An El Salvador government drive to train regular troops and civilians to hold key areas of the economically important San Vicente province against guerrilla attacks was well under way on June 20.
GV PAN Soldiers rehearse advancing under fire.
SVs Soldiers advance on helicopter. (2 SHOTS)
SV Adviser tells soldier how to crawl, as others watch. (2 SHOTS)
SV & GV Soldiers on target practice. (7 SHOTS)
SV PAN Adviser instructs soldier how to crawl. (3 SHOTS)
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Background: An El Salvador government drive to train regular troops and civilians to hold key areas of the economically important San Vicente province against guerrilla attacks was well under way on June 20. A 600-man civil defence force, some of whom are seen here, was under instruction by regular army troops in basic manoeuvres and patrol drill. At the same time, the regular government troops were receiving training from advisers from the United States. The intensive training programme was set up under Defence Minister, General Eugenio Vides Casanova, to offset battle casualties and partly to replace the rising number of experienced men who chose not to re-enlist. Casanova was appointed in place of the much-criticised General Jose Guillermo Garcia, who stationed most of the country's 24,000 regulars in garrisons, sending them into the field only occasionally, leaving him open to claims that the guerrillas were able to roam the countryside destroying important communications and economic targets. Mr. Casanova, in a new offensive against the guerrillas launched recently, set out to win the hearts and minds of the people. In a move designed to clear provinces, including San Vicente, of strong guerrilla outposts, large numbers of troops recently swept the area, encountering no opposition. This paved the way for local and national civic aid teams to move in distributing food parcels, medicine and nutrition advice. The 2.5 million U.S. dollar project was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), and marked the El Salvador government's first departure from purely military operations against the guerrillas.