Official - UK Plc Iraq Escape Plan Under Development

It's Official - UK Plc Iraq Escape Plan Is Under Development

BBC R4 News 22 Oct 2006 1300hrs UK time:

"The Defence Secretary Des Browne has said that he believes security forces in southern Iraq might be able to take over from British troops in 12 months time. He said negotiations to transfer responsibility to the Iraqis were already well advanced."

Hear it in full:]The World This Weekend[/url]
and in other news today: Pope converts to islam. Bears order portaloos.
Leave Iraq in 12 months? if i remember rightly they said that last year.............
Stonker said:
BBC R4 News 22 Oct 2006 1300hrs UK time:

"The Defence Secretary Des Browne has said that he believes security forces in southern Iraq might be able to take over from British troops in 12 months time.
Indeed they may Des, indeed they may

muzzleflash said:
Stonker said:
BBC R4 News 22 Oct 2006 1300hrs UK time:

"The Defence Secretary Des Browne has said that he believes security forces in southern Iraq might be able to take over from British troops in 12 months time.
. . I didn't say it - it woz Des, 'onest (I wonder wot odds Ladbrokes are giving).
The Exodus: 1.6m Iraqis have fled their country since the war
By Patrick Cockburn
Published: 23 October 2006
Iraq is in flight.
Everywhere inside and outside the country, Iraqis who once lived in their own houses cower for safety six or seven to a room in hovels.

Many go after they have been threatened. Often they leave after receiving an envelope with a bullet inside and a scrawled note telling them to get out immediately. Others flee after a relative has been killed, believing they will be next.

Out of the population of 26 million, 1.6 million Iraqis have fled the country and a further 1.5 million are displaced within Iraq, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Jordan alone there are 500,000 Iraqi refugees and a further 450,000 in Syria. In Syria alone they are arriving at the rate of 40,000 a month.

It is one of the largest long-term population movements in the Middle East since Israel expelled Palestinians in the 1940s. Few of the Iraqis taking flight now show any desire to return to their homes. The numbers compelled to take to the roads have risen dramatically this year with 365,000 new refugees since the bombing of the Shia shrine in Samara in February.

Full article
Here's another Neue Arbeit voice prepping the extraction . . .

Iraq war could be judged a disaster, Beckett admits
By Philip Webster, Political Editor
The Times 24 Oct 2006

IRAQ could break up into different parts eventually, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday as she acknowledged the limitations to what could be achieved by coalition forces.

She also accepted that the invasion might come to be judged as a foreign policy disaster for Britain. Mrs Beckett’s admission comes as two opinion polls reveal that most Britons would like British troops to be pulled out either immediately or by Christmas.

On the day that Iraq appealed to the international community not to “cut and run”, Mrs Beckett said she envisaged Iraq being left behind as a democratic country, which could cope and that was back on its feet. She said it had been overoptimistic for people to imagine that in three years Iraq would have a democracy like Britain’s, which had taken hundreds of years to develop.

But asked whether Iraq might fragment she said: “Everyone has been very keen to keep everyone together, but in the longer term . . . it is not for us to say, ‘You will do this or you will do that’.”

Pressed on whether it would be a disaster if Iraq split up, she replied: “If that is what they want and they feel it is workable that is another matter.”

Click for full story
Kristin Roberts said:
U.S. official: Britain seeks Iraq pullout in a year
The British military hoped to withdraw troops from Iraq within about a year and London wanted to focus on the war in Afghanistan, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

British officials had told U.S. counterparts the British military was "near the breaking point" due to long deployments in Iraq and weak retention of personnel, said the official, asking not to be identified.

The official's comments offered the first hint Britain's military may have a timetable for withdrawal in mind.

"It's about a year, give or take a few months," the official said.

But another U.S. defense official played down the withdrawal issue, and no immediate comment was available from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government.

The official said British discussions about troop levels were part of regular, internal military reviews and that the British government had not approached senior U.S. officials with adjustment plans or timetables.

