Should there be an enquiry into the failure to win Basra?

#2
Lost the battle of Basrah!

Is that a wah?

I thought it was mission complete after training the IA?
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
I don't think we lost Basra
IED's and the like are always going to catch some people out but in a straight toe to toe fight I think we won every time
We could have ruled the city with a higher level off violence but didn't
Would the Iraqis (or the US for that matter) not have opened fire when the warriors were being petrol bombed a few years back and caused carnage?
I know the populer theory seekms to be that we are slinking away with our tails between our legs but the plan was always to hand it back to the IA and IP
Sooner or later the US will hand over there TAOR and we'll see how that goes becuse at some point they will be pulled back to one base like we were and then we'll see how they get on

There should be some enquieries into the reasons for invading etc it but the UK Forces can hang their heads high and be proud of what they achieved
 
#4
the_boy_syrup said:
I don't think we lost Basra
IED's and the like are always going to catch some people out but in a straight toe to toe fight I think we won every time
We could have ruled the city with a higher level off violence but didn't
Would the Iraqis (or the US for that matter) not have opened fire when the warriors were being petrol bombed a few years back and caused carnage?
I know the populer theory seekms to be that we are slinking away with our tails between our legs but the plan was always to hand it back to the IA and IP
Sooner or later the US will hand over there TAOR and we'll see how that goes becuse at some point they will be pulled back to one base like we were and then we'll see how they get on

There should be some enquieries into the reasons for invading etc it but the UK Forces can hang their heads high and be proud of what they achieved
As far as the poor sods who actually have to live in in Basra, Yes we did. We won the warfighting bit, no problems.

The actual runing of Basra and getting it back on it's feet as a working City. We f*ked it. The locals think we were in league with the Iranians and the Militia as we did f**k all to root them out. The locals despise and distrust the Police as they were/are riddled with OMS men. Time and Time again I read Patrol reports where Police stations were covered in OMS posters and not one single person did a f**king thing about it. Consider this. In 6 months over 2005 -05 not one rocket was launched at BAS. Every attempt was given away by locals reporting to patrols. In 2007 400+ rockets were launched at BAS.

Try this for local views http://www.armedforces-int.com/news/2007/12/15/survey-reveals-basras-opinion-of-british-troops.asp

So yes. There is grounds to argue that the Armed Forces need to find out why they went from not one single attack in one year to 2 a day 2 years later...
 
#6
Kitmarlowe said:
the_boy_syrup said:
I don't think we lost Basra
IED's and the like are always going to catch some people out but in a straight toe to toe fight I think we won every time
We could have ruled the city with a higher level off violence but didn't
Would the Iraqis (or the US for that matter) not have opened fire when the warriors were being petrol bombed a few years back and caused carnage?
I know the populer theory seekms to be that we are slinking away with our tails between our legs but the plan was always to hand it back to the IA and IP
Sooner or later the US will hand over there TAOR and we'll see how that goes becuse at some point they will be pulled back to one base like we were and then we'll see how they get on

There should be some enquieries into the reasons for invading etc it but the UK Forces can hang their heads high and be proud of what they achieved
As far as the poor sods who actually have to live in in Basra, Yes we did. We won the warfighting bit, no problems.

The actual runing of Basra and getting it back on it's feet as a working City. We f*ked it. The locals think we were in league with the Iranians and the Militia as we did f**k all to root them out. The locals despise and distrust the Police as they were/are riddled with OMS men. Time and Time again I read Patrol reports where Police stations were covered in OMS posters and not one single person did a f**king thing about it. Consider this. In 6 months over 2005 -05 not one rocket was launched at BAS. Every attempt was given away by locals reporting to patrols. In 2007 400+ rockets were launched at BAS.

Try this for local views http://www.armedforces-int.com/news/2007/12/15/survey-reveals-basras-opinion-of-british-troops.asp

So yes. There is grounds to argue that the Armed Forces need to find out why they went from not one single attack in one year to 2 a day 2 years later...
My Bold - There could be many reasons for that although its not quite correct, as a rocket embedded itself into the ground directly outside my basha in 2005.

