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SWJED
09-09-2006, 04:59 PM
8 September posting to the Foreign Policy Research Institute web page - Succeeding in Phase IV: British Perspectives on the U.S. Effort To Stabilize and Reconstruct Iraq (http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20060908.military.garfield.britishperspectiveiraq. html) by Andrew Garfield. Here is the executive summary:


In early 2005 a British-American research team sponsored by FPRI commenced a study of British and U.S. approaches to stabilization and reconstruction (S&R) operations as demonstrated in Iraq. Their complete findings will be presented at a briefing to be held on September 19 in Washington, DC. At that time, two monograph-length reports will be released, one offering British perspectives, the other American perspectives (“Changing Tires on the Fly: The Marines and Postconflict Stability Ops,” by Frank G. Hoffman). This essay summarizes the first report.

FPRI hopes that these studies will help U.S. military and civilian planners to refine a set of best practices and develop a set of principles or considerations, which can form the basis of a coherent and integrated national level framework for S&R operations. FPRI acknowledges the research contributions of King’s College in London and the Terrorism Research Center in northern Virginia, and the financial support provided by the Smith Richardson Foundation.

The 2:00-3:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 19 briefing will be held at the Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 N. Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC. It is open to the public but reservations are required. It will also be video webcast. To reserve to attend the briefing or for information on viewing the briefing online, email lux@fpri.org.

By invading Iraq, the U.S. and its Coalition partners have undertaken probably the most challenging nation-building exercise since the end of World War II. The Coalition has set itself the task of fundamentally transforming Iraqi society, restoring stability to a war- and sanctions-ravaged country and reconstructing Iraq’s political order. This monumental task has been further complicated by a succession of well-documented strategic errors, tactical blunders, and operational shortcomings. The list would surely include: the commitment of too few troops, often with the wrong equipment and training for counterinsurgency warfare; hasty turnover of responsibility to unready Iraqis in the search for an early exit; and failure to seal the borders as part of a larger strategy to gain regional support for the project. Further aggravating the situation is the predictable emergence of a tenacious, resilient, and complex insurgency. This enemy continues to demonstrate its ability to challenge the most powerful conventional military in the world. So far, the U.S. military has achieved only tactical parity with this adversary.

The U.S. government and military are now learning from their experience in Iraq, but the danger remains that not all of the right lessons will be learned, especially by a military that retains a strong conventional-warfare bias. The perspectives of observers who can objectively highlight strengths and weaknesses might be useful in this regard. We interviewed British officials and officers, U.S. military officers, and both British and American subject-matter experts for this study. British interviewees freely acknowledged U.S. preeminence in conventional warfare, but also felt that the greatest strength of the British military—unconventional warfare against asymmetric adversaries—was the greatest weakness of the U.S. military. This is troubling, because the U.S. will not always be able to rely on allies for support in long asymmetric conflicts.

SWJED
02-20-2007, 11:08 PM
20 February AP - Blair to Announce Iraq Withdrawal Plan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001028.html).


Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Wednesday a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6380933.stm).

Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified...

SWJED
02-20-2007, 11:17 PM
20 February Reuters - Iraqis Take Basra Command as U.K. Plans Troop Cuts (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001088.html).


Britain put Iraqis in command of the main Iraqi army unit in Basra on Tuesday, a move billed as paving the way for Washington's main ally to formally announce major cutbacks in troops.

"The Iraqi Army division based in Basra has transferred from under coalition command, and is now -- for the first time -- taking its orders direct from an Iraqi headquarters in Baghdad," the British military said in a statement.

"The transfer is a significant step toward Iraqi forces taking responsibility for security in the city."

Britain has not yet formally announced cutbacks to its force in Iraq, but Defense Secretary Des Browne has said he hopes to bring thousands of troops home by the end of this year.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Sunday that Britain would draw down its force in Iraq once Iraqis were responsible for security in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city.

He has said he will update parliament about the British mission in Iraq at the close of a four-month security operation in Basra -- Operation Sinbad -- which ended last week...

tequila
05-21-2007, 03:38 PM
Reports a Scottish paper (http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=782222007)via Iraqslogger.



GORDON Brown will remove all British forces from Iraq before the next election under a plan to rebuild support among disillusioned Labour voters.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal the Prime Minister elect is working on a withdrawal plan that could see troop numbers slashed from 7,000 to as few as 2,000 within 12 months.

If implemented, the strategy would culminate in total withdrawal no later than spring 2010, the date by which Brown must go to the country to seek his own mandate.

Policy under Tony Blair involved keeping a small force in Iraq for many years to come. But it emerged last night that President George Bush has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement from Downing Street within Brown's first 100 days in power ...


Perhaps in anticipation, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyr Zebari pleads with Brown not to withdraw troops (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2084638,00.html).

