Wot the Yanks are Saying - Or Not?

#1
I have just read a disturbing report from The Telegraph in which they say

Mr Brown faced questions over the refusal of British ground troops to help Iraqi forces who were being overwhelmed in Basra. The New York Times reported that the situation in Basra was "deeply embarrassing for Britain" and added that it left Britain "without a clear Iraq policy".

The question is - is the NY Times correct (and I confess I have not read the NY Times at all recently, never mind the article alluded to), did our troops abandon the Iraqi Army? I sincerely hope not.

Can anyone allay my concerns?
 
#3
Sven, the link to the NY Times is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/world/europe/17britain.html?ref=europe

As you can see, the NYT is talking about the broader situation rather than just the specifics of the recent attempt by the Iraqis to launch a surge of their own there.

There was a report in either the Times noting that prime minister Maliki had refused to ask for British help and had instead called upon the 101st Airborne.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3671530.ece

Even so, GR4s provided air support, so there wasn't a point-blank refusal to help.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/28/wirq228.xml

Also, if British troops had been involved, it'd have undermined the argument the govt is offering that the Iraqis are able to do this sort of thing largely on their own, allowing for a reduction in numbers at Basra (a reduction which has, of course, been postponed).
 
#5
Thank You Archimedes, the Torygraph article quite disturbed me. However, did the paper deliberately set out to mislead or was the wording just unfortunate?

I don't suppose we will ever know.
 
#6
Sven said:
Mr Brown faced questions over the refusal of British ground troops to help Iraqi forces who were being overwhelmed in Basra. The New York Times reported that the situation in Basra was "deeply embarrassing for Britain" and added that it left Britain "without a clear Iraq policy".
Wouldn't we have to once have a clear Iraq policy to be 'left without one'?
 
#8
After recently returning from a Caribbean cruise on a Spam ship (Royal Caribbean) and getting into some conversations over dinner, the Americans are starting to feel the Brits are letting them down in Iraq. This has been a topic in US newspapers for some time and the pulling out of Basra was especially mentioned. Despite my protestations of "winning hearts and minds" etc, the general consensus at the table was the surge and increased US military muscle was having more effect than our stand back and let them get on with it approach.
The Telegraph article also mentioned that "senior" (they always say that, probably some Lance Jack in the Really Large Corps) sources in the British Army were fuming at the political interference and would rather have continued assisting the Iraqi forces rather than letting them get on with it. The Yanks on the ship also pointed out the Iraqis called for American help as the British had refused to get involved (this is how it was reported in the US press).
Whether that's true or not would best be answered by those in theatre but an interview on the UK telly a few weeks ago did have a Brit squaddie complaining they were stuck in the confines of barracks whilst they could hear fighting going on but were unable to join in. He sounded a bit cheesed off and said the Brit troops felt a bit like sitting targets without the ability to fight back.
If Gordon is getting stick from the Yanks, imagine how I felt on the ship.
 
#9
exbleep said:
If Gordon is getting stick from the Yanks, imagine how I felt on the ship.
Some quite serious commentators have recently, and very openly, told the UK where to stick their advice on COIN. America has, finally, got over the 'Nam/Malaya thing.

Brit troops in Iraq are victims of a lack of clear policy from Broon and co.

Broon knows casualties will cost him votes. He also knows that proper military operations in Iraq will cost him money. He is not prepared to part lightly with votes or money. Doesn't give a shit about Tommy, however.

His choice, therefore, is to maintain a token force in Basra: it doesn't cost (too) much, and the fact that it is incapable of achieving anything is - in his mind - secondary to the fact that it 'shows we are still in the fight with our American allies".

Not all Septics are dim, however, and even The Chimp in the Oval Office has sussed this little scam, and Americans have now - understandably - grouped the UK with the rest of NATO; like the Germans in AFG we are (for America) now just another bunch of Old World wasters who won't get going, when the going gets tough.

There's a shitload of work to be done to rebuild US confidence in the UK, and neither Broon nor any other LieBar tosser has the credentials to do it.

All of this was predictable. We would have come out of this better, if - having committed to AFG in '01 - we had declined the Iraq gig in '03.

