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A 'driven' colonel commands his Salvadorean troops to fight like guerrillas

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Col. Jorge Adalberto Cruz sits at his cluttered desk holding up a green organizational chart. He holds a pointer in his right hand and taps the top box on the chart, which reads ''operations secretary.''

''This,'' he says, ''will be my position.''

The military commander for El Salvador's northern province of Morazan has, by his own admission, ambitious plans. He has formulated a pacification program similar to that in San Vicente Province. The purpose of the program is to wipe guerrillas out of the province, and then to repair economic damage in the region.

But there is a crucial difference in the war in San Vicente and Morazan: Cruz's troops are engaged in some of the fiercest combat in the country, while those in San Vicente have not been quite so challenged.

So Cruz, who has been described as a ''driven'' man, is anxious to move very hard, very fast. His desire grew even stronger after an effective guerrilla attack on the capital of San Miguel Province last week, which took the Army by surprise.

''We are in the first (pacification) phase of the plan,'' Colonel Cruz says, ''which is to return the department (province) to military control and provide security. We have changed our tactics to fight the war like the guerrillas and are now able to inflict severe losses to the subversives.''

Colonel Cruz has broken his men into small units, sending them out on night patrols and prolonged treks through the countryside - something United States military advisers here have long been advocating.

Helicopters, which a year ago rarely flew into the department, now use the three landing pads all day, ferrying troops and supplies into the hills. Small towns that had not seen Salvadorean troops for several months suddenly found Army patrols appearing from out of the forest.

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