On Sunday, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said Britain was "quite far down" the road toward transferring responsibility for security in Iraq to Iraqi forces but British troops would leave only when the job was done.

About 7,200 British troops are based in southern Iraq and Blair has been U.S. President George W. Bush's closest ally over Iraq.
In Full

© Reuters
Evidently, it's catching:

Alastair Macdonald said:
U.S. says Iraq agrees on timeline to peace
BAGHDAD (Reuters)

Iraqi leaders have assured the United States they will stick to a timetable of measures over the next year to curb violence and allow U.S. troops to go home, Washington's top officials in Iraq said on Tuesday.

Two weeks ahead of U.S. congressional elections that have put President George W. Bush's Republicans on the defensive over their Iraq strategy, the U.S. ambassador and military commander in Baghdad told voters directly via a rare televised joint news conference success was still possible, and on a "realistic timetable."

Insisting sectarian bloodshed had not caused Washington to water down its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq, envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he expected Iraqi leaders to make "significant progress in the coming 12 months" in meeting "benchmarks."

He did not refer to any deadline nor spell out any U.S. response if the Shi'ite-led coalition failed to rein in violence, some of it by pro-government militias, or to address concerns among minority Sunnis over sharing Iraq's oil wealth.

"Iraqi leaders must step up to achieve key political and security milestones on which they have agreed," Khalilzad said.

"They have committed themselves to a timeline for making some of those decisions," he added. "We will work with them as closely as possible so that they do meet those benchmarks."

Bush insists the United States must stay to stabilize Iraq -- whose fate Khalilzad insisted was vital to American security -- but the war is increasingly unpopular among Americans and many critics now want a deadline for U.S. withdrawal.

Gen. George Casey, who commands 140,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq despite hopes early this year that a pullout might be under way by election time, again forecast Iraqis would be able to handle most tasks in 12 to 18 months, with some U.S. support.
Full Report (2 more pages)
© Reuters
We won't quit Iraq now, says Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted has there will be no withdrawal from Iraq until Iraqi forces are confident they can handle security in the country.

Mr Blair told MPs there would be "no change in strategy" despite mounting calls for an early withdrawal.

And he warned that leaving now would amount to "a complete betrayal" of both the Iraqis and UK forces.

In Full
© Ananova
. . . makes it look even more likely that we will . . . . or is it just me? 8)
. . . and on Halloween (in the debate over an inquiry into the Iraq debacle):

House of Commons debates
Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Margaret Beckett:
The Government share the Prime Minister's determination—as, I have no doubt, does every Member of the House—to see responsibility pass to Iraqi police and security forces. That is fundamental to the coalition's strategy for progressively scaling down military support to the Iraqi Government. British soldiers are doing an astounding job in the most difficult of circumstances, as they do whenever and wherever they are called on; so, too, are a large number of British civilians—civil servants, policemen and women, aid workers and many more, many of whom I met in Basra not long ago. I am sure that all Members, whatever their view of the motion, would recognise the bravery and sacrifice of those people. That contribution is essential in support of the future in Iraq.

The new Iraqi army is getting more capable and more confident. It is increasingly non-sectarian. Two of the 10 divisions of that new army have already been transferred to the direct control of the Iraqi Government, and more will follow in the coming months. Therefore, in spite of the violence, we are seeing major strides towards equipping the Iraqi Government with the tools that they need to protect their people without relying on indefinite help from the international community.

Two entire provinces, al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar, have already been handed over to Iraqi control, and more will soon follow. In our area of responsibility in the south, we hope that Maysan province will also have been handed over by the end of the year. A central aim of our current efforts in Basra is to get that province to the point where it, too, is ready to be handed over to Iraqi lead security control. We hope that that can be accomplished at some point next spring. We share the hope recently expressed by the commander of the multinational force in Iraq that all 18 provinces can be handed over to Iraqi control by the end of 2007.
And again in Parliament, last night, it seems:

Philip Webster and Greg Hurst said:
Our troops may be on their way out by spring, Beckett says

Troops in Basra could be home soon, the Foreign Secretary told the Commons (Nabil al Jurani/AP)

British troops could start coming home from Iraq next April, with half of them gone by the middle of the year, after the handover of Basra to the Iraqi security forces, it emerged yesterday.