We didn't: our troops are now pissed off, Maliki has no respect for UK plc, our global standing is badly eroded, while (feck-me-down-dead) there's no light at the end of Iraq's tunnel (says Dave Petraeus) and in AFG the Taliban seem to be getting stronger.

Brilliant, just brilliant.[hr]Stonkernote I would not be at all surprised if (aside from Maliki deciding to keep the Basra rumble a secret), Brit troops had been given very, very limiting orders about the circumstances in which they can actually fight.
 
#10
Stonker said:
exbleep said:
If Gordon is getting stick from the Yanks, imagine how I felt on the ship.
Some quite serious commentators have recently, and very openly, told the UK where to stick their advice on COIN. america has, finally got over the 'Nam/Malaya thing.

Brit troops in Iraq are victims of a lack of clear policy from Broon and co.

Broon knows casualties will cost him votes. He also knows that proper military operations in Iraq will cost him money. He is not prepared to part lightly with votes or money. Doesn't give a shit about Tommy, however.

His choice, therefore, is to maintain a token force in Basra: it doesn't cost (too) much, and the fact that it is incapable of achieving anything is - in his mind - secondary to the fact that it 'shows we are still in the fight with our American allies".

Not all Septics are dim, however, and even The Chimp in the Oval Office has sussed this little scam, and Americans have now - understandably - grouped the UK with the rest of NATO; like the Germans in AFG we are (for America) now just another bunch of Old World wasters who won't get going, when the going gets tough.

There's a shitload of work to be done to rebuild US confidence in the UK, and neither Broon nor any other LieBar tosser has the credentials to do it.

All of this was predictable. We would have come out of this better, if - having committed to AFG in '01 - we had declined the Iraq gig in '03.

We didn't: our troops are now pissed off, Maliki has no respect for UK plc, our global standing is badly eroded, while (feck-me-down-dead) there's no light at the end of Iraq's tunnel (says Dave Petraeus) and in AFG the Taliban seem to be getting stronger.

Brilliant, just brilliant.[hr]Stonkernote I would not be at all surprised if (aside from Maliki deciding to keep the Basra rumble a secret), Brit troops had been given very, very limiting orders about the circumstances in which they can actually fight.
The question I would ask is - do we really need the US confidence on this? The US have their own agenda. I don't see ours overlapping to the extent we can't hold a differing agenda. The US had huge confidence in their actions in the initial invasion and the UK went in predominately because IF WE DIDN'T noone else would. Perhaps the yanks should remember that.

As to COIN, I still have the pleasure of being able to say that I wrote the first Iraqi Coin doctrine manual as at 2005. The US bods assigned to help (and were useful but it took a bat around there head to start thinking in the way that helped) that were there at the time initally didn't have a clue. Petraeus may have changed things in his time towards US COIN doctrine(his PhD is on Vietnam after all) but I don't believe that the US has moved and progressed in 3 years to the point they don't need our advice. If they think so, they are being f* stupid.

I don't say we are any better at (Iraqi) COIN but we have and do listen to any and all advice in constructing our doctrine. Our experience is built up over many conflicts over many years of analysis. Perhaps something the US should remember too.
 
#11
I can't remember who said it, but:

I went to Iraq thinking that the Brits could do COIN, and that the yanks couldn't. I was wrong - neither of them could. But the yanks are learning quicker...

There's something to be said for this perhaps, but either way, sitting in the COB probably reinforces another classic:

The brits have the best doctrine in the world; thank God they don't use it...

Discuss?

dpm
 
#12
DPM said:
I can't remember who said it, but:

I went to Iraq thinking that the Brits could do COIN, and that the yanks couldn't. I was wrong - neither of them could. But the yanks are learning quicker...

There's something to be said for this perhaps, but either way, sitting in the COB probably reinforces another classic:

The brits have the best doctrine in the world; thank God they don't use it...

Discuss?

dpm
Yanks learn quicker, eh? :roll: . Depends if you want to apply the Rule of Law in their actions.

