Iraq pollout and Lt. Gen Nick Houghtons interview

#1
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060307/ts_nm/iraq_britain_troops_dc

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain plans to pull out nearly all its soldiers from
Iraq by the summer of 2008, with the first withdrawals within weeks, a top military commander said in an interview published on Tuesday.
ADVERTISEMENT

Lieutenant General Nick Houghton, Britain's most senior officer in Iraq, outlined a phased two-year withdrawal plan in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"There is a fine line between staying too long and leaving too soon," he was quoted as saying. "A military transition over two years has a reasonable chance of avoiding the pitfalls of overstaying our welcome but gives us the best opportunity of consolidating the Iraqi security forces."

Britain has given no firm timetable for the withdrawal of its 8,000 troops in Iraq, based in and around the southern port of Basra.

Houghton said the timeline would work only if Iraqi politicians elected in the December general election formed a national unity government and sectarian tensions did not worsen.

"It is reversible to an extent as there will be residual coalition forces present who can maintain a very low profile," he said. "There may be a need to go back in somewhere."

He said the proposals had been agreed with U.S. military chiefs, but were not set in stone.

Houghton repeated the long-held position in Washington and London that his forces would only leave once security could be handed over to Iraqi forces.

Last Sunday, the U.S. military in Iraq said media reports that the United States and Britain planned to pull out all their troops by the spring of 2007 were "completely false" and reiterated there was no timetable for withdrawal.

Two British newspapers reported in their Sunday editions that the pullout plan followed an acceptance by the two governments that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq was now a large obstacle to securing peace.

British Prime Minister
Tony Blair has been under pressure to give more details of a pullout. Many Britons opposed the deployment of troops to join the U.S.-led invasion to topple
Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Relations with Iraqi officials and people have soured. Houghton said a gradual withdrawal needed to begin soon to make it clear to the Iraqi people that British troops had no intention of staying forever.

British commanders have said the area they patrol has become more dangerous over the past eight to nine months as guerrillas develop deadlier forms of roadside bombs.

Last month, two British soldiers were killed in an attack on a patrol in Amara, 360 km (230 miles) southeast of Baghdad. It took the British death toll in Iraq to more than 100.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman in London said it was aware of Houghton's interview, but stressed no timetable had been finalised.

"The general was commenting on recent speculation on the timing of handover," he said. "The key point is that no decisions on timing or future force levels have been taken."
 
#2
Odd that the field commander would give such an interview rather than the Minister of Defense. Probably gives the politicians deniability should they want it. That said, I think the UK mission in Iraq is close to completion now and a withdrawal in 12 -24 months seem's a respectable time frame.
 
#3
I wonder why a senior military guy gives this out - it is an achievement that, surely, a politico would love to spout on about. However, it is refreshing to see a senior bloke say something.
 
#4
tomahawk6 said:
Odd that the field commander would give such an interview rather than the Minister of Defense. Probably gives the politicians deniability should they want it. That said, I think the UK mission in Iraq is close to completion now and a withdrawal in 12 -24 months seem's a respectable time frame.
I agree tomahawk, it gives the politicians room to say "we didn't say that", and use the good General as a scape goat when it goes Pete Tong.
 
#6
tomahawk6 said:
Odd that the field commander would give such an interview rather than the Minister of Defense. Probably gives the politicians deniability should they want it. That said, I think the UK mission in Iraq is close to completion now and a withdrawal in 12 -24 months seem's a respectable time frame.
My reading of it is that it will take 12-24 months to pull out safely, not that we will pull out in 12-24 months:

"There is a fine line between staying too long and leaving too soon," he was quoted as saying. "A military transition over two years has a reasonable chance of avoiding the pitfalls of overstaying our welcome but gives us the best opportunity of consolidating the Iraqi security forces."
The article is clear on this point also:

Britain has given no firm timetable for the withdrawal of its 8,000 troops in Iraq, based in and around the southern port of Basra.
The General's conditions are clear:

Houghton said the timeline would work only if Iraqi politicians elected in the December general election formed a national unity government and sectarian tensions did not worsen.

"It is reversible to an extent as there will be residual coalition forces present who can maintain a very low profile," he said. "There may be a need to go back in somewhere."
The clock doesn't start in December - December is the next key point to see if the timeline can be put in place.
 
#8
General H's photo is in todays Telegraph - WTF has he got on his head? He's wearing a beret that's about 5 sizes too small that makes him look like a bit part actor in Soldier Soldier!! He must use the same tailor as the Academy Sarn't Major!
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
quiller The Intelligence Cell 7
S The Intelligence Cell 5
L The Intelligence Cell 71

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top