Related: Ghaith Abdul Ahad in the Guardian "Welcome to Tehran" - How Iran took control of Basra (http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,2083389,00.html). Despite the title, the article details how Basra is up for grabs among a variety of competing Shia groups - Sadr's Mahdi Army, SIIC, Fadhila, and an array of mafia and tribal groups.

Jedburgh
12-09-2007, 01:53 PM
UK House of Commons Defence Committee, 3 Dec 07: UK Land Operations in Iraq (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdfence/110/110.pdf)

For UK Forces serving in Iraq, 2007 has been a very significant year. Responsibility for security across much of South Eastern Iraq has now been transferred to local Iraqi control. Basra, the final province remaining under UK direction, will pass to Iraqi control in December 2007. With transition has come a change in the role of UK Forces, from combat operations to overwatch.

The security situation in Iraq continues to cause concern. While the surge of additional US Forces under the command of General David Petraeus appears to have been successful in countering the worst of the sectarian violence, the precarious security situation continues to impede progress towards political reconciliation. In South Eastern Iraq, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of attacks against UK and Coalition Forces since the decision was taken to withdraw from Basra Palace, but there has been no corresponding reduction in the number of attacks against the civilian population of Basra.

The development of capable and effective Iraqi Security Forces is fundamental to the longterm security of Iraq and to the drawdown and eventual withdrawal of UK Forces. Significant progress has been achieved over the past year in training, mentoring and equipping the Iraqi Army. The 10th Division, which following transition to Iraqi control in Basra will be responsible for security across South Eastern Iraq, is now reported to be close to achieving full operational readiness. However, similar progress has not been achieved with the Iraqi Police. There remain murderous, corrupt and militia-infiltrated elements within the Police which must be rooted out as a matter of priority. The UK continues to play an important role in training and mentoring the Iraqi Army and Police. It is unclear how its trainers will be supported once UK force levels are reduced further in the Spring.....
Complete 102 page report at the link.

davidbfpo
01-26-2008, 02:06 PM
On 16/1/08 The Independent (London) published an article by Kevin Myers, called Battle for hearts and minds is being won by US in Anbar:

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/battle-for-hearts-and-minds--is-being-won-by-us-in-anbar-1266951.html?startindex=0&sort=old

An interesting article which suggests that 'two British army officers serving in Baghdad, first Major General Graham Lamb, and then Major General Paul Newton, began to urge that the coalition's enemies must be made into their friends'.

I recall the deputy commander was British, possibly one of these men and was reported a few months ago as being involved in direct talks with the coalitions enemies.

davidbfpo

Norfolk
01-26-2008, 03:29 PM
Interesting piece david - and that lesson has moved into Afghanistan as well (despite at least one spectacular failure). The Brits are doing some interesting work there; I wonder whether that was a British response to Karzai's efforts to bring less extreme elements of the Taleban into the fold, or whether the British have been proposing this to their allies who have subsequently found it to be worth a try.

Couple this to having US Marines, with their institutional tradition of Small Wars, in place, and it makes for a potent approach to COIN. Now if only we could have those same Marines enforcing Brit negotiating efforts in Afghanistan...

davidbfpo
03-16-2008, 07:54 PM
Published 10th March 2008, Sir Hilary Synnott’s Bad Days in Basra: My Turbulent Time As Britain’s Man in Southern Iraq (I.B. Tauris, £17.99). and several reviews on the web. This is from The Spectator (UK):

I am hugely enjoying – if that’s not too inappropriate a word – Synnott, who was our most senior representative in the Coalition Provisional Alliance in the south of the country, is refreshingly candid. "Ultimately," he admits as early as the Prologue, "the CPA (was) a failure". While the subject is of course depressing, shocking and essentially heavy-going, Synnott manages to find a lightness of touch in the telling which makes the book extremely engaging and distinguishes it from other, more relentlessly hard-going Iraq memoirs (at one point Synnott jokes that he almost considered calling his Bugger Basra!) Nevertheless there is a powerful message for the future at the book’s core; namely, that we should treat the "seductive line of argument that the Iraq experience was a worst-case anomaly… that the like will not occur again" with the utmost suspicion. In the current international climate, he argues, "it seems more, not less probable that the international community will be presented with challenges stemming from fragile states which directly or indirectly affect their interests." There is much talk of "lessons" being learnt about Iraq; but lessons, Synnott urges, once learned, must also be applied – no matter how difficult, awkward or expensive. (Let’s hope the US President elect, whoever he or she may be, is taking notes.)

An eminent former High Commissioner who later assumed what he describes as a "bizarre" role, being both ambassador to the Iraqis and the Americans as well as "quasi-colonial governor of four Iraqi provinces", Sir Hilary Synnott was by all accounts one of our most important and intelligent players in post-2003 Iraq. Until now, he has kept a low profile; as we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion and must contemplate anew the extent and intractability of that "failure", it is a timely moment indeed for his clear-eyed, powerful, and humbling account of what were, and indeed still are, turbulent times.

