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Document Creation Date: 
December 21, 2016
Document Release Date: 
June 27, 2008
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Publication Date: 
August 4, 1983
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PDF icon CIA-RDP88-01070R000200820002-6.pdf92.48 KB
Approved For Release 2008/06/27: CIA-RDP88-01070R000200820002-6 ABC WOPLD NEWS TONIGHT 4 August 1983 CENTRAL AMERICA JENNINGS: Well, a lot of people have been asking questions, no /U.S. POLICY just about the administration's policies in the region, but mor directly. Just who is it that this country is backing, or in some cases, trying to hurt? We asked ABC's Rick Inderfurth to answer some of the ouestions. INDERFURTH: In El Salvador, the military situation has improve for government forces in recent weeks. They outnumber the leftist guerrillas by more than three-to-one. And with the recent adoption of more agressive small-unit tactics long urged by American advisers, the Salvadoran army has gone on the offensive, retaking significant amounts of territory lost to the rebels. And U.S. officials confirm that the flow of arms to the rebels to Nicaragua is down, in part because the Salvadoran and Honduran navies have gotten better at policing the Gulf of Fonseca, where gunrunners once operated with little interference. In Nicaragua, the military situation is also stable, but it's a leftist Sandinista government that's in control. U.S officials say the 7,000 to 10,000. CIA-backed counter-revolutionaries, many operating from I;a:ses inside neighboring Honduras, have had some success in harassing the Nicaraguan regime--blowing up bridges and destroying crops. But American officials admit the insurgents have little chance at the moment of overthrowing the Sandinistas, a regime backed up by the largest army in the region, over 25,000 men, with another 50,000 reserves. All this s.uggests the fighting in Central America is not about to slide into a broader regional w:ar. A few weeks ago, however, there were U.S..intelligence reports, some now discounted, saying the Soviets and Cubans were about to expand their military support to the Nicaraguans. In response, Presidnet Reagan raised the military ante in the region well beyond normal trainirrg.levels: two aircraft carrier battle groups and the battleship New Jersey. All told, 19 warships, 140 combat aircraft, and over 16.000 officers and men are being dispatched to the waters off Nicaragua. Another 5,000 U.S. military personnel, most of them combat troops, will take part in joint ground exercises in Honduras. Despite this muscle-flexing, Pentagon officials say the likelihood or need for U.S. forces to get involved in actual fighting in Central America is very low. However, there are circumstances where that could change. The most dangerous case: if Soviet-built big aircraft or Cuban fighting units are sent to Nicaragua. The U.S. has warned Havana and Moscow that either move would require, as one Pentagon official put it, appropriate action by the U.S. Some officials have even suggested the possibility of an airstrike to take out those.MiG fighters if they reach the Sandinistas. Two other potential flashpoints: If the Cubans or Nicaraguans dramatically increase their military assistance to cnnrr~n' Approved For Release 2008/06/27: CIA-RDP88-01070R000200820002-6 Approved For Release 2008/06/27: CIA-RDP88-0107OR000200820002-6 2 . the rebels fighting in El Salvador. it could provoke a U.S. naval ouarantine of Kicaragua, something those carrier battle groups will be practicing it the days ahead. And, what if the Nicaraguans attack Honduras, attempting to knock out the anti-Sandinista bases located there? Such an attack is presently thought unlikely, given the superiority of the Honduran air force and the apparent reluctance of the Sandinistas, for political as well as military reasons, to go to outright war against one of their neighbors. American forces training in Honduras could conceivably be caught up in such a conflict, but U.S officials say the very presence of American combat troops in Honduras will serve as a deterrent. So, for now at least, U.S. officials do not expect the Soviets or the Cubans or the Nicaraguans to step across any of those lines. But just in case, American military forces are being sent to the, region to know better how to respond to those threats if they occur. Rick lnoerfurth, ABC News, the Pentagon. Approved For Release 2008/06/27: CIA-RDP88-0107OR000200820002-6