"Brits find soft touch doesn't work under fire"

An American reporter's perspective. Full story at http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/12/05/a2.brits.1205.html

CAMP DOGWOOD, Iraq - The much-hyped conceit about Britain's soft military touch in Iraq had a hard landing on a road south of Baghdad one November morning, when an Iraqi car accelerated toward a British checkpoint and a young gunner fired a blizzard of bullets through its windshield.

The soldiers from Scotland's Black Watch regiment didn't stick around to determine whether the dead driver was an aspiring suicide bomber or just a man impatient to get through the backup of traffic. But the myth might have died along with him.

Is it just me or is that yankee reporter gloating that the Black Watch lost some of their finest ?
``The threat here is at the other end of the spectrum from what we faced in Basra,'' said Black Watch Capt. Stuart MacAulay, sitting on the edge of a bunker at Camp Dogwood. ``After the suicide bombings against us, I went to an American soldier I know here and put my hands up. I said, `I confess, I was one of those who sat around in Basra criticizing your approach.' And I'm embarrassed that I criticized American tactics without ever being here and without having met them."

I liked this excerpt better. But before passing judgement read the full article and not just Hack's quote. All in all its a straight story.
What he fails to mention is why they are hostile. Both Basra and Baghdad had the potential to be very volatile, so why is Baghdad, in comparison with Basra, so bad?
Civilian_In_Green said:
Wow, he's bitter.

As far as I can tell though, we've not yet shot up any weddings or schools..
I have not spoken to a Brit whose convoy was shot at by the Septics in Iraq since oooooh saturday...
That article is syndicated or at least reproduced by a dozen or so news sites. The fact that some of these are newspaper sites will mean it is in print all over the U S of A. All I can say is that the reporter comes off sounding like a c*nt and I hope the majority of Yanks will see this. I haven't spent any time in the sandpit and am not likely to for the foreseeable future but I don't really think his report is entirely accurate. Perhaps people would care to post an overview of their experience regarding the softly softly approach. What I can say (and bear in mind I feel guilty whgen I kill insects) is that I hope someone runs him over in a car then perhaps I will gloat.
You're right it IS all over the USA, even the local paper in my part of rural Connecticut ran it, much to my disgust.

There is, unfortunately, a sector of the American press which is distinctly contemptuous of the Brits, the type who glorified the IRA and vilified the British Army at the height of "The Troubles". Fact of life, same type of assholes as their contemporaries in the British press who pour scorn on all things American.
The article was not written by the fool Hackworth rather a guy called Bruce Wallace(!?) working out of L.A.

Let them rant on. The Black Watch's reputation and that of all other British regiments serving and having served in Iraq speaks for itself. I haven't heard any US service personnel casting aspersions on their British allies.
Mr. Wallace continues the good news here


Registration required.

Unlikely Challenge in Shiite Province
Resistance in Maysan to rule by outsiders poses problems for British troops and underscores uncertainty over Iraq's future as a viable state.

By Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer

AMARAH, Iraq — Brig. Abdul Hussain Mahmoud Badar arrived in the desolate moonscape of Maysan province from Baghdad last week to take command of the newly formed 73rd Brigade of the Iraqi national guard. Then he had a visit from three local men.

Go back to Baghdad, they told him. Or we'll kill you.

The brigadier fled the same day, an emissary from yet another regime in Baghdad sent packing from the province on Iraq's border with Iran.

"It was a message from all the Amarah people," said Hassan Nagem, a 29-year-old biologist from this dust-choked provincial capital of about 400,000 people. "We fear the national guard may become the new Saddam because they receive their orders from Baghdad. So we will pick our own leaders."

Resistance to the interim Iraqi government may be expected in the Sunni Triangle, where Saddam Hussein drew his support. But this is an overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim province. Its distrust of the government — led by a fellow Shiite, Iyad Allawi — underscores a growing uncertainty over Iraq's future as a viable state. As the country heads toward elections in January, many fear that Iraq could unravel into an assortment of regional tribes, religious groups and ethnic communities.