There was one particular incident which springs to mind, there was an attempt to flatten BAS in 2005, the ordinance aimed at the station would have been enough to compare to a home made battery of MLRS (ok slight exaggeration, but had we not launched an op against this threat, it would have been devastating).

It is possible the Int coord was better over 2005 (as you say - locals were indeed onside). Or is it possible that with the pending withdrawal of UK PLC the locals felt that they could no longer rely on us for protection and as such turned to the next more powerful/dangerous force. OMS.

if the latter is the case it would indeed appear to be a failing on either the Training operation or communication pure and simple.

Im not refuting anything you say, just adding some thoughts (just realised what i wrote looked a little argumentative)
 
#7
The last couple of years of the Brit presence were an under manned lash up. Punching above our weight on a shoestring etc. An inquiry into Basra would be pointless, the basic failure of political vision and finally will is obvious. London's loyalty to DC is appreciated but the US military was miffed at how it ended. Any damage is somewhat mitigated by it happening in the midst of what remains a painful strategic pratfall of DC's own making.

On the other hand out of that mess in Basra came Saulat al-Fursan Nouri where al-Maliki gained a decisive victory. That operation was carried out over the objections of the US command. It is the basis of his current power. His people may still think he's a fire worshiping "Persian" but since then he's been distancing himself from al-Hakim and Qom. On balance that's a good thing.
 
S

Screw_The_Nut

Guest
#8
Kitmarlowe said:
The actual runing of Basra and getting it back on it's feet as a working City. We f*ked it. The locals think we were in league with the Iranians and the Militia as we did f**k all to root them out. The locals despise and distrust the Police as they were/are riddled with OMS men. Time and Time again I read Patrol reports where Police stations were covered in OMS posters and not one single person did a f**king thing about it. Consider this. In 6 months over 2005 -05 not one rocket was launched at BAS. Every attempt was given away by locals reporting to patrols. In 2007 400+ rockets were launched at BAS.
Between May and Nov 2007 alone there were over 1400 rocket strikes on the COB...
 
#9
Many reasons for the above but i believe that to win any kind of battle, in this case the handling of post-war Iraq (which i believe to have been a big f*ck up) the forces involved have to be 100% committed and supported in all situations/circumstances and despite a good performance by boots on the ground as with most adventures recently the fault often has absolutely nothing to do with the British soldier holding the weapon and rather the people/organisations behind him/her that play no part in the 'on the ground' situation, be it the politicians, the poor kit, or more importantly the lack of interest/support in the theatre and the fact that the powers that be wanted us out of there as soon as possible.
I believe we have left the Iraqi populus in a dire situation (in the south) and if anything provided the world with far more extremists and future problems as a result (encouraging hatred of westerners,training ground/safe haven for insurgents etc). We have often been proud of our history of dealing with complicated COIN Ops and our skills at hearts and minds but for reasons above and many other arrsers can mention im sure, we have failed and perhaps our reputation amongst other things will suffer but no enquiry will change that nor change anything, it would simply be cursing past mistakes then looking to deal with future problems.
 
#10
Lee303 said:
Should there be an enquiry into the failure to win Basra?
The more tickets you buy at the raffle, the more chance you have of winning.

Do you really need an enquiry to tell you that?
 
#11
Well it seems to me that there is something wrong with the British Army since it spent much of its time in Basra out at the air base having mortars lobbed at it and now the US are taking over ops in Helmand. Seems in terms of fighting a COIN op we routinely have our asses handed to us on a plate. Dunno if its the generals or the government or the MOD but I reckon we've lost a lot of face on the world stage and whichever way you look at it you can hardly say that the army is in tip top condition.

Admittedly I am a fckwit civillian with no experience or knowledge orf army things, thats kinda why I came here so as to get an informed opinion. That being said, rather than bitching about why we fight wars I think its better to argue about how we win and why we fail.
 