This is a link to a longer review in The Times: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article3465815.ece

Or the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/01/08/do0802.xml

davidbfpo

patmc
08-05-2008, 10:02 AM
Saw on today's Early Bird:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article4461023.ece

The Times August 5, 2008

Secret deal kept British Army out of battle for Basra


A secret deal between Britain and the notorious al-Mahdi militia prevented British Forces from coming to the aid of their US and Iraqi allies for nearly a week during the battle for Basra this year, The Times has learnt.

Four thousand British troops – including elements of the SAS and an entire mechanised brigade – watched from the sidelines for six days because of an “accommodation” with the Iranian-backed group, according to American and Iraqi officers who took part in the assault.

US Marines and soldiers had to be rushed in to fill the void, fighting bitter street battles and facing mortar fire, rockets and roadside bombs with their Iraqi counterparts.

The British apparently made a deal that no troops would enter Basra without the Defense Secretary's approval, thus keeping them out of combat with the militias and Mahdi elements. As the article says, "Cutting a deal with the bad guys is generally not a good idea." They had hoped to accomodate the militias ala the IRA, but it did not pan out as planned. The Iraqis and US elements in Basra have lost respect and trust in the British allies, since they are not willing to act when necessary.

William F. Owen
08-05-2008, 10:37 AM
So let me get this right. The UK set up a secret deal with the enemy, to prevent British casualties and then did not tell the Iraqi's or the US? ... and when our allies were under fire, they did not respond in order to support our agreement... with the enemy.

If so, the British actively colluded with terrorists, then someone needs to go to jail, or invoke "Crown Agent immunity."

Steve Blair
08-05-2008, 08:08 PM
Here's BBC's take on it: link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7543187.stm).

davidbfpo
08-05-2008, 08:39 PM
If true a scandal and weakened IMO by the off-record media exposure.

Politically the UK government would not return troops to street fighting in Basra, after all we wanted out from that hellhole; yes, one we helped make it that.

How the UK government managed to hide the alleged agreement and related decisions from our closest ally is unclear.

Murky. How this story resonates here is unclear, maybe I will comment another day.

Here is the comment in The Daily Telegraph, with HMG and Opposition comments: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/2506222/Des-Browne-in-political-row-over-secret-deal-in-Basra.html

davidbfpo

Ken White
08-05-2008, 08:47 PM
six months ago in the media. I didn't think much about it at the time because that's been a British (and others, including us [rarely] and the French and Germans [frequently].) technique for many score years -- and allegedly MI6 / SIS or whoever they are today had just done the same thing not long before in Helmand, Afghanistan.

My recollection in the latter case is that Dan McNeill blew the whistle on the deal...

Norfolk
08-05-2008, 08:54 PM
If true, a perfect example of field commanders findings themselves having to look over their shoulder because their Government has no real will to win the war, just to appear to fall into line with U.S. policy.

SWJED
08-05-2008, 09:55 PM
I started a SWJ Blog roundup post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/08/the-red-coats-are-not-coming/) and will keep it updated as more of this story unfolds.

Patmc - I stole your title - thanks and a hat tip.

Ken White
08-05-2008, 10:02 PM
If true, a perfect example of field commanders findings themselves having to look over their shoulder because their Government has no real will to win the war, just to appear to fall into line with U.S. policy.That seems to also frequently apply to US Commanders... :wry:

Why, one could almost suspect there was no US policy... :eek:

carl
08-05-2008, 10:06 PM
The effect of British policy on Iraqi public opinion should be considered too. If the following quote from a TimesOnLine story is in any way typical of that opinion, the policy has been a disaster.

'He had less of a glowing impression of the British military, which had control of security in Basra from March 2003 until December 2007, a period that saw the al-Mehdi Army militia grow in strength and influence.

"British forces did not make an impression on the people of Basra. They let the militia control the city and stayed away from events."

Ms Ali was also unimpressed, describing the British troops as lodgers.

"As we know, people who rent stay away from trouble even if it is harming the house he has rented," she said.

"In my personal opinion, although I have no expertise, the US forces always want to appear strong and able to succeed in any battle. They will never allow militias to ruin the reputation of the US army."'

Norfolk
08-05-2008, 10:20 PM
That seems to also frequently apply to US Commanders...

Why, one could almost suspect there was no US policy...

Policy, Ken? Somethin' that politicians create and soldiers try not to look at for fear of what they may see?:eek: That is, when policy is not "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"?

carl wrote:


Ms Ali was also unimpressed, describing the British troops as lodgers.