Those doubts extend to this fiercely independent province, which not even Hussein and his Sunni-dominated Baathists completely subdued, no matter how many agents he sent to root out opponents, no matter how many local people he killed in the region's years-long insurgency.

Now the British army faces the task of imposing order on this culture of defiance. British troops rolled into Amarah several days after Hussein was toppled last year. Amarah's residents, still blinking in the unaccustomed light of freedom, suddenly found a new occupier taking up positions.

"At least in Basra, we can claim we liberated the people," said Maj. Harry Lloyd of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, the British contingent now responsible for security in the province. "But by the time we reached Amarah, the view of the locals was: 'What are you doing here? We don't need you.' "

Since then, the opaqueness of local grudges, betrayals and shifting loyalties has made it extremely difficult for the British or the reconstruction teams sent from Baghdad to get a handle on who's in charge. The province remains in the grip of private, political and tribal militias, who fight one another for influence — as well as the British when they get in the way.

Against that threat, the British have deployed a single battle group, a thin force of about 550 combat troops to patrol a region the size of Northern Ireland, where they required more than 13,000 soldiers to counter paramilitary groups during the worst years of "the Troubles."

----------- Story continues -------------

And it ain't pretty reading.
I think I'll invite him to come comment on his "reporting"
Pardon my ignorance, but is this fellow sitting in downtown LA, or is he writing from Iraq, and thus basing his story on first hand interviews, experience etc.?
Busterdog said:
There is, unfortunately, a sector of the American press which is distinctly contemptuous of the Brits, the type who glorified the IRA and vilified the British Army at the height of "The Troubles". Fact of life, same type of assholes as their contemporaries in the British press who pour scorn on all things American.
The article was not written by the fool Hackworth rather a guy called Bruce Wallace(!?) working out of L.A.

Let them rant on. The Black Watch's reputation and that of all other British regiments serving and having served in Iraq speaks for itself. I haven't heard any US service personnel casting aspersions on their British allies.
Well said, Busterdog, succinctly expresses what I wanted to say about this. Both this man Wallace, and some of his equally chauvinistic contemporaries in the British media, have been wilfully misrepresenting "the British way of war".

tomahawk6's reference to "Hack" was aimed at me not that idiot Hackworth (no relation!) who has made similar comments to Wallace. http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/...mand=viewone&op=t&id=97&rnd=235.6172321047097
I can see where this guy's coming from, although his gloating theme is contemptous.

Contrary to popular myth, the S.E. is not particularly 'quiet'. We've all seen the PWRR in Al Amarah on the news, and read that August saw 100,000 rounds expended by Britfor, and we've seen the many contacts and incidents that never made it to the news except when someone's lost their life. I recall 11 bombs in Basra city on Remembance Day last year, but did it make the news? Did it hell.

However, compared to the insurgency in small pockets in the US areas, it's a drop in the ocean. I've not served in NI, but I'm told it compares like Lisburn vs Crossmaglen.

But why?

Firstly, there is no doubt that the US has a more volatile area. Most Iraqis have something to gain from Saddam's demise. However the so called triangle has a very high concentration of people who directly benefitted from Ba'ath party patronage and are the political losers from the war, and who stand to lose all of their economic priviledges. They were always going to be opposed to the US come what may, because they could never have the influence and position they once had. No-one kids themselves that there is much altruism amongst the would-be politicos in Iraq, and the whole story of 2003 to now has been of political jockeying for power by various factions and tribes - reference Moqtadr Sadr's cynical use of the urban poor to give himself a power-base and various shooting matches to prove he has the 'clout' to represent Iraqis as a 'freedom fighter'. So while some of the 'triangle' might have adopted the same approach as the politicos, the hard-core know that all is lost for them.
Unfortunately for the US they had this area in their zone.

