Report from Basrah - 1 SCOTS

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Cabarfeidh, Dec 18, 2007.

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  1. From CO 1 SCOTS in Basrah. Sorry for the length but thought you might want to see how the Jocks are doing. This has been sent to all RHQ, cadets associations and so on up North so has a very wide distribution. Well done HHQ RRS!

    PS: Note the paragraph about the media!

    I write this latest SITREP from Basrah the day after we have transitioned to PIC. The 1 SCOTS Battlegroup has been pivotally involved in this transition process and it is no exaggeration to say that the Jocks have seen, at first hand, history made.

    We have operated for the past month in a very sensitive environment. The threat from IDF and IED has been significant. We have seen plenty of both but our drills, our equipment and our Force Protection (FP) infrastructure have combined to ensure that we have received no casualties. All ranks have experienced contact with the enemy. All have reacted to this superbly and we have a great deal of confidence in our FP capabilities. Against the backdrop of this threat, and while always prepared to close with and defeat our enemy, we have had to tread rather carefully. We have had to operate in such a manner that could not offer political ammunition to insurgents in the run up to the transition to PIC. We have remained closely engaged with the Iraqi Army throughout this period and have developed a foundation of trust with them that has been a crucial factor during this period of transition.

    Accepting the fact that we were never going to remain in Iraq indefinitely, there had to be some movement at the tactical level. That movement had to be for the profile of the Iraqi Security Forces to increase and ours to decrease proportionally. This has happened gradually, and successfully, over a period of months and the transition to PIC was a key milestone in that process.

    For the 1 SCOTS Battlegroup the transition period began when we searched and secured the civilian airport for the Basrah Economic Forum, which took place on 12 December. This was a key meeting of senior Iraqi national leaders, including the Prime Minister, senior local Basrawi leaders, senior Coalition leaders and some international politicians. This meeting, which would have been a key target for insurgents wishing to de-rail the reconciliation process, passed peacefully and successfully.

    For the PIC ceremony itself, our team again searched and secured the civilian airport and we were the show case for the Division’s efforts to train the Iraqi Army. The British media pack was escorted to visit Mons Coy 1 SCOTS, working with an Iraqi Army battalion in the desert. I briefed the press quite clearly on our role and the importance of PIC in terms of our overall strategy for Southern Iraq. At this briefing I noticed that most of the journalists seemed to have made up their minds on a story of a defeated British Army deserting the people of Basrah, leaving the place to be run by the militia and policed by corrupt security forces. They pushed and pushed for me to say that I was concerned that, without the situational awareness gained from joint patrolling, the Iraqi Army would be bound to engage in inappropriate and occasionally atrocious behaviour. This is simply not the case and I told them so. I have absolutely no reason to doubt the professional or moral integrity of the Iraqi Army units and formations with which we have been working. Indeed I have every reason to trust them.

    I was asked whether we could patrol in Basrah and I explained that, as an armoured battlegroup, we had the military capability to do any task required of us, anywhere, but that we worked to an operational plan and respected the wishes of the local senior Iraqi joint commander, who is currently keen to ensure that the Iraqi Army patrol alone in the city. This observation was twisted by one well known television news journalist when she said to the Iraqi Army battalion commander (through my interpreter):

    ‘The British are blaming you because they’re not allowed to patrol in Basrah. How do you feel about that?’

    It is worthy of note, while I’m on the subject of the press, that I specifically requested that they be sure to get our name right. One newspaper journalist refused to describe us as ‘1 SCOTS’, explaining that his news desk editor would never accept that title as ‘it doesn’t sound right’. He seemed content to describe us as the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland’.

    The PIC ceremony at the Airport passed peacefully and successfully and we are now waiting to see how our operations will have to be adjusted to the new situation. We will certainly continue to patrol in order to link up with Iraqi Army units and I will continue to conduct key leadership engagement with Iraqi formation commanders. We will also patrol to ensure we protect our base in the COB.

    The Battlegroup continues to perform well and the morale of the team remains high.

    Bob Bruce
    Lt Col
  2. the iraqi army are useless

    ive witnessed it with my own eyes

    PVCP.. IPS just waving all the cars through... iraqi army... all having a nice kip on the side of the road

    we even had to give them a demo on how to stop and search
  3. I wonder if that was the Panorama journalist being discussed on the other thread. She interviewed Bob Bruce and I remember her asking about patrols with the Iraqi Army.
  4. Good job 1 SCOTS and an excellent update from their CO. Stay safe guys.

  5. i dont know how true it is about joint patrols

    as i've only just left theatre and we didnt do ANY patrolling with the iraqi's

    unless its a new thing the scots have implemented
  6. IIRC he said that they weren't conducting joint patrols. Her take on it was how could he be sure they were doing their jobs if he wasn't out there with them.
  7. Robert Bruce !