CDS said to be resisting Black Watch redeployment

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hackle, Oct 17, 2004.

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  1. Blair is 'using our troops to boost Bush'
    By Patrick Hennessy, Sean Rayment and Melissa Kite
    (Sunday Tel 17/10/2004)

    Tony Blair last night stood accused of conspiring to use British troops in Iraq as a "political gesture" to help George W Bush in the US presidential election.

    The Prime Minister faced protests from all sides over plans to redeploy British forces to an area 25 miles south of Baghdad, freeing the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Force for an expected assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah.

    Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, is preparing to make a Commons statement tomorrow announcing that about 650 soldiers from the Black Watch will leave Basra and come under US command "for a few weeks".

    The Sunday Telegraph understands, however, that the deployment is being resisted by Gen Sir Michael Walker, the Chief of the Defence Staff.

    Nicholas Soames, the Conservative defence spokesman, also expressed concern yesterday and suggested that British troops were being moved for political reasons. "We need to watch the timing of all this," he said, "and to be careful that this isn't just being used as a kind of political gesture to reassure the Americans of Prime Minister Blair's support for the American efforts.

    "What alarms and awes me is the timing of this operation, particularly during Ramadan."

    Mr Bush is facing an increasingly strong challenge from John Kerry, his Democrat opponent, in the November 2 presidential election. Some recent polls have put them neck and neck.

    Iraq is one of the key issues in the election and Mr Bush is under pressure to counter Mr Kerry's charge that it is only American soldiers who are suffering high casualty levels in Iraq and that other countries' armed forces should be sharing more of the burden.

    In one of their recent televised debates, Mr Kerry told Mr Bush: "We [the US] are 90 per cent of the casualties and 90 per cent of the costs," effectively claiming that the President's frequent assertions that he had built a broad coalition were diplomatic fiction, not military reality.

    Greater involvement around Baghdad by Britain, which has 9,000 troops in Iraq, compared with America's 130,000, would go some way to defusing Mr Kerry's charge.

    Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said that any decision to assist Mr Bush would be highly contentious.

    "Will Mr Blair decide to help Bush in the run-up to the election? If he does he will have to placate a House of Commons which is increasingly fractious about the absence of a clear exit strategy in Iraq.

    "Why is Bush making this request now? If Blair says yes and Kerry is elected, then the first meeting between Blair and Kerry could be very interesting."

    Anti-war Labour MPs were also quick to accuse the Prime Minister of endangering the lives of British troops.

    Alice Mahon, the Labour MP for Halifax, said: "I think this could be to help President Bush.

    "I think it is to flag up to the rest of the world that Bush has support and I just don't think we should be putting our troops in that sort of danger for political reasons."

    Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour defence minister, also claimed that the timing was linked to the US presidential election.

    "This is obviously the Americans trying to show that the risks are being shared," he said. "What they want is to be able to be seen to have more support than they do have for their tactics and that is not on.

    "Those of us who are opposed to the war are very alarmed by this. We are putting our troops in harm's way and subject to the vagaries of how the Americans do things."

    Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, said he believed that the American election was a "sub-plot", but added: "I'm not going to discount that. I would not be surprised at anything this [US] administration did. But I don't think Tony Blair needs to show any more support for Bush. He has already done that in spades."

    Gen Walker, the most senior officer in the Armed Forces, is said to be concerned that the Army should not be "bounced" into sending troops into Baghdad simply because the Americans have sustained more casualties than the British.

    A Ministry of Defence official said that the Chief of the Defence Staff and other senior officers were worried that deploying the Black Watch, which is the divisional reserve for southern Iraq, to Baghdad would leave British troops vulnerable to another uprising by insurgents.

    A senior Army officer said: "There is a certain amount of concern that this is a politically driven military operation and that does not rest easily with soldiers.

    "Soldiers accept that they have to undertake dangerous operations in war, they accept that they might be killed or injured, but it is completely unacceptable if they are being sent to Baghdad to help George Bush win the next election."
  2. exactly

    hit the nail on the head there. I had heard in the week that he didn't want look into the situation before the 2nd of November. Cannot believe he even said publicly - and no-one says nothing?! :roll: Blimey.
  3. Looks like someone may have found the small round objects they lost in 1999.

