Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan "What is more important, Afghanistan or Iraq?" a senior defence source asked yesterday. "There is a group within the Ministry of Defence pushing hard to get troops out of Iraq to get more into Afghanistan." Political arguments, including strong US pressure against British troop withdrawals, have won, at least for the moment. US generals in Iraq privately made it clear they were deeply unhappy about British talk of troop reductions and complained that the British seemed interested only in the south of the country*. The debate within the MoD is unusual: arguments about the size and shape of the defence budget are common, but arguments about the merits of military deployments overseas are much rarer. The fierce debate at the highest military and political levels in the MoD is reflected in a passage of a leaked memo written by a staff officer at the Defence Academy, an MoD thinktank. It reads: "British armed forces are effectively held hostage in Iraq - following the failure of the deal being attempted by COS [chief of staff] to extricate UK armed forces from Iraq on the basis of 'doing Afghanistan' - and we are now fighting (and arguably losing or potentially losing) on two fronts." Article in full http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,,1883786,00.html * or prehaps they are not interested at all being sensible chaps.