The Pentagon on Wednesday appeared to downplay any active planning to directly intervene in Venezuela to topple President Nicolas Maduro, telling Congress it had not been given orders to prepare for war and stressing support for diplomacy.
Asked whether the U.S. military had been given instructions to ready itself for a military conflict, perhaps by prepositioning troops, Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said: “We, of course, always review available options and plan for contingencies.
“But in this case we have not been given (the) sort of orders that you’re discussing, no,” Wheelbarger told the House Armed Services Committee. U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which oversees U.S. forces in Latin America, said past planning included preparing for potential non-combatant evacuations and helping deliver U.S. humanitarian aid but stressed that his top focus in the region was building partnerships
When asked if he saw a role for the U.S. military in actually overthrowing Maduro’s government, Faller said: “Our leadership’s been clear: It has to be, should be, primarily a democratic transition.