The prospect of Tony Blair leaving power at about the time that Britain’s traumatic engagement in Iraq is beginning to come to an end surfaced after Margaret Beckett surprised MPs by suggesting that she was confident that the Basra transition could happen next spring.
In Full

Audio report (*.ram,*.wma, *.mp3) available - from Australia - HERE
Well I don't want to say it but.....

I told you so.
Browne to give Iraq troop pledge
BBC News website: 27 Nov 06

Defence Secretary Des Browne is to stress his determination that British troops will not remain in Iraq longer than is necessary.

He will also say that this does not mean a withdrawal, and that British troops will still provide back-up for the Iraqi army and police.

Mr Browne will outline his strategy on the future of British forces in Iraq in a speech in London later [today].
In Full HERE

" . . . this does not mean a withdrawal" except in the sense that we will be withdrawing (nearly) all of our troops?

I'm all ears . . . . 8)
On TV yesterday morning (be it Sunday AM, the Politics Show or Adam Boulton - I believe Sunday AM though) Drayson said that even though the provinces might be handed over the troops will be kept in country for a while as a back up in case the locals screw it up big time.

So, no pull out just yet
Sven said:
On TV yesterday morning (be it Sunday AM, the Politics Show or Adam Boulton - I believe Sunday AM though) Drayson said that even though the provinces might be handed over the troops will be kept in country for a while as a back up in case the locals screw it up big time.

So, no pull out just yet
1. Who/what is Drayson?

2. Never, never, never ever take a politician's words at face value. As I type, I'm listenening to B'liar "re-committing" to AFG. Wot's that mean? I'd lay money it means troops from IRQ => AFG.

Stand by. 8)
Elsewhere on BBC News:
Defence Secretary Des Browne is to stress on Monday that although that will mark a "decisive change" for Britain's role in the country, it will not mean all British troops leaving Iraq.

Instead, a substantial number are expected to be based outside Basra, available to help with security if needed.
In Full HERE

I wonder what the smallest contingent would be, that a liar - sorry, I meant a politician - would describe as 'substantial'. A single Battle Gp, perhaps? 8)

I take this to be the Drayson interview:
On the Politics Show, Sunday 26 November 2006, Jon Sopel interviewed Lord Drayson, Defence Minister.


JON SOPEL: Okay, let's turn to Iraq now because we've got a detailed timetable or as near as we've got to a detailed timetable for handing over control to Iraqi forces. Does that mean that when we do that we go.

LORD DRAYSON: No. We need to, bear in mind that we're going through a process of handover. We've seen real progress in a number of provinces already being handed over and what that means is rather than British troops doing the patrolling, it's the Iraqi forces, the police and the army doing the patrolling with our troops as a backup in support.

So our troops are still in theatre, but they're largely in their barracks in that particular region, rather than doing the patrolling. Now we hope that Basra will be successful through operation Sinbad which is taking place now, where we've really learnt some important lessons about how to do this well. If Sinbad goes well, then we hope, it depends on conditions, but we hope in the Spring we will be able to hand over to the Iraq forces, but we will still need our troops to provide what we call operational over-arch.

JON SOPEL: It's very difficult though. I mean I remember at the start of the Iraq war being out there, and the problem was it's very difficult to keep thousands of people in the desert or in barracks, doing nothing. Is that what is being proposed.

LORD DRAYSON: No, they're not doing nothing, they're very busy doing training. We've trained hundreds of thousands of the Iraqi security forces, the army and the police and there's a very important job - and when I speak to our troops in Iraq, they tell me how they do and appreciate the job of mentoring and teaching the Iraqi forces.

