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Septic officers are like Martians.

#7
I am not that surprised that there were difficulties between the two commanders but I am amazed that they didn't work hard to set aside those differences and work harder on finding common ground. For any commander to carry out operations that would have an impact on another's TAOR without briefing and preparing that commander is a command failure.
That the Americans can call our Ambassador in for a diplomatic telling off that is normally reserved for unfriendly, undemocratic states is a sign that Britain needs to stop fawning over the US, recognise that there is no special relationship and leave the US to carry out its own operations throughout the world and that includes Afghanistan. Let them spill their own blood not waste our precious troops when they don't even keep them fully in the loop.
 
#9
I’m sometimes amazed at the self-delusion of Brits about the true nature of the special relationship. There are a (very) small number of security/defence areas where the UK can function as something like an equal partner, or at least foreigner of choice. Outside that I’m afraid we are no different to the Portogooses.

The problem is that admitting this is rather uncomfortable. If we accept that the relationship with the US isn’t really that ‘special’ (certainly no more ‘special’ than US relationships with, say, Israel, Australia, Saudi, Japan, etc) where does that leave us? We would have to admit that dreams of retaining some fig leaf of super-powerdom by hanging off America’s coattails is just a dream. The alternatives? Splendid isolation, with the People’s Army drawn up Dad’s Army style on the White Cliffs to repel the Islamic hordes; or becoming more involved in/committed to European defence and security structures?

C_C
 
#10
Lets not get to carried away. These events occurred in 2003-04. We did not necessarily have our first team out there at the time. Many of our senior people kept bashing the Yanks about our world-class COIN capability.

Sadly, that proved to be somewhat past its "Sell By" date. We had more the one embarrassing incident that showed were we being out-classed.

Don't forget, we had that wnaker Brig publish the article highly critical of the US Army, and most of his points were disproved, over-hyped, or just malicious. Perhaps that explains why some Yanks made comments critical of us?
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
In the early days of the Iraq occupation, Britain's low key policy was certainly more successful in stabilizing the situation than the far more kinetic American approach, but it appears that the Americans recognized the threat the nascent Mahdi Army posed much earlier than the British.
So, mistakes on both sides:
- The Americans needed to relearn COIN;
- The British needed to realise that Iraq required a far heavier footprint and a far firmer hand than Northern Ireland.

The fact that US Command did not warn UK Command of a major operation that would ignite a significant upsurge in violence in its AO is remarkable, even given their opsec concerns at the time. One wonders if this comms failure was due to some UK officers' heavy-handed and public criticism of US tactics.

Still with hindsight, the Americans came up with the surge and turned around the situation, while we were pulling out of Basra and retreating to the airbase. That move necessiated a major Iraqi operation to essentially recapture the city; unsurprisingly, the Iraqi Government have subsequently treated the UK military with contempt.

So whatver the Torygraph may have found, in the final analysis, it comes down to US:1; UK:0.

Most importantly:
Given that many politicians, senior officers and MOD officials who oversaw the Basra humiliation are still in situ, a full and public review of the Iraq episode is long overdue, and responsiblity assigned.

If anyone deserves to know the full truth, it is the troops who fought well at the tactical level, but whose efforts (and sacrifices) were eventually bought to naught by a weak-kneed operational policy.
 
#12
I noted that the article stated:

Col Tanner said that General Sanchez “only visited us once in seven months.” Col Tanner also added that he only spoke to his own US counterpart, the chief of staff at the US corps headquarters in the Green Zone, once over the same period.
From this quote it would appear that either the journalist or Col Tanner is confused, probably the former. If I recall correctly, at the time in question the command of the coalition forces was known as Task Force 7. It was only when Lt Gen Sanchez was relieved and the new structure of Multi-national Corp - Iraq and Multi-national Force-Iraq were put in place on May 14, 2004 that a Multi-National Corp counterpart would have existed.

Colonel Tanner should not feel too badly if he did not get to talk to Ricardo Sanchez. It is my understanding that Sanchez would not talk to Ambassador Paul Bremer, the US head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. (this despite the fact that they were living in the same palace)

Sanchez had his own problems at the time as he had authorized in writing the interrogation tactics used at Abu Ghraib. He spent a lot of time in personal damage control mode. General Sanchez is apparently embittered that he did not receive a promotion to 4* rank and has been an outspoken critic of US policy in Iraq (at least since he was not promoted)..

It is my understanding that cooperation improved markedly once the MNF-I and MNC-I structure was in place under General Casey's command.
 
#13
Andy_S said:
Most importantly:
Given that many politicians, senior officers and MOD officials who oversaw the Basra humiliation are still in situ, a full and public review of the Iraq episode is long overdue, and responsiblity assigned.

