US troops to help deluded British in southern Iraq

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Semper_Flexibilis, May 13, 2008.

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  1. Never fear, the Yanks are here!

    US troops to help 'deluded' British in southern Iraq
    By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
    Last Updated: 2:32AM BST 13/05/2008

    American troops will be deployed to southern Iraq this summer with orders to adopt a more robust approach than the "self-delusional" British.

    A senior US officer has told the Telegraph that Iraqi troops had not been ready to assume responsibility for Basra when British forces withdrew late last year.

    He also said that US commanders in Iraq believe the Shia south is ready to copy the developments that transformed the western province of Anbar from being the main hotbed of insurgency into one of Iraq's most peaceful regions. To foster this change, US troops are moving south for the first time since the 2003 war.

    "There's going to be a whole new approach when we send troops down there," said the US officer.

    "We won't take the self-delusional route of convincing ourselves that the Iraqis are ready to fight but then standing back while they fall apart.

    "They're not ready and we have to be more proactive. There's too much at stake."

    Britain has been in charge of four provinces in southern Iraq since Saddam Hussein's downfall. While the divisional command will continue to operate under British leadership at Basra airbase, the orders of the US units will be to "get out front" and resume patrols and combat missions.

    US hopes of making the whole of Iraq secure before its eventual withdrawal have been raised by what commanders see as a potential southern version of the Sahwa, or tribal awakening, which turned locals against al-Qa'eda.

    Troops have been shifted from Anbar province to the Tallil airbase, Nasiriya, to assume responsibility from 550 Australian troops pulling out of the country.

    According to the US assessment, the Australians followed the mistakes of the British by pulling back to "overwatch" local forces but then neglecting the security challenges in the area.

    The US officer said its allies had adopted a "University of Arizona" attitude - American slang for being rigid and unimaginative. "There's dirty work to be done and we've got to go forward to it," he said.
  2. They're probably right in a sense, the withdrawal to Basra airbase was a political one based on not having enough manpower left to do the job as far as I can see. I don't think it reflects badly on the troops though.
  3. I actually agree.

    Its not the lads on the ground, but the tossers back at Whitehall/Westminster that have caused the problem.
  4. from my civvie perspective, the decision was due to browns political cowardice rather than any military strategy.

    I just hope our allies realise where the problem really lies, and do not blame the UK military.

  5. It was always said with the right numbers, right kit and right support we could have wrapped up Basra

    Politicians should let the soldiers get on with job

    The "Delusional" aspect isn't really about British troops as it seems in the thread title and article. A bit imflamatory IMO but makes good copy......
  6. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Agree with all the points in all the posts.

    Rather than commit troops we didn't have, because of gobment cutbacks, the gobment have put UK forces in the back seat in the South.

    That is indeed a political decision based on political cowardice and short-sightedness, not in the least bit the fault of our forces who have done exceptionally well what they have been asked to, with a fraction of what the US military has by comparison: this being troop numbers, equipment, funding AND political support.
  7. From where I sit, a long way from Basra, senior British officers have also been responsible for hanging on to the softly softly approach for far too long.

    They too must take some responsibility. However, it is clear that Brown is desperate to keep British casualties out of the press and in doing so has emasculated British influence.

    I admire the way the Americans never give up.

    Overall, the invasion of Iraq must go down as one of the stupidest ideas in living memory.

    Good luck to all those serving in the God foresaken place.
  8. I think that the Iraqi's in Basra needed a kick up the ar5e and get on with sorting their own mess out - pulling out of the front line forced them to confront the militia's and stop hiding behind the coalition. The septics, in my view, are reluctant to hand over control.
  9. Politicians with military experience have some idea what we're up against. Brown/B-liar, Hoon & co remain clueless.

  10. I agree with you. There was an arrse thread recently on 'tied aid' to third world countries. Most posts seemed to support the idea we didn't give money to poor countires, as it creates dependency and it fails to encourage them to take responsiblity for themselves.

    IIRC, the recent 'debacle' in Basra was created by the commitment of Iraqi forecs too soon. Maliki deployed troops for political reasons, with the support of the Americans. This was contrary to the planning and opinion of the local Iraqi divisional commander, who was dismissed before the operation. His opinion was that with further training and preparation the operation could have been succesful later in the year.

    There is a lot at stake here-the legitimacy of the Iraqi state, and it's armed forces.

    These are undermined by operations that fail- but even more so by operations that appear to be run for the Americans/ British whether militarily sucecsful or not. The recent operation and the American response to it will not futher the stated aims of the coalition (i.e. to create a functioning Iraqi state). Deploying American forces offensively in Basra will likely estrange Basrawis further from the coalition generally. And reduce the image of the independence of the Iraqi army.

    The 'withdrawl' to Basrah Airport is both desirable to free up forces to support operations in Afghanistan, and to further the development of the Iraqi state and it's armed forces.
  11. Ex-post facto justification of a policy decision by HMG made for entirely different reasons.
  12. What did one expect from the Cheney administration ? This was the man who accused Schwarzkopf of being a General McClellan in GW1.
  13. I see a fundamental problem with the Seppos view of things in the south. It's not 'foreign' AQ doing the fighting like in Anbar, it's Shiite locals and bombing them may not sit well with the locals if US forces start causing 'collateral damage'… aka killing lots of civilians. Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani may not be too chuffed.
  14. Ex post facto or not, the ultimate aim is to withdraw and let the Iraqis crack on, is it not?

    Could be now, could be twenty years time. The critical things are actually the conditions in the country. The state of the Iraqi security forces, the legimatimacy of the Iaqi Govt. and so on.

    Now, as it was reported in some places at the time, Maliki's approach at the time was both ill judged from a military point of view and in fact created a 'critical political moment' when one wasn't needed and in fact the cards were stacked against him. The decision was perhaps driven more by factors other than the local and national security situation.

    Another important factor is how much resources the British can and should devote to supporting that aim. And again this is a debateable issue. Not only does our Iraq policy vie for resources with our Afghanistan policy, it competes with other defence policies and of course other national policies, like the rate of taxation, how much we pay nurses, and so on.

    The debate over policy out there should be conducted in these terms. This is actually what I was hoping to provoke. The truth is that I've not much better idea of the conditions in southern Iraq than any newspaper reading British person, and I'm as entitled to an opinion on our national priorities as much as the next man.

    However, there might be someone on this website better informed or with a novel idea how to solve the problems, and getting the thread onto a higher level is what I was up to.
  15. That's an interesting point- one I was trying to tease out.

    I think what the seppos don't see is that their intervention, whilst it may provide some kind of security in the short term (for about as long as their forces are around), it does not stable Iraqi society make.