The Armed Forces of El Salvador, in Spanish Fuerza Armada de El Salvador is the official name of the combined armed forces of El Salvador. It has been in existence since breaking up from the United Provinces of Central America in 1840.

It consists of three branches:

  • Army
  • Navy (established 1952)
  • Air Force


During the Salvadoran Civil War the Armed Forces of El Salvador waged war against counter-insurgents organized under the FMLN. Following the end of the war, AFES personnel were implicated in many human rights abuses, including the November 1989 murder of Jesuit priests and others.

The constitution was amended to prohibit the military from playing an internal security role except under extraordinary circumstances.

Demobilization of Salvadoran military forces generally proceeded on schedule throughout the process. By 1993—nine months ahead of schedule—the military had cut personnel from a war-time high of 63,000 to the level of 32,000 required by the peace accords. By 1999, ESAF strength stood at less than 15,000, including uniformed and non-uniformed personnel, consisting of personnel in the army, navy, and air force.

A purge of military officers accused of human rights abuses and corruption was completed in 1993 in compliance with the Ad Hoc Commission’s recommendations.

El Salvador was part of the Multi-National Force – Iraq from 2003—2009. The last Salvadoran troops left Iraq on January 2009 with 5 soldiers lost in their 5 and a half year involvement. El Salvador became the last and longest serving Latin American nation in the Iraq War.

The Brigada Especial de Seguridad Militar (BESM) is a unit of the armed forces that replaced the National Guard (El Salvador) in accordance with the peace accords of January 1992.

Current status

The military’s new doctrine, professionalism, and complete withdrawal from political and economic affairs leave it one of the most respected institutions in El Salvador.