"Army says troops will stay in Iraq until 2008"

Scotsman, Mon 6 Nov

Army says troops will stay in Iraq until 2008


Key points
• Soldiers to stay in Iraq two extra years with 7,000 staying four extra years
• Extension the result of insurgency and continuing instability in Iraq
• Announcement comes as MoD presses ahead with plans to merge regiments

Key quote
"When the requirement to keep troops in Iraq until 2008 filtered back to the army, everybody started wondering how we were going to do this" - Senior army officer

Story in full THOUSANDS of British troops will have to remain in Iraq until at least 2008 - two years later than the government intended, The Scotsman has learned.

Senior military sources say the army has been told to plan to keep a brigade-sized garrison of more than 7,000 troops in Iraq for four more years or more.

The planned extension in deployment has been prompted by the continuing Iraqi insurgency and the inability of local security forces to control the country without US and British troops.

The news could not have come at a worse time for Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, who appears determined to press ahead with his plans to cut four infantry battalions and disband the army’s Scottish regiments.

full story at http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=404&id=1395252004
more from the same Scotsman piece

While attention is currently focused on next month’s Iraqi national assembly election, British and American military commanders are aware that this is only first of a series of elections in 2005 that will require a heavy security presence.

This will culminate in December 2005 in the first governmental elections under the new constitution, and a build-up of troops for that key event has already begun.

It has emerged that more Scottish soldiers will also be heading to Iraq in the autumn of 2005, when the Highlanders will deploy to Basra with the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, which has been alerted to be in Iraq in time for the December election.

The demand for troops in Iraq means the MoD may not be able to meet its commitment to provide troops to the NATO garrison in Afghanistan. NATO has asked the UK to increase its force by more than 2,000 to tackle to heroin trade outside the capital, Kabul.
(comment - I believe the UK is the lead nation in tackling Afghan heroin production and that despite the best endeavours etc, this project has not been a shining success so far)

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