El Salvador:

Military Assistance Has Helped Counter but Not Overcome the Insurgency

NSIAD-91-166: Published: Apr 23, 1991. Publicly Released: May 23, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the impact of U.S. military assistance to El Salvador, focusing on El Salvador's: (1) ability to counter insurgent forces; (2) military capabilities; and (3) attempts to instill and support respect for democracy and human rights.

GAO found that: (1) military victory eluded the Salvadoran government, since the insurgents continued to have sufficient strength and logistical support to attack economic infrastructure and military targets; (2) Salvadoran force operations were constrained, since two-thirds of the armed forces were needed to guard military installations and economic targets, and the majority of soldiers were young and inexperienced; (3) progress in negotiations between the government and the insurgents was limited to the establishment of an agenda and the signing of a human rights agreement; (4) since 1980, U.S. equipment, supplies, training, and services have improved and sustained the military capabilities of Salvadoran forces; (5) despite improvements in military capabilities, such problems as lack of coordination, poor planning, and leadership problems reduced military effectiveness; (6) problems replacing and repairing damaged and obsolete donated U.S. equipment contributed to El Salvador's difficulty in maintaining all levels of equipment; (7) although U.S. influence helped promote respect for human rights and democracy, it was unable to stop serious human rights violations; (8) the Salvadoran military promoted a greater awareness and observance of international human rights standards by providing human rights training to military personnel and establishing a human rights office; and (9) statistics indicated a decrease in political violence committed against civilians.

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