Welcome Aboard! Congratulations on your orders to Cooperative Security Location (CSL) Comalapa, El Salvador. This letter serves not only to welcome you aboard, but to also provide you with a brief introduction about your new duty station.
The Comalapa El Salvadorian Air Base is located on the central coastline of El Salvador and home to the only International Airport in the country (airport code is SAL). Our mission here is to provide 24/7 critical logistics, security and infrastructure support to forward deployed United States aviation units participating in counter-illicit trafficking operations. I think you will find your upcoming tour of duty not only challenging, but also very rewarding.
First and foremost, communication between you and the command will better enable us to ascertain your specific needs and how we can best assist you in your transition to El Salvador. Due to CSL being located in an extremely remote location, government quarters/housing is unavailable. Upon your arrival, you will be housed in one of the hotels located centrally in the heart of San Salvador. Please allocate $1500 - $2k for payment of hotel. This expense will be reimbursed by filing a Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) claim every ten days with the Personnel Office. All personnel stationed at CSL reside in the local economy in the city of San Salvador, about 30 miles north of CSL. Most apartments can be rented fully furnished to include a TV, VCR/DVD player and cooking utensils. You should expect to pay your first month’s rent and deposits (approximately $3,600) prior to moving in to your apartment. This may require budgeting due to the overseas housing and pay process. Information on COLA and OHA may be found at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/oha.cfm.
When shipping your HHG, ensure the shipment is sent to U.S. Embassy El Salvador, USMILGP, San Salvador, El Salvador APO AA 34023, and phone number 011-503-2501-2818. Please see the enclosed “Shipping Instructions” for important information and requirements for shipping your HHG to El Salvador.
Minor medical needs can be handled by the staff Corpsman. Upon reporting you will be enrolled into Tricare Overseas Latin America. Severe illnesses, systemic or chronic conditions are referred to other medical facilities in El Salvador. It is imperative that a thorough medical screening be completed prior to arrival.
You are required to have a valid stateside driver's license in addition to a Military ID and Official No-Fee Passport while you are assigned duty in El Salvador. You may find it beneficial to obtain a tourist passport prior to your arrival if you plan to travel while on leave.
The following information provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, as well as information on how to avoid some of the pitfalls that others have encountered during their move to El Salvador:
WEATHER: For most of the year, residents of San Salvador enjoy sunny weather and cool breezy evenings. The average temperature is 80-85 degrees. Typically, the rainy season begins in May and continues through November. Rains are often accompanied by thunder and lightning storms. The months of December, January and February are cooler. March, April and May are hotter, with temperatures rising into the 90’s.
TRAVEL: Although the crime situation is high, most people do travel throughout the city and the U.S. Embassy sponsors trips to outlying areas where it is safer to travel in a group. Within the city one must take precautions and stay within the known neighborhoods. Guatemala is a four-hour bus ride, and travel to Guatemala City on holidays and vacations is fairly easy. The bus service to Guatemala is safe, on time and reasonable.
LOCAL ECONOMY: Almost everything is available here, from cable TV to the latest fads and fashions. There are numerous internet companies, which can provide on-line access for your home computer. Local grocery and department stores carry a wide assortment of U.S. products, and pharmacies are well stocked. Fast food establishments include Burger King, Pizza Hut, Mister Donut, Wendy’s, Dominos Pizza, etc. The area of the city where most Americans live has several shopping malls. The cinema new releases are comparative to the states, and nice theaters are available. Shopping is not a problem; however, some things here are relatively more expensive than items in the U.S.
VEHICLES: Salvadorian law requires you to purchase 3rd party liability insurance here. The purchase of this insurance is handled through our American Employees Association of El Salvador (AEAES) and, depending on the type of vehicle you bring, runs between $157.68 and $176.66 per year (paid in full once a year). Please bring with you, in your carry-on, copies of your car owner and registration papers, your license and other pertinent information about your vehicle. This will help expedite the registration of your vehicle here in El Salvador, before the vehicle arrives. The Salvadorians have passed a law that requires US-style emissions control, but they have only just begun to implement the law. We strongly urge that you bring a car that meets US emissions control standards (i.e. vehicles should have catalytic converters or other emissions control, etc.). Please refer to the enclosed “ Shipping Instructions” for vital information and instructions on needed documents to ship your vehicle here as well as instructions on how to fill out the second enclosure “ Vehicle Importation Form.” ***Your vehicle will not be shipped without completion of these forms!!***
Please keep your sponsor advised of your travel itinerary so that he or she may meet you at Comalapa Airport and provide transportation to the command.
The phone numbers on the next page are provided to assist you in contacting the Command. To call commercial from outside El Salvador dial: 011-503-2333-XXXX, and DSN: 312-567-XXXX. To call from commercial El Salvadorian phone (including pay phones) dial: 2333-XXXX. Also you will find the mailing address for CSL Comalapa.
CO - 1700
XO - 1704
CSC - 1722
Admin - 1703
Security Dispatch - 1777
Duty Officer - 1700
Your mailing address will be:
FPO AA 34007-9997
Again, welcome aboard! I am very pleased that you are joining our team and I look forward to seeing you soon.