The United States has reduced -- and may phase out entirely -- a multi-billion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission in Iraq, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Citing unnamed State Department officials, the newspaper said that what was originally envisioned as a training cadre of about 350 US law enforcement officers in Iraq was quickly scaled back to 190 and then to 100.
The latest restructuring calls for 50 advisers, but most experts say even they may be withdrawn by the end of this year, the report said.
The training effort, which began in October and has already cost $500 million, was conceived of as the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan, the paper said.
Instead, it has emerged as the latest high-profile example of the waning American influence there following the military withdrawal, The Times said. .
"I think that with the departure of the military, the Iraqis decided to say, âOK, how large is the American presence here?'" the report quotes James Jeffrey, the US ambassador to Iraq, assaying in an interview. "How large should it be? How does this equate with our sovereignty? In various areas they obviously expressed some concerns."