Troops to stay in Iraq

#1
From Sunday Telegraph
Plan to cut number of UK troops in Iraq is scrapped
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 18/09/2005)

Secret plans by the Government to reduce troop numbers in Iraq have been shelved - and there is now no official date for the withdrawal of British soldiers, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

The decision comes as ministers prepare to announce an unexpected redeployment of up to 6,000 members of the 7th Armoured Brigade - the renowned Desert Rats - in the conflict zone next month. This follows growing concerns that Iraq is heading into full-scale civil war.


The 7th Armoured Brigade will return to Iraq next month
Under the original withdrawal plans of John Reid, the Defence Secretary, up to 8,500 troops should have returned to Britain by next month with the rest coming home by the middle of next year.

But the confirmation of a new large-scale troop redeployment, and the news that there is no end-date for British withdrawal, have sparked fears among serving soldiers and senior military figures that Iraq may be developing into Britain's own "Vietnam".

Last night, senior officers accused the Government of having a "head-in-the-sand mentality" over Britain's defence requirements and its involvement in Iraq, where more than 200 civilians were killed in terrorists attack last week alone. They said the Army - which is also sending 3,000 extra troops to Afghanistan next April - was under-manned, "strapped for cash" and being "dangerously overstretched".

So far, operations in Iraq are estimated to have cost Britain £5 billion and, since the American-led invasion in 2003, 95 British troops have been killed there.

The redeployment of the Desert Rats, who fought in the 2003 battle for Basra, in southern Iraq, contradicts a plan drawn up two months ago by Mr Reid, Options for UK Force Posture in Iraq, which proposed the start of a troop pull-out next month.

The government document added that the planned reductions would save £500 million a year.

Last night, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the head of the armed services from 2001 to 2003, said he was concerned that Britain's Forces were being constantly asked to do more with less.

"If we want to remain a global force for good around the world, it seems strange that the Armed Forces are not being properly funded … the MoD is strapped for cash" he said.

One serving brigadier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the danger of Britain becoming bogged down in its own "Vietnam war" was getting stronger every day. "The return of the 7th Armoured Brigade to Iraq is a significant benchmark," he said.

"There is a real head-in-the-sand mentality as to how we're going to extricate ourselves from this mess. There is no endgame to the problems in Iraq."

Andrew Robathan, a Tory defence spokesman who served in the SAS for five years, said: "The Army is overstretched and under-manned. Iraq is a mess … and thousands of soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan next year. And the MoD is still bent on cutting four infantry battalions."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that the 7th Armoured Brigade would return to Iraq next month. He added: "There are no plans now or in the future to withdraw troops from Iraq. It is all dependent on the security situation."

john
 
#2
Journos - don't ya just luv 'em? Absolutely no mention that 7 Bde will be replacing 12 Bde - in fact, the article reads as if they will be reinforcing them, leading to an increase of 6,000 troops. Calling them 'The Renowned Desert Rats' also subtly gives the impression that Britain is having to fall back on these elite forces, rather than simply that it is a normal ready brigade's turn back in the sand pit.

Sometimes I think these people do it deliberately...
 
#3
jonwilly said:
Last night, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the head of the armed services from 2001 to 2003, said he was concerned that Britain's Forces were being constantly asked to do more with less.
"If we want to remain a global force for good around the world, it seems strange that the Armed Forces are not being properly funded … the MoD is strapped for cash" he said.
One serving brigadier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the danger of Britain....
Infeckingcredible. I don't suppose old Boycie felt like passing this judgement when he was CDS - i.e. when he could actually do something about it? Our 'serving brigadier' is clearly not going to queer his pitch either.
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
#4
Actually, the admirable Admiral did say publicly that we were overstretched while still in post, hence he didn't complete his tour. IMO he's the only recent CDS with any spine.
 
#5
British troops will stay in Iraq until the oil runs out - I mean until it is safe for the freedom loving people of Iraq!
join the British Army: be underpaid, overstretched and over there.
 
#6
wedge is right, normal turn around, no body mentions all the other regts who have done two tours over here, QRL telic 1and 4, LD 2 and 6, we are over stretched, but vietnam, i dont think so, a bit melodramatic.
 