I think the biggest difficulty with UK ops is the fact that they have been influenced hugely on misdirected and at times incompetantly organised ops in the N. S* flows ever downwards and the US ops in the N in the early ops were not COIN. They were at best , get our own back, but most of time, the heathens are there and a stiff beating will convert them to our side of the fence. :roll:

UK can do COIN (and I'd suggest there are few, if any nations with better doctrine) but I would say that the circumstances haven't always been there. I would partially agree with you in the fact that UK sensibilities have been used rather than an understanding of what is required by the Iraqi mentality.

In that sense, I think the US ahave the advantage on us. UK HMG (and press) would not allow us to act as the locals may have needed for them to respect us in the context of the local understanding of "appropriate" behavior.

Trouble is that isn't going to change. Perhaps therefore, it is time for us to change our ideas on the UK ability to conduct peacekeeping/peace enforcement ops. That may be the better question.
 
#13
Brown works for the uk not the us .Majority in the uk think iraq was pointless he should grow some balls and pull out and concentrate on Afgan.
Sitting in basra air station really dosent acheive much and I doubt we would be missed.
 
#14
Should do whatever is best for the long-term health of the army imo. Any withdrawal that looked like a defeat / retreat would lead to a massive kicking from the BBC / Channel4. I think that would be very damaging. On the other hand there's the overstretch. Hard to say what's worse.

The neo-con types are splashing simplistic sh*te in US papers but most of them are outside the administration now so who knows if they represent actual policy. A lot of it is just them deflecting criticism from all the mistakes they've made imo.

Petraeus is worth keeping onside as much as possible but otherwise I hope UK generals do whatever's best to keep the army in reasonable nick and ignore both governments.

McBean will either be gone soon or so involved in cabinet infighting his eye will be even further off the ball than has it has been since the beginning. So double-ignore him.
 
#15
Mr_Jones said:
Should do whatever is best for the long-term health of the army imo. Any withdrawal that looked like a defeat / retreat would lead to a massive kicking from the BBC / Channel4. I think that would be very damaging. On the other hand there's the overstretch. Hard to say what's worse.
So, you think the drip-drip degredation of the military is an acceptable consequence of avoiding some bad TV headlines? Seems a no-brainer to me. Can't really think of any BBC/C4 bad press about the military that wasn't self-inflicted by the military itself or its political masters.
 
#16
in_the_cheapseats said:
The question I would ask is - do we really need the US confidence on this?
UK plc is critically dependent on US assets for strategic lift, and Int, and for access to their facilities, if li'l ol' England is to project its military power in any useful way (Falklands War was unwinnable without US assistance, remember?), and there is heavy dependence on US input to the maintenance of our (nominally) independent nuclear strike capability Edited to add: among other things: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/18/us_gov_mulls_eurofighter_sale_to_saudis/

There is also the sensitive matter of our permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Other developing nations aspire to occupy it (e.g. India), and in my view HMG is instinctively aware that we retain that seat only as long as we enjoy the support of Unca Sam.

If you acknowledge (either or both of) these 2 factors, you can see why US confidence is - in all respects - regarded as important.

Given its importance, we should be appalled at how badly this gunmint has eroded it.

in_the_cheapseats said:
I don't say we are any better at (Iraqi) COIN but we have and do listen to any and all advice in constructing our doctrine. Our experience is built up over many conflicts over many years of analysis. Perhaps something the US should remember too.
What Americans remember is their numbers, hardware and firepower (and latterly Marshall plan dollars) baling us out in/after WW2; with Monty claiming as much glory as he could for an army a fraction the size of America's, which liberated only a tiny fraction of what American troops liberated in 1994-45 and which couldn't (or wouldn't) even pull its finger out over Arnhem.

They remember being humiliated in SE Asia - while Brits (policing their own withdrawal from Malaya, remember) made superior comments about COIN, forgetting that few other Brit operations of that nature ended in anything like the same clear success.

Since its nadir in the mid-70s, the US military - in particular the Army - has rebuilt itself into a fearsomely efficient fighting machine, emphasising mass, speed, technology and overwhelming concentrations of firepower in all conflicts.