#12
As you are a feckwit civillian, I shall be gentle. Very few mortar rounds (bombs) were dropped into the COB on Telic 10, however Chinese (et al) rockets were numerous in number; usually 107mm,120mm and 240mm in size causing many casualties (I know 'cos I was there). We had been told very early into Telic 10 that the intent was to return Basra to Iraqi rule as soon as was possible and the authorities were deemed competent. I have to trust that such a decision was made by the appropriate authorities in accordance with the required parameters.

However if you know any better then please feel free to illuminate me. :D

Edited to add one final thing....you as a reasoned and intelligent individual recognise why the Americans have gone south to Helmand don't you?
 
#13
alib said:
The last couple of years of the Brit presence were an under manned lash up. Punching above our weight on a shoestring etc. An inquiry into Basra would be pointless, the basic failure of political vision and finally will is obvious. London's loyalty to DC is appreciated but the US military was miffed at how it ended. Any damage is somewhat mitigated by it happening in the midst of what remains a painful strategic pratfall of DC's own making.

On the other hand out of that mess in Basra came Saulat al-Fursan Nouri where al-Maliki gained a decisive victory. That operation was carried out over the objections of the US command. It is the basis of his current power. His people may still think he's a fire worshiping "Persian" but since then he's been distancing himself from al-Hakim and Qom. On balance that's a good thing.
Some good points throughout the thread. Quoted alib, though as I disagree strongly with the opening sentence.

I would argue that the "Brit presence were an under manned lash up" line applied from TELIC commencing. The huge failure by both Washington and London was the assumption that following the warfighting phase, that the IO's and NGO's would bomb Iraq with aid.

When applied to Southern Iraq, the post war-fighting stage was "easier" then the US and other coalition forces witnessed eisewhere. The celebrated "British soldiers patrol Basra in berets" type stuff. Indeed the honeymoon period was entirely predicatable, due to the vast majority of the Southern Iraq population being Shia.

Behind the soft imagery though, the security situation was never adequate for IO's and NGO's to operate safely. The lack of resouces was staggering, and the lack of support / direction / policy from Whitehall beyond belief. The resultant aid footprint in Southern Iraq was about 8% of the planning estimate.

So, having seen their country invaded, occupied, the promises of Bush and Blair broken at every turn, and no tangible improvements in day-to-day life, we are surprised when the militias start becoming active?

Key to the problem faced when assessing Basra in particular, are the coming together of several strands that tend to be seen in isolation by those involved and more importantly those responsible for committing resources, money and strategic direction.

The military / aid / economic / political mix within Basra in particular is beyond the comprehension of the vast majority. Certainly those in Whitehall charged with ensuring that Blair was clear on this failed spectacularly. The Emporor Mong at work methinks. :cry:

An enquiry into "Basra" is unlikely to be sponsored high in the echelons of either the government or the MOD due to the type of detail that would emerge.

Basra is not, was never and will never be Belfast.

Perhaps if Blair had understood this simple fact and the many reasons for this statement, the question of "whether we failed to win Basra" would not be being muttered in the firstplace.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#14
Lee303 said:
I keep seeing talk of an enquiry into why we went into Iraq. I'd much rather learn why we lost so badly.
That way you get a better 'inside' story eh? Nothing like getting your information from the shop floor. It's all been done before mate. In fact, it's done on a near weekly basis.
 
#15
The only thing a full scale enquiry would would reveal are the failings our farouked up Liarbore government.

For any future engagements like Telic, or Afghanistan..... If there is a Liarbore government in the UK.... then don't trust them.... They don't like the Military, they probably still think that the Brit Army still boogars camels, sheep and goats, and wear Sun Topees and use Muskets...... However, the serious side was lack of equipment....

But that has always been the bugbear of the Armed Forces. Way back in the 1960s and 1970s, in BAOR we were still using 1938 pattern webbing. So much of it ahd been manufactured that it was still being issued to units right up until the 1970s. The same attitudes at the Top that were about pre-WW2, seem to stall stalk the corridors of MoD and Whitehall today.....

