Monday, March 12, 2007

Report: Pentagon sees experience in El Salvador as fallback option if 'surge' fails

Left: Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. In the 1980s, the U.S. strongly supported the government of El Salvador, which was engaged in a civil war with 'Marxist' guerillas. The El Salvadoran government's tactics included the use of death squads and targetted assasinations of political opponents, the most famous of which was Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador. Romero had crusaded against the poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture taking place in the country. Billions of dollars of aid and weapons flowed from the U.S. to the Salvadoran government, and the U.S. trained members of the military in 'counterinsugency methods' at the notorious School of the Americas. In January, 2005, Newsweek reported that Rumsfeld and the Pentagon were seriously considering a plan to train Iraqi 'special forces' teams to assassinate and kidnap Sunni insurgents and their 'sympathizers'. The plan was labelled 'the Salvador option'.

WASHINGTON — American military planners have begun plotting a fallback strategy for Iraq that includes a gradual withdrawal of forces and a renewed emphasis on training Iraqi fighters in case the current troop buildup fails or is derailed by Congress.

Such a strategy, based in part on the U.S. experience in El Salvador in the 1980s, is still in the early planning stages and would be adjusted to fit the outcome of the current surge in troop levels, according to military officials and Pentagon consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing future plans...

A strategy following the El Salvador model would be a dramatic break from President Bush's current policy of committing large numbers of U.S. troops to aggressive counterinsurgency tactics, but it has influential backers within the Pentagon.

Read the rest at the LA Times

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