Welcome to Basra - Times article ref IDF

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Pasty Boy, Jul 22, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Something from Saturday's Times, I haven't spotted it yet on ARRSE but unfortunately it is quite timely given the incidents of the past week. As many of us have said, it was only a matter of time, however it appears to me that very few people back in UK are aware of the current IDF threat. Its a bit long but worth the read if you have no knowledge of the situation: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2112794.ece

    Welcome to Basra - get ready to hit the deck ten times a day

    I was wandering over to the condiment table in the mess hall in search of a sachet of tomato ketchup when the siren sounded: a long, low wail. In a split second my fellow diners – camouflaged soldiers and civvy-clad contractors – had flung themselves to the floor or crawled under the nearest table, their arms held protectively over their heads.

    A day earlier I had been talking to two medics as they relaxed under a camouflage net waiting for their next emergency call. As the siren came, they threw themselves on the ground with military precision while I clumsily fell off my chair and on to a pile of cigarette ash.

    The scenes can appear a little comic. But there is nothing funny about them for the soldiers who live day in, day out with rockets and mortar bombs – so-called indirect fire attacks – pounding the British airbase in Basra up to ten times a day.

    The first that anyone on the base usually knows about it is from the siren, by which time the rockets or mortar bombs, mostly leftovers from Saddam’s looted arsenal, are already well on their way from their launch several miles away. Their target is the air traffic control tower, the only structure tall enough in a sprawling base as big as a small city to be seen from miles away.

    A sophisticated warning system picks up tremors created by the launch and triggers the alarm a couple of seconds before impact. Sometimes, though, the missile is quicker and you hear its whistle, or the “crump” of the rocket landing, before the alarm breaks into a wail.

    The drill is taught to everyone, military or civilian, who comes to the base. Throw yourself to the floor, and if separated from your body armour or helmet, wait three minutes from the last explosion before crawling to them, putting them on and seeking hard cover. Then you must wait it out, in armour, for the siren to sound “all-clear”.

    On the base you are never far from your body armour: during my week’s visit I had to take it with me everywhere, even when I was not wearing it. Even on a 30-yard trudge to the lavatory block in the middle of the night.

    Everything comes to a halt the moment an attack strikes. One day we were aboard a helicopter about to land at the Contingency Operating Base when the airfield came under attack. The pilot was forced to circle until the all-clear siren sounded.

    Mealtimes and the night are favourite times for attacks – just when soldiers are trying to relax. Some sleep in hardcover cabins, most in tents, where each of their beds is protected by a little pen of breeze blocks inside which they live.

    Some are lucky enough to have the new “Baghdad Bed”, a bunk bed with a bulletproof top where the upper bunk would be. Others with camp beds simply put their mattress on the floor so that they do not have to roll out of bed every time the alarm goes off.

    It gets tiring, mentally and physically. But the soldiers’ tireless discipline is exemplary. While The Times photographer and I sigh and clamber off our chairs, they throw themselves down flat in the blink of an eye, even for the seventh time in a day.

    “It’s Pavlovian now,” a soldier tells us as we sprawl on the – pleasantly carpeted – floor of a temporary building. Everyone from general to civilian must follow suit – except Tony Blair, who, with foresight, remained upright under mortar attack on a visit to Baghdad for fear that the press would snatch a shot of him sprawled on the ground and under fire in the country that he had helped to liberate.

    Our driver, Radders, pulls out a notebook and starts scrawling down the date and time, and the number of missiles that have landed. How many have there been? “Have a look for yourself,” he says, flipping through the densely packed notebook filled with dates and times, appended with little notes on particularly inconvenient moments: “In the shower”.

    The military does not release official figures of the number of attacks. In Radders’s time here, the highest daily count has been 26 attacks, each comprising an average of three or four missiles.

    Most say that this month has been quiet but Christy Hooson, a medic, notes how much the attacks have increased since last year. “On my last tour I had three rockets and they were always a bit of a joke,” she says. “Now these aren’t a joke.”

    It is perhaps miraculous that the missiles do not more often cause the tragedy that they did this week, when three British servicemen were killed. A small crater in the concrete close to the helicopter launch pad, and the holes that shrapnel has dug in the blast walls and nearby corrugated iron roof, demonstrate what they could do to human flesh.

    The military is highly adept at locating the firing sites. But launchers are often put on timers, so that by the time they fire, the assailants are long gone. And they are often fired from sites at which the attackers know the British will not retaliate, such as a football field where children play.

    There is little to suggest that these circumstances will improve. Soon British troops will withdraw from Basra Palace, the main city base, and an even greater magnet for indirect fire attacks, to hand it over to Iraqi control. That will leave the Contingency Operating Base as the only target remaining for those who want to drive the British out.

    This kind of attack, although rarely fatal, is a source of significant stress for troops. The enemy is faceless and distant. They cannot fight back. “It is frustrating,” one soldier tells me, with a grimace of understatement.

    For many, the effects of being under constant attack last long after they leave the base. Craftswoman Hooson’s tour will end in a month but the effect of the attacks will go on much longer. “My birthday’s on Bonfire Night and I am absolutely dreading it this year because I’ve had about 500 rockets on my tour, and one hit ten metres away, and that really wasn’t nice,” she says. “I hate feeling scared.”

    As I wait in a tent for the Hercules to take me out of Basra to rocket-free Qatar, there is one last attack. Beside me a civilian contractor sighs and climbs slowly down, putting on his helmet before continuing with his crossword on the floor. “I’ve been here too long,” he says.
     
  2. Why can't you fight back? Why don't you have Predators circling over the nearby towns, why don't you have counter artillery ready to go? Oh right, hearts and minds, as if you have won them in the first place.