If anyone deserves to know the full truth, it is the troops who fought well at the tactical level, but whose efforts (and sacrifices) were eventually bought to naught by a weak-kneed operational policy.
There are some wild headlines to be had from picking apart the writings and statements of senior officers - all of whom, seem to have been incredibly reticent to speak up at the time.

The comments around the "Brits in berets" type stuff in Basra are wde open to being misconstrued by many. Personal opinion was that the failure of comms was not only compounded for those in Iraq, but also made substantialiy worse, by the utter and complete failure of Whitehall to even respond to critical communications and UOR's in anything like a timely manner. Getting an acknowledgement by email was a rarity and the use of a Sat phone to keep in regular contact is next to useless when the "desk in London only has two people on it, over the weekend and therefore all calls go to voicemail" until Monday morning in Whitehall.

For the senior officers now safely retired - enjoy the pension and the directorships.

At the same time, leader writers might consider that were it not for the US military, in excess of 9,000 British troops would have embarked on the war-fighting phase of TELIC without body armour. So maybe the senior officers responsible for this cluster of explicit risk, might consider where their inactions led us in this respect, before giving it the critique.

Operationally, at least, comms and interoperability were in my experience, good. What wasn't so good, was the passing off of tasks to my US team, that should have been carried out by British forces. For all of the plaudits on the British approach immediately post war-fighting stage, what isn't so obvious was the ops sp that was happening day in, day out.

Lastly, if a senior British Commander is dripping that he had no comms with Baghdad, he wants to give his head, or his comms reports a wobble. It was easier to speak to the BRITFOR liaison team in Baghdad, then Whitehall from HQ 1 Div.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
I have often wondered at our activities regarding the Mahdi army. In various books on the incidents regarding the uprising, it has been noted that instructions to the desperately fighting British troops in the areas in and around Basrah from 'on high' in the British command where to leave the feckers alone. We knew where the head office was, we knew where the head-sheds were, but we weren't allowed to flatten them.

That, imho, gave the Mahdi army leaders more power, and allowed the uprising to continue unabated for some time.

I think that was a bad call. Am I wrong?
 
#15
Biped said:
I have often wondered at our activities regarding the Mahdi army. In various books on the incidents regarding the uprising, it has been noted that instructions to the desperately fighting British troops in the areas in and around Basrah from 'on high' in the British command where to leave the feckers alone. We knew where the head office was, we knew where the head-sheds were, but we weren't allowed to flatten them.

That, imho, gave the Mahdi army leaders more power, and allowed the uprising to continue unabated for some time.

I think that was a bad call. Am I wrong?
Nope. To my mind, in the absence of any clear political intent from above far too many Senior Officers resorted to "Not on my watch", content to merely present a mirage of progress to No.10 and the FCO hacks sent out. The balls to actually deal with visable problems just did not exist. Far too many reports at ground level were ignored as they presented the "wrong" news. Result:- the locals went from reporting every atempted IDF attack on BAS in 2004-2005 to ignoring the setting up of every attack on COB.
 
#16
Sanchez had his own problems at the time as he had authorized in writing the interrogation tactics used at Abu Ghraib. He spent a lot of time in personal damage control mode. General Sanchez is apparently embittered that he did not receive a promotion to 4* rank and has been an outspoken critic of US policy in Iraq (at least since he was not promoted)..

It is my understanding that cooperation improved markedly once the MNF-I and MNC-I structure was in place under General Casey's command.[/quote]

According to my sceptic sources, Sanchez was in over his head, by a great depth. He just did not have the talent to command such a large, complex organisation with such a challenging mission, in the face of such difficulties. In fairness, his HQs was woefully undermanned and his people were not ready for this type of war. As well, can you imagine the pressure of having to answer to Rumsfeld?

We did not do ourselves a lot of favours, in some of our inter-actions with the Yanks in Baghdad. Some of our officers there were more intent on constantly telling the US how bad they were and how wonderful we are at COIN. This attitude caused us much trouble, in the long haul. Especially when, in 2005, a Brig wrote a slanderous article about the US way of war that was filled with many half-truths and outright errors. When this paper hit the public press, it had a negative impact on relations between the two armies.

Interestingly enough, GEN Petreaus had the article published in a US Army magazine. He wanted the Yanks to do some internal analysis. Out of this came a huge change in their culture, as well as their new COIN doctrine. Which they asked for UK participation and help, and we gladly agreed.

Could you imagine us doing that? Asking the Yanks to assist us with writing doctrine or any other aspect of self-improvement.

Lastly, go back and consider who our people were at the time, those quoted in the leaked papers. Were these our first team? Was their performance flawless?
 

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