#7
sniper9 said:
wedge is right, normal turn around, no body mentions all the other regts who have done two tours over here, QRL telic 1and 4, LD 2 and 6, we are over stretched, but vietnam, i dont think so, a bit melodramatic.
If it wasn't made a bit melodramatic, it wouldn't be of any interest to the press. What's the point of a story where they say that the British Army is now bogged down in a supporting role that it can't withdraw from? Vietnam sounds much better and looks much better in print, don't you think?
 
#8
napier said:
Actually, the admirable Admiral did say publicly that we were overstretched while still in post, hence he didn't complete his tour.
As I understand it, Boyce was encouraged to clear his desk because of pressure from the 'chief war sceptic'. It's alleged that at a planning conference in early/mid 2002, he questioned Rumsfeld about the wisdom of opening a 'second front' in Iraq. He was 'put down' by Rumsfeld who said with increduality that Afghanistan will be all over and done with long before they got to Iraq. Later in same (or maybe later meeting) he enquired casually about the 'after invasion plans' for Iraq. Nuff said!

countdokku said:
British troops will stay in Iraq until the oil runs out - I mean until it is safe for the freedom loving people of Iraq!
Check your grammar and word order. Should read: British troops will stay in Iraq until it is safe for the freedom loving people of Iraq to have their country back - when the oil runs out! Then they can slaughter each other as much as the like! :)

Re 7 Armd Bde deployment: Yep it's the perfectly 'normal' rotation of units. But let's not forget 2 points. First. when 19 Mech began Telic 2, it was assumed just the 1 brigade could do the job - with a gradual decrease in troop strength as time went by. Alas, troop numbers have gradually crept up and hovver around 2 brigade strength. The 7 Armd Bde that will deploy on Telic 7, but will have an additional 2-3 inf btns accompanying it - not what the MoD planned or wants. Second, it's been a badly kept secret, that by the end of this year troop numbers were supposed to be down to about 3,000 total in Iraq - as the 'new' Iraqi came on-line and the violence subsided. It was thus assumed with crossed fingers that 7 Armd would not have to deploy as such - just those additional units on a stand-alone basis. Of course, next up is 19 Light Brigade. Now you know why the KINGS have not been reroled as planned!
 
#9
i take it that No 10 is thinking that Iraq is heading for a 'civil' and therefore we'd better get more troops in before it all kicks off? or am i a little off?

I was also under the impression that we'd all be out iraq come early 07.... Are we actually putting more troops on the ground, or are the papers merely blowing a normal change over out of proportion? Out of interest.... What is the Yank troops on the ground number and are they increasing??
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#11
Storeman Norman said:
jonwilly said:
Last night, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the head of the armed services from 2001 to 2003, said he was concerned that Britain's Forces were being constantly asked to do more with less.
"If we want to remain a global force for good around the world, it seems strange that the Armed Forces are not being properly funded … the MoD is strapped for cash" he said.
One serving brigadier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the danger of Britain....
Infeckingcredible. I don't suppose old Boycie felt like passing this judgement when he was CDS - i.e. when he could actually do something about it? Our 'serving brigadier' is clearly not going to queer his pitch either.
balls....one of the reasons Michael Boyce (my erstwhile boss) was eased out of the position of CDS slightly earlier than usual was because
A) he kept telling That Cnut Hoon there was no money left and why demanding TCH stand up to the Treasury more
B) he undiplomatically kept wiping the squash-court floor with the greasy TCH, who fancied himself a player.

Good bloke, who had the disconcerting habit of mastering the detail in his brief and damn near inducing nervous breakdowns in the staff who had to run to keep up.....

Le Chevre( quondam scribe in HQ 2SL/CNH)
 
#12
i remember reading in the last few months that 3 cdo bde RM were to spearhead a '5,000 man' operation in afghanistan and that the iraq withdrawl process was involved in releasing troops for that, now the papers are full of 16 AA bde going to afghanistan instead.

so is 3 cdo bde still going to afghanistan, or has that been binned?
 