There's then a final stage, what we call strategic overwatch, where we are able to leave Iraq, because the Iraqi forces have the competence to be able to take over responsibility. So, really, it's not a direct correlation between being able to do the hand over and troops being able to come home.

JON SOPEL: Might they be also I don't know, a reserve force for the Americans, if they need, I don't know, a hole plugged in Baghdad or something like that.

LORD DRAYSON: No, I don't think we're getting in to discussing things like that. We have a clear strategy. We have a responsibility for certain areas, certain provinces. We've handed over two already. We expect to be able to hand over a third round about Christmas. We hope that the conditions will be such in the Spring to hand over Basra. We'll have to see.

JON SOPEL: Could you rule that for example, that if you had, I don't know, all this spare capacity of people sitting in their barracks as you described, that if the Americans needed some help in Baghdad that we might send a couple of thousand troops¿

LORD DRAYSON: There would never be a question of having spare capacity. We are under pressure in terms of the operations which we have to cope with. Our troops will only stay in Iraq when they have a real job to do. Now that job could be patrolling in certain areas, as they are at the moment or...

JON SOPEL: I'm just trying to - sorry to interrupt you, I'm just trying to reconcile you - that with what you said earlier which is that they will largely be in barracks and they will there as a backup force. If they are there as a back-up force, couldn't they possibly be in some circumstances, a back up force to the Americans in some of the hotter places.

LORD DRAYSON: No, no, they couldn't be in two places at once. So no.

JON SOPEL: Right. So they stay there and then can you give, if everything went to plan in terms of the handover and what you think is the period needed to settle in the Iraqi forces, when it may be that the British troops are home.

LORD DRAYSON: Yes, is depends upon conditions on the ground. We want to bring our troops home as soon as we can, but we are there to help Iraq make the progress which its people, having elected a democratic government, want to see the country go in to that direction. Our troops will come home when the conditions on the ground allow the security to be stable, being run, operated by the Iraqi forces themselves.

JON SOPEL: A year, two years, five years.

LORD DRAYSON: It depends on the conditions.

JON SOPEL: Well I'm just saying, if everything went well.

LORD DRAYSON: Well I don't think it's wise for us, for someone like me to get in to predicting what we've said consistency. We have a clear strategy. It's about handing over to the Iraqi forces, so that's about building up their capability. We've seen already, in Al Mutana the way in which the forces were able to cope with . . .

In Full HERE
Also covers Afhganistan "The troops have got everything they asked for . . ." :?

and Trident replacement

. . . and I've just watched the first BBC TV report on Des's speech "thousands of troops will be coming home" (or more likely, made available for Ops in AFG)

BBC News said:
UK troop levels in Iraq to fall

The number of UK troops in Iraq is set to be "significantly lower by a matter of thousands" at the end of next year, the defence secretary has said.

Des Browne said it was hoped that local Iraqi forces would take control of Basra, in the south of the country, in the spring.

But a "drawing down" of troops did not mean a withdrawal because the Iraqis would still need back-up, he said.

The UK has about 7,000 troops in the south of Iraq, mostly around Basra.

Mr Browne restated Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's assertion that British-controlled Maysan province could transfer to Iraqi control in January, followed by Basra shortly afterwards.

But a handover did not mean a withdrawal of troops, he said.

"Even when all of the provinces are handed over, we will still be providing a force to mentor and back up the Iraqi army and police and to protect coalition supply routes," he said.

"I do not believe it is right to give precise numbers, nor to assume what the next 12 months will hold.

"But I can tell you that by the end of next year I expect numbers of British forces in Iraq to be significantly lower by a matter of thousands."

He would not allow "a single one of the 7,000 total British soldiers, sailors and air personnel to stay in Iraq longer than necessary", he said.
In Full HERE

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