    But somehow, I don't think it will make any difference :(

    THC statement tomorrow.
  4. [quote="PartTimePongoTHC statement tomorrow.[/quote]

    I can hardly wait........more spin and bullshi* resulting in misery for the guys at the sharp end. :twisted:
  5. Intriguing cryptic comment, PTP. Let me think, what happened in 1999? ... no, it's not ringing any bells... :?
  6. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    two up!
  7. SDR?
  8. That must be it, 49, slow of me, the SDR white paper came out 1998 but implementation after that of course...
  9. One would think by reading the British press that the Black Watch deployment into Najaf is akin to a suicide mission. It isnt. It should be viewed as an opportunity to see if tactics used in Basra will work in Najaf. By reading the posts here in response to the article one might get the mistaken impression that the British troops are afraid to go north, which I doubt.
  10. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    You are mixing up ANNOYED with AFRAID

    Methinks Britfor is annoyed to go up north because we're stretched and busy down south (though not, I admit on CNN) and this is a further stretch to frankly help a force with enough REMFy cooks and cleaners that it could probably handle the task itself if they were soldiers first and trade second, as opposed to MOS first and "what the **** is a rifle" second...

    Oh yes, and a bit of armour.

    I think you'll find the Brits are not best pleased to be in the shit in Iraq anyway (fair enough - who is!) and as we came along as a political favour (fair enough again) to be now dragged up to rescue your sorry arrses from your own shit sandwich is a bit rich. We have handled down south considerably better and we fear the crap civpop relations that you've left behind for us to deal with (presumption, not based on any fact whatsoever) - also, will the USMC be coming back to the area after they flattened Falluja or will we be there forever, with an out of area Bn supporting.
  11. Yes Polar and Hackle, SDR. 1999 was the chop year.

    1999 ,when this CDS not only "lost his direction" in the face of the Politicos , but I remember certain directives (or dire threats depending how sensitive you were 8O ) flying about the place concerning talking to the press or anti-SDR ops.

    So you'll forgive me , if when I see statements that Gen. Walker is "concerned" or "resisting" the polticos , I take that with a big armful of salt. He's already told them yes, One day recce to determine if the place is dangerous or not? Yeah right.

    And it is political. The US has 140,000 troops in country and they can't find 700 to rotate into a quiet area? BS , it's political.
  12. why are so many SPAMs getting nailed around that area then? apart from its on the ground soldiering and not done from
    a. 20,000 ft up in the air
    b. 200kms away via a simple press of a button,
    and the fact most of the world hates america and sees Iraq as a great opportunity to kill some?

    and of course its got nothing to do with the up coming septic elections!! what may help Bush will bury bLiar.
  13. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    "and of course its got nothing to do with the up coming septic elections!! what may help Bush will bury bLiar."

    Not necessarily correct that it'll help Bush. I would say there is no political motive behind this despite the media and people here saying so, my reasons are:

    a) The US has a gungho go it alone if we have to attitude, asking the Brits for help is like admitting failure, not a very American word...

    b) Criticism of Rumsfeld and Bush by Kerry both centres around not having enough troops in theatre at all. A particular point after Turkey refused to help. This is playing directly into their hands.

    c) If the 650 BW do better than 2000 USMC then aren't we rather going to show up the yanks (e.g. more with 75% less....)

    the only upside I can see could be:

    1) There has been pressure on the Whitehouse to get other nations on the ground to help to 'UN' this war. By getting us up north they'll be getting us on CNN more (or is it our casualties) and thus make it appear in air-time terms at least that the US isn't alone. If that is the case I doubt 650 BW will deliver a bigger positive than the negatives above.

    I'd love to hear other views.

  14. Only about 25,000 of the Spams in Iraq are 'line-grunts". They've got a tail element which works out to about 13 drivers, blanket-stackers, ice-cream purveyors and 'burger burners for every combat infantryman. A high proportion of their casualties are among supply convoy personnel.
  15. It's the start of mission creep FF

    "Oh our troops won't be involved in Fallujah or Baghdad"

    Oh I'm sure they'll laugh heartily at that when they're fighting in Fallujahgrad

    This Government , and the SoS Defence , favours the stealth approach to a lot of problems.

    Instead of just saying bluntly "Our people are going to shut the door on suspected terrs fleeing Fallujah"

    Buff dresses it up as "Oh they are just going to a quiet area" Well that's crap , anyone with half a brain and a map knows where they are going THC , and they are going to see some action there too.

    When are these people going to stop the lying , and just tell us the truth .