Iraq Snubbed Britain And Calls US Into Basra Battle

#1
Taken from The Times, April 10, 2008

Iraq snubbed Britain and calls US into Basra battle

Deborah Haynes and Michael Evans

Relations between Britain and Iraq suffered “catastrophic failure” after Baghdad bypassed the British military and called in the American “cavalry” to help the recent offensive against Shia militia in Basra, The Times has learnt.

About 550 US troops, including some from the 82nd Airborne Division, were sent from Baghdad to Basra to join up with 150 American soldiers already serving with Iraqi forces in the southern city.

The Ministry of Defence made much of the fact that British troops, based at Basra airport outside the city, were not requested in the early stages of the operation. British officials claimed that the Basra offensive was proof that Iraqi troops could cope on their own.

The Times has learnt, however, that when Britain’s most senior officer in Basra, Brigadier Julian Free, commander of 4 Mechanised Brigade, flew into the city to find out what was going on, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, who was orchestrating the attacks on militia strongholds, declined to see him.

Brigadier Free flew to Basra city with Lieutenant-General Lloyd Austin, the commander of American and coalition forces in Iraq, on March 27, two days after the operation began. The Iraqi Prime Minister spoke only to the US general.

A source familiar with the sequence of events said that Mr al-Maliki seemed to have it in for the British because of the alleged “deal” struck with the Shia militia last year under which they agreed not to attack Britain’s last battalion as it withdrew from Basra in return for the release of several of their leading members from prison.

According to The New York Times, Baghdad turned to the Americans for help when the Basra operation was launched. Two senior American military officers, Rear Admiral Edward Winters, a former member of the US Navy Seals special forces unit, and Major-General George Flynn, a Marine, were sent to Basra to help to coordinate the operation. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were drafted in as combat advisers and air controllers were positioned to call in airstrikes.

Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Baghdad, told The New York Times that the first he learnt of the Iraqi plan for Basra was on March 21. “The sense we had was that this would be a long-term effort, increased pressure gradually squeezing the special groups [the Iranian-backed Shia militia],” he said. “That is not what emerged. Nothing was in place from our side. It all had to be put together.”

A source told The Times that US forces were in Basra, eating and sleeping alongside their Iraqi counterparts, “basically doing the work that we were supposed to do. It was a catastrophic failure of diplomacy.”

The source described the moment when the American general arrived at the British base from Baghdad: “Suddenly the cavalry appeared.”

The source said that the Americans provided “loads of technical equipment and combat power”. As soon as the Americans arrived and started hitting houses in Basra, the daily attacks of indirect fire on the British base stopped. The source said that during that time the mood among the British forces on the base was “miserable”.

There was even speculation that Mr al-Maliki had refused to talk to Gordon Brown since the operation began. But a Downing Street spokesman said: “Mr Maliki spoke with the Prime Minister on the phone during the Nato summit in Bucharest [last week].”

It was not clear who had initiated the phone call, but Downing Street said that the two leaders had been trying “for a few days” to speak to each other and that when they did the conversation had been “constructive”.

A defence source played down the snub, saying: “Mr al-Maliki only deals with people at a certain level.” The source added that Major-General Barney White-Spunner, the British General Officer Commanding Multinational Division Southeast, had been out of the country at the time.

British troops did become involved in the operation eventually, first with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft firing warning shots over Shia militia areas of Basra and then supplying troops from two battle groups to help the Iraqis, although not in the city itself.

Artillery was also fired from the British base at Shia militia targets.

However, British troops are now back in Basra serving alongside Iraqi forces for the first time since withdrawing from the city in September. The Ministry of Defence confirmed that 150 British soldiers were now embedded with the Iraqis in Basra, serving as military transition teams.

The 150 British troops now in Basra city have been drawn predominantly from the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland battle group. They have been formed into six military transition teams (Mitts), made up of advisers, force protection units equipped with Mastiff and Warrior armoured vehicles, and medical support.

The presence of British troops in Basra again was the main reason why Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, told the Commons last week that the plan to reduce the force levels in Iraq from 4,000 to 2,500 from the spring had to be postponed.

Both the Americans and the British felt that Operation Charge of the Knights was a hastily conceived offensive without proper planning or consultation. The result is that the American and British military will have to be based in Basra for the foreseeable future, something which neither coalition partner had foreseen or planned for after security for the south was handed over to the Iraqis.
Interesting. But honestly, could you really expect anything much different?
 
#2
Brick said:
Taken from The Times, April 10, 2008

...

British troops did become involved in the operation eventually, first with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft firing warning shots over Shia militia areas of Basra ...
Interesting. But honestly, could you really expect anything much different?
[my bold]

How does an attack aircraft fire "warning shots" over a populated city? I'm fascinated. Can anyone explain? Or is it just journos talking sh1te again?
 
#4
That did strike me as somewhat odd as well. Best guess either they've actually loosed some shells off at people or more likely they've done some low passes to put the wind up people and it's general journalistic hyperbole.
 
#5
As soon as the Americans arrived and started hitting houses in Basra, the daily attacks of indirect fire on the British base stopped.
At least there is something positive.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
Let them they are welcome to it! In fact I can think of a few other shoiteholes that the British Government has seen fit to send a shoestring budgeted force to that the spams can have!
 
