For territorial control, it divided the country into six military zones and fourteen subordinate military regions. The principal combat units consisted of twenty-two medium and fourteen light Antiterrorist Infantry Battalions (Batallones de Infanteria Antiterrorista--BIATs) organized into six infantry brigades, nine cadre infantry regiments (up to forty battalions), one mechanized cavalry regiment (two battalions), one artillery brigade (three battalions), one engineer battalion, six independent immediate-reaction counterinsurgency battalions (1,100 to 1,400 men), and seven detachments (destacamentos). The army also had one paratrooper battalion and one antiaircraft artillery battalion that were under air force control. The usual service units--such as medical, military police, and ordnance--supported the combat forces. Each brigade also had a long-range reconnaissance patrol for small-unit reconnaissance and combat patrolling. Army equipment in the late 1980s included light tanks, armored personnel carriers, howitzers, mortars, and recoilless rifles (see table 7, Appendix).

Military Detachment Number Four (Destacamento Militar NĂșmero Cuatro-DM4), which was responsible for security in Morazan Department, typified the army's command organization. In 1987 DM4 consisted of four battalions, each of which was organized into four companies. A company had four platoons--actually called sections (secciones)--of about thirty-four members each. Its zone of responsibility was divided among its four platoons, each of which contained two patrols (patrullas). The patrols operated independently, although two or more of the companies often cooperated in an operation.

Data as of November 1988











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