#13
No, 16AAB and ARRCHQ are off to Afghanistan next spring. I recall when the Afghan op. was first being mooted they were talking about 16AAB, then 3Cdo, now 16AAB again - obviously depends whose turn it is! I get the impression they really didn't want to do both and have been clinging to the idea that there was going to be a roughly brigade-shaped withdrawal from Iraq in "a few months' time" for quite a lot of "a few months". It's blindingly obvious that there isn't going to be any drawdown from Iraq in the foreseeable future, and it was just as obvious a couple of months ago when TCR (can we start that one now, please?) was last spinning that we'd be out in three months. It's like the Swiss mountain guide who got lost, kept telling his party it was "Just another two hours" to the hut, and was finally picked up by SAR, hypothermic, hungry and unpopular in the extreme, after 36 hours up there.
 
#14
Goatman said:
Storeman Norman said:
jonwilly said:
Last night, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the head of the armed services from 2001 to 2003, said he was concerned that Britain's Forces were being constantly asked to do more with less.
"If we want to remain a global force for good around the world, it seems strange that the Armed Forces are not being properly funded … the MoD is strapped for cash" he said.
One serving brigadier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the danger of Britain....
Infeckingcredible. I don't suppose old Boycie felt like passing this judgement when he was CDS - i.e. when he could actually do something about it? Our 'serving brigadier' is clearly not going to queer his pitch either.
balls....one of the reasons Michael Boyce (my erstwhile boss) was eased out of the position of CDS slightly earlier than usual was because
A) he kept telling That Cnut Hoon there was no money left and why demanding TCH stand up to the Treasury more
B) he undiplomatically kept wiping the squash-court floor with the greasy TCH, who fancied himself a player.

Good bloke, who had the disconcerting habit of mastering the detail in his brief and damn near inducing nervous breakdowns in the staff who had to run to keep up.....

Le Chevre( quondam scribe in HQ 2SL/CNH)
Monsieur le Chevre

Delighted as I am that you found MICHAEL such a top bloke, my point stands. If he had really wanted to do something effective, he could have got hold of some chums in one of the more salacious red tops, announced he was off - and his reasons for doing so. Not, as you so eruditely put, have himself eased out by incompetent ocean going strokers who clearly weren't up to it. Less well informed (or connected) storemen such as myself wouldn't have got hold of the wrong end of the stick then!

SN
 
#15
Come on guys! was there really anyone seriously naive enough to believe that the jackie the Iraqi would be up to running the south by the end of the year, without the British Army present?, in a word haaaaaaaa!! as anyone who has worked with the Iraqi 'security' forces will know.

Despite the strain on marriages, resources, life in general etc, deep down it's what we all joined for and the best days of my life have been in that shithole he!he! Am I a belter or what?
 
#16
From the Torygraph:

Lord Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "What is needed is a very serious reappraisal of what the forces are doing there, whether they can do the job that has to be done, whether they will need reinforcement - or whether we have got to have a clear exit strategy, and a clear idea of when we are going to get out, sooner rather than later."

He suggested that withdrawing troops might be easier for the next prime minister, rather than Tony Blair.
The troops are there for the Dear Leader's vanity. He cannot be seen to have been wrong as it will cost him his job.
 
#17
There was a recent Chatam House debate on Iraq. Presumably Col Collins was happy to be quoted and it is interesting to ponder what views may have been aired anonymously.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1577327,00.html

Senior military officers, anxious about the security situation in Iraq, are beginning to seriously question the role of British troops in the country.
At a meeting on Thursday night at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, serving officers applauded as Colonel Tim Collins, commander of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment during the invasion of Iraq, attacked the handling of the invasion and subsequent operations.

"We have clearly no plan," he told his audience of serving and retired military officers. "We are relying entirely, it seems to me, on military muscle to impose freedom and democracy."

He said British commanders had "no idea" about the complexities of Iraq at the time of the invasion. "The gravest mistake is that we took away the [Iraqi] police, the army, and took away the intelligence services." That left

Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary at the time of the invasion, yesterday admitted that the government had failed to prepare for the extent of the insurgency. Mr Hoon, leader of the Commons, told the parliamentary House magazine: "I recognise that we did not anticipate the full extent of the fanaticism, the violence and the terror used by those who oppose a free Iraq."

The government came under pressure to change course when Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, called on coalition forces to attack the independent militias in the country. Mr Howard said the current strategy was not working but he opposed setting a date for withdrawal.

