Tag Archives: British Troops

British General Defends Basra Military Policies

British General Sir Richard Dannatt sent an open letter to his troops in which he defended the miltary strategy employed in handling the Basra area. There is considerable unrest among British soldiers who now are confined to the Basra airport even as fighting rages inside Basra. “I can not deny that there are many who said that they would rather be at the forefront of the operations(as CGS I think I would be worried if I headed an Army that did not express such views), but those same individuals were all mature enough to understand it is right that the Iraqis are now taking the lead. Indeed, these are exactly the nature of operations that we have been pressing for some months-an Iraq solution to an Iraq problem.”

General Dannatt expressed his view that, while Iraq led operations made numerous mistakes, the overall conclusion is the Iraqi army did accomplish its goals of establishing its presence in Basra. “The Iraqi plan is working and is delivering what we sought.” He indicated the future role of British forces would be to “mentor the Iraqi Security Forces” and to avoid assuming a major role in military operations.

Ironically, many American political leaders are urging a similar policy on the part of American forces, but President Bush insists the Iraqis are not quite ready. Perhaps, if the British model of forcing them to get ready was utilized, the United States Army could begin to envision itself as a mentoring rather than a fighting force.

Another Day In Afghanistan, Another Civilian Death

Almost seven years have passed since American and local Afghan forces swept the country clean of its Taliban leaders. The vast majority of people welcomed a respite from the onerous and medieval thinking Taliban leadership which endeavored to control all aspects of daily life. Yesterday, as NATO forces battled miliants, British soldiers called in an air strike against the enemy’s position. As all too often, in such cases of air attacks, the insurgents got away but two women and two children lay dead from bombs of their liberators. The British Military of Defense said their troops called for air strikes when they were ambushed. Of course, regrets were expressed, perhaps some money will be paid out, and four more dead Afghan civilians are added to the total of those who have died.

The initial Bush failure to wipe out the Taliban because of his desire to invade Iraq continues to haunt those now fighting in Afghanistan. There simply are not enough troops to conduct a proper military operation and thus the extensive resort to bombing. Seven years far surpasses the time necessary to win WWII or WWI. Perhaps, it is time to exploe alternative political strategies for bringing peace to the people of Afghanistan.

Basra In Security Crisis As British Depart

The police force charged with maintaining law and order in Basra are no match for the militia groups which now, essentially, are in control of the city. Lt. Gen. Jaleel al-Shuwaili claimed militia forces controlled the main ports and terminals in the province and which Basra is the capital, and his forces were incapable of challenging their power. The British military which until recently “controlled” Basra never really interfered with the militia groups and allowed them to run wild and lawless. the police are powerless to even investigate the rise crime and move away from even taking action against militia faction which kill women for “improper un-Islamic dress.” Provincial Council leader, Mohammad Saadoun, supported this view of reality noting that militia groups have carved out “fiefdoms” in which they impose law and order according to their own interpretations. He believes Basra is facing a “security crisis” with an ineffectual police and no ability on the part of the Iraqi army to impose its will on the militia groups.

General Petraeus and President Bush are boasting about the surge’s success in reducing violence in Baghdad. They are correct on that point, but, in the meantime lawlessness is increasing all over Iraq and the southern region which is centered around Basra has lost all semblance of control by the national government. Perhaps, surge troops will be sent south.

British Forces Turn Over Basra Control To Iraq Government

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a trip to Basra in Iraq to formalize handing over control of the city and area to Iraqi forces. He commented, “not that violence has ended, but we are able to move to provincial Iraqi control.” Brown contacted Prime Minister Maliki who was pleased that within two weeks, Iraqi forces would be in control of the area. However, Basra’s chief of police, Jalil Khalaf, was still uncertain if his forces could manage ensuring security for the area.

British troops are in the process of completely evacuating the area and allowing Iraq police and soldiers to handle security. In a sense, it is good news that Iraq feels confident it can handle security issues, but, the bad news is what happens when British troops are complete withdrawn? Will there be new outbreaks of violence? Have Sunni and Shiites been able to agree on issues in order to ensure that both groups feel comfortable with the Shiite government in control? There are as many questions as answers in the rather complex problem of how to withdraw without opening the doors to renewed violence.