However, the second reason is the US approach. I watched in dismay a peaceful protest turn into a mob when as a US officer shot a peaceful demonstrator in the leg to get his vehicle through a gate and off base, when another ten minutes and a few 'imshi's would have cleared the road and saved some face for the locals. The approach 'thank you for demonstrating - we are pleased you feel able to use your new democracy' used by Britfor obviously felt uncomfortable for this guy. But that's the problem. When the US killed those 13 people in Fallujah in July 2003 they weren't shooting insurgents, they were shooting 13 parents and teachers who were protesting about the US using their kid's school as their base. When a US patrol fired on a wedding party because the males were firing into the sky and then justified it by saying 'there's our fire and then there's enemy fire' - on the f#cking news! you know there's something that's going to give. Suffice to say, the US approach has turned ordinary people against them. We went to a wedding during our tour. We took a small gift for the bride and groom, chatted with the elders around a carpet, and asked the men to wait until we had left before firing their AKs. They were hapy to oblige. All normal stuff, and we gained an informer and an LEC from it too, as well as a happy headman.

Thirdly, economic structure. Poor people with f#ck all are disaffected - see Moqtadr Sadr above. Bremer had $20 billion. That could have been ploughed back into the Iraqi economy. Local contractors could have been used. There's enough about - people used to offer their services every day, drop in their CVs, recommendations from 'satisfied customers' etc at Basra palace, Shaibah, Cherokee et al. Some lucky locals end up as LECs but that's not any more than a token effort. Business start-up grants have been used in Basrah province to give people a leg-up. One I knew had $250, which was enough to start up a little business employing four other people. We've all seen the 'tomato-market' stories from Safwan. But no, $20 bn went to Uncle Sam Reconstruction Inc and by-passed the locals entirely. And where did the Iraqi army go? Back home to fester and lose individual self-respect and face. Not a happy combination for the Arab. We did 'Op Rainbow' and paid some paltry sums to ex-members. What we didn't do was to create 'Bundewehr' from the 'Wehrmacht' by stripping out the Baath politics and keeping the army. If we had we'd have kept a) Iraqi pride b) a means to patrol borders, keep the peace and guard infrastructure c) a force to tackle the major reconstruction problems facing the country after years of neglect and sanctions. However we didn't. Bremer and co didn't get the first lesson of Iraq post-war - PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE. Instead it was a country that felt conquered. And it's come back to bite.

All of this we've rammed down the US throats for a long time, and I'm not surprised they've adopted a 'told you so' approach to the initial BW casualties. Possibly the US approach is the only way now, in that part of the country.

But what this guy and his brethren don't realise is what a f###ing mess they've created. 'Reap what ye sow' springs to mind.

Can we get it back? I can't see anything else apart from chaos if we pull out, but how can the US turn it round, now, after all they've done to alienate the people who welcomed them as liberators from Saddam?

OK I'll stop now.... :evil:

Mr Happy

Because of my 2CivDiv position I spend a lot of time working with US forces active guys and I can assure you, intheir own words, they know they're shit, they believe it and they like Britfor, as an earlier poster said, USfor are unlikely to believe this crap.

Britfor and USfor work closely enough to know, the politicians asked as for help and we (BW) have done fine. The rantings of a journo are not to be listened to.

Deep breath, suck it up, move on.
By David H. Hackworth
Not too long ago in Iraq, a young American officer was warned by a Polish colonel: “You can't go out there. People are getting killed. We must stay on our bases where we are safe.”
But the bit you don't hear is that there was a US armoured brigade in the area, hence why the wise Pole stayed firmly planted in a deep deep trench.
You may well be British but being British alone does not make you eligible to be issued with a weapon and sent on patrol in hostile territory where there are weddings and schools. You need to be in the Armed Forces for that, most likely the Army or Marines, though schools and weddings can be bombed from the air or by naval gunfire.

If being British is the qualification for associating yourself ( by the use of ‘we’ ) with the ethos of HM Forces and the dangers and responsibilities they face, then being British associates you with the UK's major coalition partner when they unfortunately fcuk up. I don't think you are entitled to gloat.

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