The British government insists it has no plans to change its flexible proposals for a staged withdrawal of troops next summer in some provinces of southern Iraq currently under British control. The British insist they are reviewing tactics but not strategy. Ministers concede they may need to remake the case for their Iraq strategy from first principles, since much of the public, in the words of one cabinet member, seems to be convinced that "Britain went to war on a lie or misapprehension and is now overseeing chaos".

Similar criticisms will be vented by General Sir Rupert Smith, a former deputy supreme commander and commander of UN forces in Bosnia, in a book, The Utility of Force, published next week.

He told the Guardian that "use of force was of limited value" in trying to achieve the objective of establishing a democratic government in Iraq. Yet any decision to pull out would be a political one and not the consequence of British troops being unable to do the job they were asked to. Lord Bramall, a former chief of the defence staff, called for "a very serious reappraisal of exactly what the forces are doing [in Iraq]" on Radio 4's Today programme.
 
#18
The Saudis are putting the boot in as well. I wonder what they think beyond stating the obvious.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1577354,00.html

Country is hurtling towards disintegration, Saudis warn

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor

Saturday September 24, 2005

The Saudi government yesterday warned that Iraq is hurtling towards disintegration and that an election planned for December is unlikely to make any difference. The government said it was delivering this bleak assessment to both the US and British administrations as a matter of urgency.
Saudi fears of a break-up were voiced by Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, in an interview with Associated Press published yesterday, and at a meeting on Thursday night with the US media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He said: "The impression is gradually going toward disintegration. There seems to be no dynamic now that is pulling the country together. All the dynamics there are pushing the people away from each other."

His comments are the most pessimistic about Iraq to be made in public by a Middle East leader in recent months.
Prince Saud, who is meeting Bush administration officials in Washington, said his government warned the US before the war of the consequences of the invasion but was ignored. "It is frustrating to see something that is clearly going to happen, and you are not listened to by a friend, and soon harm comes out of it. It hurts."

Saudi Arabia sits on a council with other Iraqi neighbours - Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey - and Prince Saud said the main worry is that the break-up of Iraq "will draw the countries of the region into conflict". Turkey is worried about an independent Kurdish state in the north of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which is primarily made up of Sunni Muslims, is concerned about the growing influence of Iran in southern Iraq through its co-religionists, the Shias. The Saudi fear is not only that Iran would be greatly strengthened but that it would be tempted to extend its influence further by creating unrest among the small communities of Shia in the north of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

He expressed scepticism about US predictions that security in Iraq will improve after the election. A referendum on Iraq's new constitution is planned for October 15 and a general election in December. The US and Britain hope that the election will be a watershed. "Perhaps what they are saying is going to happen," Prince Saud said. "I wish it would happen, but I don't think that a constitution by itself will resolve the issues."

The US response to his warnings was to predict an improvement after the referendum and the election. Prince Saud said: "But what I am trying to do is say that unless something is done to bring Iraqis together, elections alone won't do it."

The US has been pressing Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab states, to help Iraq by sending diplomatic representation to the country. But Saudi Arabia has been reluctant to comply following the kidnapping and murder this summer of Ihab al-Sharif, the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq, and Ali Belaroussi, the head of the Algerian mission, and his colleague Izzedine Belkadi, a diplomatic attache.

Prince Saud said a Saudi ambassador in Baghdad would become an immediate target for assassination. "I doubt that he'd last a day."

The prince blamed the unrest partly on a series of US decisions since the invasion. He claimed the US was guilty of alienating the Sunni population by designating "every Sunni as a Ba'athist criminal".
 
#19
New development:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1577937,00.html

British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal.
...
Britain has already privately informed Japan - which also has troops in Iraq - of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.
...
Speaking to The Observer this weekend, the Defence Secretary, John Reid, insisted that the agreement being drawn up with Iraqi officials was contingent on the continuing political process, although he said he was still optimistic British troops would begin returning home by early summer.
In this situation I wish only one thing - to see all Britons returned home safe.
 
#20
Oh, they're coming back.
Oh, they're not coming back.
They'll send more if they need to.
Iraqis won't cooperate.
Troops will remain in Iraq.
There's nothing wrong.

Fact of the matter is, no one really knows what's going to happen. The only thing we can take for certain is the fact that Bliar is the biggeset cnut in the world.
 

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