US troops to help deluded British in southern Iraq

#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.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...-help-'deluded'-British-in-southern-Iraq.html
 
#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.
 
#4
EX_STAB said:
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.
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.

Ski.
 
#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......
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
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.
 
#10
LondonCalling said:
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.

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
Jelly_Fish said:
LondonCalling said:
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.

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.
Ex-post facto justification of a policy decision by HMG made for entirely different reasons.
 
#12
nigegilb said:
Overall, the invasion of Iraq must go down as one of the stupidest ideas in living memory.
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
Oil_Slick said:
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.
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.
 
#16
Jelly_Fish said:
Oil_Slick said:
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.
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.

Correct, I don't think they grasp that by taking on the Shiite militias they will be effectively taking sides in an inter-factional struggle. We've always been careful to avoid taking one Shiite side over another, I don't think they can be as objective.

Al Malikis US encouraged abortive assault on Al Sadr was nothing more than a political move by Al Maliki to bolster his Shiite credentials at the expense of Al Sadr.
 
#18
I would dearly love to trot out the usual 'bloody yanks, we help them out and this is the thanks we get' line but it's time we faced the truth. The officer quoted in the article is right. In fact, he doesn't go far enough. We badly let the US down in Basra and they have every right to remind us of the fact whenever we are tempted to gob off in future. Thanks to our brave politicos' desire to get the hell out of dodge as quickly as possible - job done or not - we have lost the bragging rights we built up over three decades in Ulster.

The biggest tragedy of it all is that the lads on the ground (all of them, from Generals to Privates) would have 'gone out and fought' if we'd been asked to, as evidenced by the times on earlier Telics when we did exactly that. As with the American forces in Vietnam, our masters back in London have managed to get us 'basically defeated' (to quote another US officer) in Basra without us losing a single military engagement. The courage of the forces in Iraq, the ultimate sacrifice of 176 and the wounding in action of around 600 (more than all the US's other allies put together) has - heart-breakingly - been for nothing.

I don't like to think of myself as part of the mob that automatically blames the Government for everything, nor as the kind of soldier who likes to wallow in self-pity and make out we are some sort of victimised minority. But in this case, however, for the first time I can begin to see why German squaddies joined the Freikorps after the Great War. The f*cking bastards in Westminster and Whitehall wept crocodile tears for the coffins being sent back home, ignored the evidence on the ground to see what they wanted to see and - just for good measure - decided that mid-Telic was a good time to destroy some of the Regiments that had faithfully carried out their orders. And the rest of the country just goes shopping and switches on Big Brother.

The US have every right to be disgusted with us because quite frankly, I'm disgusted and ashamed of myself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV2aJ1tuC6M
 
#19
who would make a good defence sec and defence minister???

Prince Will and Prince Harry?

Jim Davidson

Clarkson

Ross Kemp

any other suggestions
 
#20
Seems a bit bldy strange to go into a war and then conveniently wriggle out leaving an ally to pick up the mess. Basra has to be part of the overall strategy, which has to be US led. Regardless of how ready or not the Iraqi Army is to take control, it's shameful to find our own easy exit route and leave the Yanks with the massive problem of extracting themselves from Iraq.

The biggest failing of this campaign will be if it causes a rift in US / UK trust and relations.
 

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