WASHINGTON - US military planners have begun work on a fallback strategy in
case the US troop buildup in Iraq fails, including a gradual pullout of US
forces and more emphasis on training and advising Iraqi forces, the Los Angeles
Times reported in Monday's editions.
The strategy, based partly on the
US experience in El Salvador in the 1980s, is in the early planning stages, the
newspaper said, citing US military officials and Pentagon consultants who spoke
on condition of anonymity.
A US soldier (L) from Delta company 2/325, 82nd Airborne and
an Iraqi national police officer conduct a joint patrol in Baghdad's Sadr
City March 11, 2007. [Reuters]
It is a fallback if the Bush administration's plan to send about 26,000 more
US troops fails to stabilize Iraq, or if the Democratic-led Congress limits that
move, it said.
The newspaper quoted a Pentagon official as saying "This part of the world
has an allergy against foreign presence. You have a window of opportunity that
is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large US force
eventually gets to a point that is self-defeating."
The United States sent 55 Green Berets to El Salvador to help its military
fight rebels from 1981 to 1992, in a drive to make the US military presence less
visible, the newspaper said.
It said Pentagon officials said the Iraq plan would have to entail many more
advisors, but that the El Salvador model had influenced planning.
There are currently about 140,000 US troops in Iraq.
Shifting from a troop increase to more reliance on an advisory role would
bring the administration more in line with the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan
panel that recommended a gradual reduction in US combat forces in Iraq.