INTRODUCTION: In El Salvador, the war between Government forces and left wing insurgents is continuing.
GV Airborne troops in black berets on parade
GV Troops marching with flag
SV Troops presenting arms
SCU Air Force Commander colonel Juan Ramon Bustillo speaking in Spanish to troops
SV Troops coming to attention
SV Military leaders
SVs Troops march past military leaders (3 shots)
SV Defence Minister Guillermo Garcia pins on medal (3 shots)
GV Helicopters on tarmac
SV Bishop Marco Rene Revelo blessing helicopters
GV Anti aircraft units move into position for mock battle between jets and ground forces (3 shots)
GVs Jets "attack" and batteries open fire in mock battle (2 shots)
GV & PAN Mock helicopter evacuation of "wounded" man (3 shots)
SV & GV Crowd watch as helicopter flies away with troops waving (2 shots)
GV Crowd watches five parachutists land (3 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: In El Salvador, the war between Government forces and left wing insurgents is continuing. In recent months, the guerrillas have been avoiding pitched battles with the army, and have concentrated on acts of sabotage with waves of bombings n the capital and throughout the countryside. The Government is responding by continuing to build up its armed forces. One important area of military spending is on airborne troops, who rush at speed to trouble spots to engage the guerrillas before they can withdraw. On Tuesday (29 September), the airborne troops held a passing-out ceremony attended by leading political and military figures in El Salvador.
SYNOPSIS: The airborne troops with their distinctive black berets are regarded as an elite fighting force by a government determine to gain the upper hand over the guerrilla forces.
Air force commander colonel Juan Ramon Bustillo tells his men the government is proud of those who have fought and died in the battle against the guerrillas.
El Salvador's military leaders hope to hold elections in March next year. At present they hold power in a joint civil-military junta headed by a Christian Democrat politician, Jose Napoleon Duarte. The guerrillas say the government is just a front for right wing soldiers.
Meanwhile, the two wings of the government cooperate closely. Defence Minister Guillermo Garcia pins a medal on Colonel Bustillo, to show his support.
New American-built Huey helicopters -- almost certainly paid for by American aid -- are blessed before battle.
The United States has supplied twelve helicopters this year as part of a 25 million dollar military aid package. The Reagan administration regards the war in el Salvador as a front line defence against the spread of communism. But the guerrillas also have international support -- notably from France and Mexico, which have officially recognised them as a "politically" representative force". Meanwhile, the El Salvador armed forces stage a mock battle with ground batteries and aircraft as a preparation for the real thing.
Part of the exercise involved moving out the wounded men. Here the troops prepare fro a helicopter evacuation. To the watching crowds it was a case of preparing for something that may one day happen to them.
Finally an exercise involving paratroops, also part of the military authorities' new plans to get troops to a trouble spot -- and fast. They are banking on this campaign to succeed in their drive against the guerrillas before political or military gains are made by their opponents.