General Sir Richard Dannatt says MoD took eye off Iraq

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  1. From The Times
    March 30, 2009
    General Sir Richard Dannatt says MoD took eye off Iraq as Afghan instability grew

    General Sir Richard Dannatt: 'It was a strategic move by the United Kingdom to make a bigger effort in southern Afghanistan'
    Michael Evans, Defence Editor
    Attacks on British soldiers in Iraq rose dramatically in 2005 after military chiefs, under orders from Tony Blair, switched their attention to a new campaign in Afghanistan, the head of the Army has told The Times.

    General Sir Richard Dannatt, who retires as Chief of the General Staff in August, indicated that the MoD became distracted after Mr Blair committed Britain to “a bigger effort” in Afghanistan in 2004. At that time southern Iraq was rela-tively quiet compared with Baghdad, where US troops were coming increasingly under attack. It was in this context that Mr Blair then decided to order military chiefs to start planning for Afghanistan.

    Sources close to the former Prime Minister said that he had made the decision because of deteriorating security in Afghanistan, not because he wanted the main focus to switch from Iraq.

    General Dannatt told The Times in an exclusive interview: “The importance about that decision [however] is that it was a strategic move by the United Kingdom to make a bigger effort in southern Afghanistan to relieve some of the pressure on the United States, because by the middle of 2004, in Baghdad and the north and the west of Iraq, violence was mounting considerably more than it was in the south.
    More on the link
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article5998643.ece