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The Times: the British under siege in Basra

#1
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2224987.ece

What unfolded next underlines the extraordinary circumstances in which British soldiers now find themselves in the final days of their deployment in central Basra.
...
Basra is now a logistical nightmare where even the simplest operation can turn deadly and soldiers frequently have to fight their way home.
...
Attacks against British troops in Basra have now surpassed all previous levels in number, sophistication and intensity, but a great many ordinary locals both dislike the militia of the Mahdi Army, and would prefer British troops to remain in the city.
...
any British operation in Basra now is a race against the clock. Militiamen, bolstered by weapons, training and equipment from Iran, have consolidated their control over various areas of the city. They can react quickly to word of any British presence on the ground, deploying ambushes along the only two routes back to palace.
 
#2
The Mahdi Army/militia (MA) roam the streets of Basra at will, because the local population allow them to. We need to turn the full might of the labour spin-machine loose in Basra to prep the locals for the mother-of-all dust ups. Give them 3 months to get used to the fact that Basra is going to get ugly and to leave if they want. Get a full Divs worth of troops in there on a combined Op to systematically pull the city apart and hound the MA till they are destroyed. If civvies then get caught up, well they had the warnings.
Either we do this properly with the fullest level of lethality and intent we can bring to bear, or we pack up and go home.
 
#3
Best weapon in counter insurgency is a knife not an air strike.I doubt the locals can do much if a pick truck with a mortar turn up fires a few rounds and then does one .
If we swarmed the place with troops might have a chance as it is we are sodding off asap. :(
 
#4
How many fighting troops can you put on the ground out of the 5000 at Basra? How many would we have had for a Basra sized town in NI?
 
#5
Mr_Bridger said:
How many fighting troops can you put on the ground out of the 5000 at Basra? How many would we have had for a Basra sized town in NI?
Good point Bridger - and a clear indicator of the "Emporer's new clothes" spin that has gone on. Let's assume for the moment, that one of our very senior commanders made this observation / request before March 2003, and has subsequently had it reinforced regularly by other senior commanders ever since. Or, does it pay, not to rock the boat, where these matters are concerned?
 
#6
ABrighter2006 said:
Mr_Bridger said:
How many fighting troops can you put on the ground out of the 5000 at Basra? How many would we have had for a Basra sized town in NI?
Good point Bridger - and a clear indicator of the "Emporer's new clothes" spin that has gone on. Let's assume for the moment, that one of our very senior commanders made this observation / request before March 2003, and has subsequently had it reinforced regularly by other senior commanders ever since. Or, does it pay, not to rock the boat, where these matters are concerned?
IMHO you either dominate the ground or be dominated. The only other option is to back in blighty painting things white. From the reports coming back, i'm not convinced we are or can dominate the ground with these numbers. Once the palace is handed over that will leave us only with the APOD (??). One large barrel of fish - and we know what happens to those don't we.
 
#7
We shouldn't hand the palace over when we leave. Just abandon it. When the insurgents are standing in the grounds, firing their AK47s into the air yelling ' We drove the Birts out dirka dirka dirka' push the plunger that detonates the explosives we left especially for them.

Lots of dead people and we get the last laugh. Result.
 
#8
Jastus said:
Lots of dead people and we get the last laugh. Result.
Well, we will certainly get the former. Whether we get the latter depends on a) Sense of Humour and b) not having any more casualties.

But we should maybe remember the lessons of other withdrawals - Aden, India etc. There, after it became clear that we were due to leave by a certain date, the locals started on each other in a big way. We then could enjoy the spectator sport of watching our former sworn enemies killing each other. In Viet Nam the NVA took over and then proceeded to 'purge' the population.

So perhaps it will not be necessary to wire up the Palace after all.
 
#9
So one lot will be wiring it for dem.And the others will be cleaning it for hand over :D .Hope the lessons learned are taken to heart .We have gone from being liberators to being hated and its not as we can point at any particularly point when it all went wrong .
 
#10
woody said:
So one lot will be wiring it for dem.And the others will be cleaning it for hand over :D .Hope the lessons learned are taken to heart .We have gone from being liberators to being hated and its not as we can point at any particularly point when it all went wrong .
That's precisely what happened in Aden.

Iraq went wrong from day one simply because on day one there was no clear political objective. And that's still the case, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without properly defined political objectives the military doesn't have a chance.

What infuriates and depresses me is that all of this was known right at the outset. This is not a military failure but it is entirely a shameful political shambles.

Sadly, the politicians are not carrying the coffins of their friends and families. Let's see how many of these politicians continue to say that they 'fully supported' the war in Iraq in a couple of years time. Not many, I'll wager.
 
#11
there was a political aim but never enough blokes on the ground to make it reality
do less with more yeah right :(
 
#13
Great... so we are probably going to have to commit a couple brigade combat teams to a Faluja style operation in the near future. :(
 
#14
#15
woody said:
So one lot will be wiring it for dem.And the others will be cleaning it for hand over :D .Hope the lessons learned are taken to heart .We have gone from being liberators to being hated and its not as we can point at any particularly point when it all went wrong .
Sounds like when were handing over a Married Quarter, I wonder if the lads who are packing up will be done for barrack damage. :roll:
The point when it all went wrong was by being made to change from a fighting force to Hearts and Minds without the neccessary financial support and backing from this government. We are constantly being monitored on our handling of situations and having to follow every convention and law against an enemy who uses children as suicide bombers and follow no rules. Young lads are having to make split second decisions that could mean death to them and there comrades but dont have the backing or support of the government if things go wrong. :x
 
#16
PartTimePongo said:
Don't agree MSR , I think it was here

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/08/10/wbasra10.xml

All the screaming done by us to the CPA , and our plans and requests had little or no effect whatsoever, because it didn't fit in with 'the master plan' . so I'm informed.
I am sure this will be discussed by Historians for many years to come.

Certainly following the incident in my previous link restrictions on movement rapidly started being imposed.

msr
 
#17
Uh... how the heck can you point to the rightfull rescue of your men being held by a hostile militia as when things went wrong? :?

Aside from the stupid decison to occupy in the first place, the original sin was not doing so properly following the capture of Baghdad. Our personnel went into force protection mode rather than maintaining order as the looting turned to riots and clan revenge killings for old vendettas... militias sprang up as a neccesity to protect life and property in the vacuum of non presence by us.
 
#18
I wasn't the incident itself, more the fallout from it. For me, it was the tipping point of the tour.

msr
 
#19
Fair enough msr, I see your point. Sad thing is that the creation of those militias in the first place could have been prevented were our political leaders more inclined to listen to their generals.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#20
I'd put the tipping point much earlier on - the first major figting, post-invasion, came in TELIC 4, mid-2004, with the PWRR in Amarah, and the Staffords (or was it Cheshires?) in Basra, when the JAM tried it on and got a bloody good hiding in both places. Many, many dead - several hundred - which means several hundred pished-off families seeking revenge - and it has never got much better, I'm afraid. The Iranians laughing like drains across the shatt doesn't help of course - they won't take overt control, but don't really need to; they'll just be very glad to see us gone.

As for the US MSRs - they don't actually go that near to Basra, so unless you want to dominate the City for the sake of it - or in order to provided basic services to the inhabitants, of course - then stick to TAMPA!

Menawhile, I hope that the Crabs are happy, having forced the abandonment of Shaibah and the retention of BAS/COB..........
 

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