#7
They can clearly cope with out us down there so why not start the drawdown now. We could be completely out of that shitehole within a year.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#8
bobath said:
They can clearly cope with out us down there so why not start the drawdown now. We could be completely out of that shitehole within a year.
I'm sure we could move a lot quicker than that if really required, say six months to backload all of the stuff that we cant flog to the locals!
 
#9
I was under the impression that we'd been providing Lynx air support for the Iraqis since the start of the Basra Op? At least thats what the BBC reported with a clip of one flying over Basra last week.
 
#10
Is anyone really suprised? The UK has made it very clear at the highest political levels for a couple of years now that they are not really interested in Iraq, other than trying to get out without upsetting the Americans and losing too much face. On the other hand the US has taken the opposite approach, engaged more closely, re-inforced its troops and generally been much more positive in trying to support the Iraqis.

Is it therefore such a big shock to find that the Iraqi PM has little time for us and would prefer to get his support from 'more reliable' allies.

Although it has never been so bluntly stated publicly we set out our stall some time ago and should not be suprised that we are now marginalised by the Iraqis.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#11
For whatever reason UK PLC have not done the biz in Iraq; Standby for the Armed Forces to get the blame for what is clearly a national embarrassment.

We already know that this government can be highly vindictive to anyone it perceives to be letting them down.

Don't expect the Government to share any of the responsibility: Lack of resources; lack of objectives; lack of political leadership and support.
 
#12
Lets face it, the force at Basra Airport is barely enough to defend itself, let alone perform offensive operations. The brutal fact is, we cannot reinforce them - since the forces-hating Gordon chopped 2000 Infantry 2 years ago, we have no one left to send. We are now reaping the harvest of the Brown years in No. 11 - and the poor sods in Basra are in the forefront of it.
 
#13
ugly said:
bobath said:
They can clearly cope with out us down there so why not start the drawdown now. We could be completely out of that shitehole within a year.
I'm sure we could move a lot quicker than that if really required, say six months to backload all of the stuff that we cant flog to the locals!
Just bring them home. Now is as good a time as any. Leave the fukcin kit if necessary, we can argue the toss about who's responsible later, but let sense, not politics, ensure their safe return without delay. Poor buggers stuck out there taking shite, and for what? To save some other fekkers 'face' politically? Bollox to that!
 
#15
Old_Reprobate said:
Brick said:
Taken from The Times, April 10, 2008

...

British troops did become involved in the operation eventually, first with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft firing warning shots over Shia militia areas of Basra ...
Interesting. But honestly, could you really expect anything much different?


[my bold]

How does an attack aircraft fire "warning shots" over a populated city? I'm fascinated. Can anyone explain? Or is it just journos talking sh1te again?
I understaood that the Fast Jets often do a low level dumby run, with sonic boom for additional effect, as a warning....as a rule their presence has the desired effect. So pehaps it was this rather than "warning shots"....
 
#16
Chuffit said:
Just bring them home. Now is as good a time as any. Leave the fukcin kit if necessary, we can argue the toss about who's responsible later, but let sense, not politics, ensure their safe return without delay. Poor buggers stuck out there taking shite, and for what? To save some other fekkers 'face' politically? Bollox to that!
And back on planet earth you'll find that you can't just leave kit behind. It's not like leaving an unwanted car at your old camp when you're posted. There's a little thing called security, in the respect that we don't want any old lunatic getting their grubby mits all over our kit. Don't even consider how much it costs and the fact that we're on a shoestring budget as it is, so we wouldn't get replacements.

I would imagine that we would lose total face, indeed it would be like a modern day Dunkirk but with out anything positive!

To be perfectly honest I think there is a lot of press spin. I know that Maliki has shown himself to be biased towards the Americans before and our own actions (or inactions) may well have pushed him closer to them. He didn't understand Basra properly in 2007 and I doubt he does now. I have nothing against the Americans but the locals do and if he is over involving them he may well win militarily against the militia but the local support will ebb away and set the city back years. (If there's anything left after the Americans shock and awe).
 
#17
BuggerAll said:
For whatever reason UK PLC have not done the biz in Iraq; Standby for the Armed Forces to get the blame for what is clearly a national embarrassment.

We already know that this government can be highly vindictive to anyone it perceives to be letting them down.

Don't expect the Government to share any of the responsibility: Lack of resources; lack of objectives; lack of political leadership and support.
It's quite simple. The armed forces are fighting a war and need the funding and political clout to back this up, whilst the Liarbor Government is only interested in winning the next election (lets fcuking hope not) and any increase in funding/troop numbers/offensive operations is admitting that they have fcuked up big time
 
#18
Comment from The Times:

"The American's were called in because they have the will and the equipment to fight their enemies as opposed to the British approach which is to posturing and spin the story while desperately negotiating deals with the enemy from a position of weakness."

Pretty much sums it up. The sad thing is that we only went into Irag and Afghanistan in the first place to suck up to Uncle Sam.
 
#19
AndyPipkin said:
Comment from The Times:

"The American's were called in because they have the will and the equipment to fight their enemies as opposed to the British approach which is to posturing and spin the story while desperately negotiating deals with the enemy from a position of weakness."

Pretty much sums it up. The sad thing is that we only went into Irag and Afghanistan in the first place to suck up to Uncle Sam.
Whose comment is it?
 
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