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El Salvador Army

The army is a permanent branch of the armed forces, which constitutes a framework, preparation and employment, made up of Headquarters, Brigade, command, Regiments and detachments military of the different arms and services, conformed with the troops combat, combat support and service support of combat, necessary for the implementation of missions terrestrial nature.

The army command is exercised by the Chief of the General of the army staff, who would be a General or an official Superior diploma of higher status, weapons, qualities of command notable and recognized professional trajectory. The Organization and functions of the army shall be governed by an internal regulation, manuals and special provisions. The territorial division for the fulfilment of the Mission of the army, comprises all the territory national, divided into zones and military sectors.

By far the dominant service in size and importance, the Salvadoran 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.

Military Detachment Number Four (Destacamento Militar Numero 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.

By 2014 El Salvador Army personnel strength was approximately 23,000, including officers, enlisted troops, and 3,000 civilian administrative personnel. While the officer corps is highly professional, most enlisted troops were 1-year volunteers with little experience and limited training. The exception is the Special Forces Command, which only accepts troops after completion of their first year of enlistment elsewhere. Because of this, the Special Forces Command has the most highly trained and motivated personnel. El Salvador deployed eleven contingents to Iraq in support of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction missions. The Salvadorans suffered five KIA and over 50 wounded during their participation in coalition operations. The eleven Salvadoran "Cuscatlan" battalions oversaw more than 362 humanitarian assistance projects valued at more than USD 23 million, including the construction of roads, schools, and medical clinics, as well as installation of power generators and transformers.

Salvadoran troops performed admirably during their five and a half years in Iraq. Their performance has been recognized at various levels, to include six soldiers being awarded the Bronze Star by former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for saving the life of Najaf's Coalition Provisional Authority Provincial Coordinator and five other American Government Officials. In May 2007, President Saca made an unannounced visit to Iraq and personally expressed his gratitude and pride for their tremendous contributions to the reconstruction of Iraq. Salvadoran soldiers were intimately involved in the training and equipping of the Iraqi Civil Defense Forces in Najaf, Al Hillah, and Al Kut. The national press positively portrayed the real impact of ESAF efforts and the gratitude of Iraqi provincial leaders.

During the 12 long years of brutal and bloody internal conflict in the 1980s, the Armed Forces National Workshop (Maestranza) built over 130 guntrucks and IFVs in the 70-80s, using Jupiter (7 ton), Man 630 (5 ton), Unimog (2 ton), GM/Ford (5 ton) trucks, F-250 and Dodge M37B pickups, as well as 23 tracked Woodmaster tractors. El Salvador’s Army is significantly increasing its use of armored vehicles to confront violent street gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M-18) in several of the country's cities. In late 2009, the United States donated an initial batch of 18 Humvees, which the Salvadoran Military incorporated into its Cavalry fleet. The U.S. followed with several donations during next five years – ultimately providing about 50 M1151s and M1165s, along with 25 M1025 Armament Carrier Humvees. Army Troops are using M1151 Enhanced Armament Carriers, upgraded versions of the HMMWVS (Humvees), M1165 Control MRC Radio Trucks, modified pick-up trucks and locally made armored vehicles like the VCTA1 and VCTA2 to provide cover and support during urban operations.

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