Brits - lacking mass, technology and firepower - have argued these have no place in COIN. Americans see our failure in Basra as giving the lie to that. In pretty much the same timeframe that Brits have pulled out of Basra, Petraeus has radically shifted the operational behaviour of American forces and enjoyed tactical success as a result, without abandoning the use of overwhelming firepower.

It is hardly surprising that Americans interpret this as "proving" they were right and we were wrong, all along. Brit prospects of seriously being listened to in the near future? Not good, methinks.

Which takes us back directly to the issue of American confidence in Britain.

It is a mess.
 
#17
Stonker,

The latest US COIN Doctrine is extremely good - albeit extremely Iraq centric (obvious) - and they have borrowed heavily from Brit principles and admitted as such to a lesser extent - and also from the Aussies, amongst others. This has, at some cost, made them experts in COIN - not without a high cost in blood and money, but their COIN doctrine is streets ahead of anyone elses. A key factor to this is that other govt agencies are heavily involved in it - both US and Iraqi and it is slowly delivering the goods...

This makes us Brits look doubly stupid - we were very happy to tell them they knew nothing about and were doing it all wrong back in 2003/4 and then what have we done - lost the insurgency in Basra. You can dress it up in all sorts of ways but IMHO, Basra cannot be a big tick in the 'victories' column, not from a military pov but because our government had no idea about COIN either. The Army did but where were FCO and DfID when we needed them...

Which reinforces your point about US confidence in Britain. We can, I believe, make up for this a bit in AFG if we start getting this right - and this means that FCO (who are the lead UK Govy agency) and DfID start reading about COIN and realising that they aren't pulling their weight... which they would if the FCO had a foreign policy to start with....

Sven - don't forget that the main job of the Torygraph is to bash Broon - and sell papers in the process....

Adjt
 
#18
Adjutant said:
Which reinforces your point about US confidence in Britain. We can, I believe, make up for this a bit in AFG if we start getting this right - and this means that FCO (who are the lead UK Govy agency) and DfID start reading about COIN and realising that they aren't pulling their weight... which they would if the FCO had a foreign policy to start with....
Mebbe - but only 'a bit'. Remember that the guy in charge is Bomber McNeill: he shows no sign whatever of inclining towards the Brits. The reverse, if anything is true - and in my estimation, Petraeus' doctrine has washed over him, without fundamentally changing his approach to 'his'conflict.
 
#19
spoke to some yanks today on my course, they indicated that is all messed up anyway, they understand the political restraints impossed on the British in Iraq, also they said the USMC is loosing folk (that is they are loosing interest) as they are not allowed to fight as much as before... So they are leaving the USMC??
 
#20
Sven said:
I have just read a disturbing report from The Telegraph in which they say

Mr Brown faced questions over the refusal of British ground troops to help Iraqi forces who were being overwhelmed in Basra. The New York Times reported that the situation in Basra was "deeply embarrassing for Britain" and added that it left Britain "without a clear Iraq policy".

The question is - is the NY Times correct (and I confess I have not read the NY Times at all recently, never mind the article alluded to), did our troops abandon the Iraqi Army? I sincerely hope not.

Can anyone allay my concerns?
We don't seem to get much detailed news of what the British forces are actually doing in Iraq. The impression is that they are sitting in their 'fortress' airbase doing nothing. I am sure they must be doing some 'real' soldiering?

If the government policy is to keep casualties down at all costs, then maybe we should be performing some other role with those troops, if we are not going to get involved in Basra City itself. There is a long border with Iran which does need policing more heavily. Maybe we should take a more high profile role there and at least do something worthwhile, which our allies and the world can see.

We are getting a poor press and this does nothing for the image of the British Armed forces, but then our politicians are in the self-preservation game, first and foremost.

Another question. Is it in Britains national interest to withdraw from Iraq?. If not, then when do we leave and on what timetable?.
My belief is that it is in our interests to stay, until it is in our interests to leave. Now when that is, I think nobody can say, but we should be prepared for the long haul, if needs be. Economically there is a lot at stake. After all that is why the war was fought.

My two cents for what it is worth.
 

Latest Threads

Top