    But tell me how good you lot are at drill again, it thrills a secret moist side of me.
     
  3. I enjoyed reading it lying on the floor of my office (no, really). Shame it only made page 36. I was hoping some of the nationals might pick up on the story but alas...
     
  4. Yes, you really are a cock aren't you.
     
  5. it puts a bit of rain into perspective!

    Ski.
     
  6. I was going to bite and say something that would of been nasty and insulting to lost US soldiers but realised that it would be disgraceful doing that to any soldiers lost in war unlike you do. TWAT. If you are actually a soldier your a disgrace to which ever side of the ocean you really are. I hope that your mates see your posts and dish out the kicking you justly deserve. We have lost service personnel this week and dont need your constant drivel you C0CK.
     
  7. Why get angry at me? Is it because I hit the sweet spot?

    I mean no disrespect to British dead. I honour them the same as American dead.

    The problem is that you lot think you are so high and mighty and put upon in this war and so impeachably good and superior, you need your back doors blown in once in a while.

    The British army, while applying the jock strap lash to American egos only too happily, seem not to understand that they are the ones who learn slowly. All your small unit training, etc, you learnt through repetition rather than observation. Look at how far the Americans have come. Yet the Brits are still fixated with Northern Oireland and suchlike. How far have your army progressed in the last 6 years? Not as far as the Yanks, I would say.

    If the Chief of Army reads this, I would say, "Sir, perhaps the problems are your generals after all."
     
  8. More to the point, the article steers away from discussing what (if any) protective measures are in place for damn good reasons. You just exposed your glaring ignorance for the whole world to see.
     
  9. And what have all the Predators and Arty done to prevent American bases being targeted by IDF attacks?

    Chinese rockets and mortars are not a method of attack that exclusive aimed at the Brits - one or two have been known to fall in Uncle Sams back yard.
     
  10. USALegate wrote:
    We do have ISTAR assets however they are learning and dont sit out in the open nor hang around waiting to be struck in return.

    Hearts & Minds: yes we have respect for them and hence our rules of engagement are different to yours. Also your complete disregard for hearts & minds and ignorance of the principles of counter-insurgency operations has probably contributed more to the current situation than anything else.

    The US Chain of Command, both Dept of State & Dept of Defence, had no plan for Iraq after the initial war-fighting stage and thus tried to make it up as they went along. However during this time many war-crimes were committed and thousands of innocent people were detained and many of them abused by ignorant idiots, thus driving more into the arms of the militias. No-one listened to the hearts & minds guys (C.A.) as it wasnt offensive, which was all many commanders cared about.

    In agreement with Lord_Vetinari, you are a c@ck! Please dont mouth off unless you have any understanding of the situation.
     
  11. I assume you are an officer, Pasty boy, one of those Household Cavalry good old boy types who walk like he's got a riding crop holstered up his rear pipe?

    >>ISTAR assets

    if you say so.

    >>complete disregard for hearts & minds and ignorance of the principles of counter-insurgency operations has probably contributed more to the current situation than anything else.

    except that you have a free hand in Basra with nary an American in sight, BUT the natives there hate you as much as the Americans are hated up north.

    But blame America if it helps your fitness report and if you can put off change for another Telic.

    >> The US Chain of Command, both Dept of State & Dept of Defence, had no plan for Iraq after the initial war-fighting stage and thus tried to make it up as they went along.

    Actually no. Not only didn't we have any plan, thanks to our political masters, we didn't "make it up". That's not the American way. We did it by trial and error. Far messier but more scientific. Have to break eggs to make an omelete.

    >>However during this time many war-crimes were committed and thousands of innocent people were detained and many of them abused by ignorant idiots, thus driving more into the arms of the militias.

    Except that would be denying the tribal nature of the region innit? Tell me how loved the Brits are down south again. And I faintly remember a video where Brits were beating the hell out of young Iraqis.

    Thousands of war crimes? Do you know what war crimes is? War crimes is filling a mass grave, not holding the collar of a terrorist and booting his bottom all the way from the safehouse to the truck.

    But let's blame the Americans. Everyone knows that the Iraqis have no free will in life and they lived in a chocolate river gumdrop dewy paradise before 2003.

    You do know that we're working with Sunni militias now right? Are you working with Shia militias yet? Oh wait, that's right, you can't because your inactivity allowed Iran to join as an unofficial member of the Coalition. *taps me nose*

    >>Please dont mouth off unless you have any understanding of the situation.

    I would say that the Brits have a lot to answer for for the course of the Iraq war as well.
     
  12. >>And what have all the Predators and Arty done to prevent American bases being targeted by IDF attacks?

    Chinese rockets and mortars are not a method of attack that exclusive aimed at the Brits - one or two have been known to fall in Uncle Sams back yard. >>


    Yup, but there's always a stern response. Take for example the period in Feb when helicopters were being shot out of the sky from roving truck-mounted HMGs. After blasting many apart with Apaches and hunting their leaders, no helicopter loss since.

    And at the very least, the brass should do something, becasue the British Army in Iraq is extremely demoralised. They can sacrifice squaddies to rescue agents and people under torture (although they must have been led by one of the posh recon units, who knocked down one of the police stations first only to find it's the wrong one), but they do nothing to protect Brit bases against aggression. Beating the **** out of people who volley mortars into base is a good start.
     
  13. It is a bit late for hearts and minds. Decent accommodation would help though, 4 years on.
     
  14. Hearts and minds does work in a way, If you just grab them by the balls their hears and minds will follow........
     
  15. edited for hearts.