As for equipment, vehicles etc. The Sigs Regiment I was in, (28 [BR] Sig Regt), in the mid 1960s were still using ex-German Weermacht box-bodied trucks as part of the war booty the Allies 'freed' from the war years.

So, nothing really changes.... except the knuts at the top and in government. So an inquiry into UK failings in Basra... well what will it really reveal that is not already known..... But then, being an Auld Git... and out of the Military for over 30 years... then what do I know.... :? :? :?
 
#16
Why shouldn't there be an enquiry?

Sort of an AAR, lessons learnt and do we need to change, or how to change if it is neccesary?

Should be SOP surely.
 
#17
ABrighter2006 said:
...
I would argue that the "Brit presence were an under manned lash up" line applied from TELIC commencing. The huge failure by both Washington and London was the assumption that following the warfighting phase, that the IO's and NGO's would bomb Iraq with aid.

When applied to Southern Iraq, the post war-fighting stage was "easier" then the US and other coalition forces witnessed eisewhere. The celebrated "British soldiers patrol Basra in berets" type stuff. Indeed the honeymoon period was entirely predicatable, due to the vast majority of the Southern Iraq population being Shia.

Behind the soft imagery though, the security situation was never adequate for IO's and NGO's to operate safely. The lack of resouces was staggering, and the lack of support / direction / policy from Whitehall beyond belief. The resultant aid footprint in Southern Iraq was about 8% of the planning estimate.
...
I would not dispute that the final token presence in Basra just highlighted the problem.

I'm not of the opinion that more resources, aid, missionary zeal or even competence would have made much difference to the Iraqi project. Basic mistake was wrong choice of theater. Toppling Saddam was always going to be a great gift to Qom, AQ, a distraction from the real war with our dodgy Takfiri hugging allies in Islamabad and Riyadh.

The social infrastructure of Iraq was wrecked by the time of Desert Storm. Saddam was viscously playing ever micro-faction against each other by the end, the once fine army was rotted out and the population was trending Islamic radical. The South and Basra in particular was heavily penetrated by the Iranians as was the exiled highly sectarian Shi'a opposition we put in power. Langley reported as much before we went North and for once were right.

A decade hence the final withdrawal from Baghdad will probably echo the British experience in Basra. The Iranians will still be cackling from the sidelines and thanking Allah for driving their enemies into this march of folly.
 
#18
I think somebody already mentioned it but the inquiry would highlight mistakes made the government are well aware of but do not want officially acknowledged.
we are teetering on the edge of a national defense force in terms of battlefield manning, obviously some would suggest (and im not denying it) the US has moved Ops into Helmand as they plan to continue further south, or is it perhaps that they believe we cannot handle Helmand and risk leaving them a much larger, more dangerous version of Basra all over again?
In my personal view (only my view not gospel) having returned to helmand after two years where the manning went from 1 AA brigade to approx 5 Inf brigades i was shocked to see how little had been achieved, that is not to take away from the excellant work and sacrifices made by units that have served and i would hope no-one saw it as that but the Army likes to show the pretty diagram in blue and red of which areas of helmand are controlled by ISAF and which are predominantly taliban areas, what is worrying is how thinly stretched we are in those areas.
Alot was mentioned about platoon houses in H4 but i believe we are doing exactly the same thing (small units ,overstretched, not dominating ground simply occupying it) now just on a larger , more spread out scale.
Basra was the same to an extent, we bite off more then we can chew as we do not look to the long term future of situations before deploying initial troops, 'leave without a shot being fired' a prime example.
 
#20
A major problem with Basra was its internal politics. Trying to understand the complex web of networks and tribal affiliations there was a nightmare. Its easy to do COIN when you can turn one side on the other (Sunni Triangle), but trying to do COIN when everyone is the same type (shia) and depending on what day of the week it is will be a different allegiance, and things become more difficult.

I used to do briefings on the situation in the city - I always used to make the point that anyone who told me they understood Basrawi politics was lying!
 

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