Shades of the Quartering Act!:rolleyes: - Oh wait, at least the Brits paid for that priviledge in Basra. Seems to have had almost the same result though - I still doubt the Redcoats would be overly welcome in Boston, and it's been more than 200 years...:wry:

carl
08-05-2008, 10:49 PM
"I still doubt the Redcoats would be overly welcome in Boston, and it's been more than 200 years...:wry:"

Oh, I don't know. As long as they didn't wear a uniform on St. Patrick's Day I think they would ok. In any event, New York is just down the road and Royal Navy sailors thought that was a great liberty port in WWII.

William F. Owen
08-06-2008, 06:51 AM
British commanders were accused of turning a blind eye to lawlessness in the city as they forged an IRA-style reconciliation pact with the Madhi army, which controlled swathes of Basra with gangster-like ruthlessness.

I can't believe any element of the UK power structure would be this stupid! The IRA "cease fire" was crafted under some very specific ROE and communication channels, including entities known for over 20 years, who spoke English!!

Plus the British Army retained complete freedom of action to ensure local security and HM Governance - not what happened in Basra, which was basically surrender, if the press stories are accurate!

...and I am just dreading having to sit down with the "local" military thinkers and theorists next week. I got enough flak over the Royal Navy hostages.

Rex Brynen
08-06-2008, 01:39 PM
...and I am just dreading having to sit down with the "local" military thinkers and theorists next week. I got enough flak over the Royal Navy hostages.

Those wouldn't be the local military thinkers and theorists who just exchanged prisoners for two bodies--thereby handing Hizbullah a massive PR victory--would it? :D

William F. Owen
08-06-2008, 05:26 PM
Those wouldn't be the local military thinkers and theorists who just exchanged prisoners for two bodies--thereby handing Hizbullah a massive PR victory--would it? :D

Certainly not. Those were politicians, diplomats, and political science folks.

Moreover, as I believe that military force should be subservient to the higher moral and thus religious doctrines, I would hold that this descision falls outside military thought, and theory.

The return of the bodies has massive religious and cultural significance in the Jewish faith, and also in the existence of Israel. Personally, I think the price was far too high, (EG: the return Samir Kuntar) but I am in no position to criticise the families or those whose faith demands this.

Fuchs
08-06-2008, 06:03 PM
Saw on today's Early Bird:
The British apparently made a deal that no troops would enter Basra without the Defense Secretary's approval, thus keeping them out of combat with the militias and Mahdi elements.

I fail to see the scandal.
Iraq is supposed to be a quite sovereign nation, what's wrong not to execute any military operations on its soil if its defense secretary doesn't agree?

I mean - if THAT kept the British out of Basra, then it's the Iraqi cabinet's (SecDef) fault.

If in turn the Iraqi government equaled the enemy - what would be the point of clearing Basra instead of simply leaving?

Cavguy
08-06-2008, 08:20 PM
I fail to see the scandal.
Iraq is supposed to be a quite sovereign nation, what's wrong not to execute any military operations on its soil if its defense secretary doesn't agree?

I mean - if THAT kept the British out of Basra, then it's the Iraqi cabinet's (SecDef) fault.

If in turn the Iraqi government equaled the enemy - what would be the point of clearing Basra instead of simply leaving?

I think it was the UK Defence Secretary, not the Iraqi. According to the article, Maliki wanted the British to execute the operation, and he's the PM.

Ron Humphrey
08-06-2008, 09:10 PM
Certainly not. Those were politicians, diplomats, and political science folks.

Moreover, as I believe that military force should be subservient to the higher moral and thus religious doctrines, I would hold that this descision falls outside military thought, and theory.

The return of the bodies has massive religious and cultural significance in the Jewish faith, and also in the existence of Israel. Personally, I think the price was far too high, (EG: the return Samir Kuntar) but I am in no position to criticise the families or those whose faith demands this.

If you've been paying attention lately that guys been like a walking PR/PA/IO campaign all unto himself. Sure looks like he was paying attention in Media 101.

davidbfpo
12-15-2008, 10:45 PM
With limited press coverage and no mention on the TV news it appears that the British brigade based outside Basra is being forced to exit due to an Iraqi decision: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/

Linked to this is a report by a UK reporter on a visit to Basra: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/3725468/Iraq-after-Basra-a-new-reality.html

There was a Channel 4 documentary last week, on Basra, which I only partly caught; which cited Colin Powell's ex-chief of staff that Iran was the dominant local power there now. I wonder how the conservative Shia factions react to the reported lax social scene?

Mark O'Neill
12-21-2008, 10:34 AM
with the Brits actually in Basra (ie , not on the COB) during COTK I am not that sure that the simplistic comments we are hearing about Brit success or failure hold much water when it comes to insight. I cannot offer any substantial critical comment about the Brit performance I observed (well, ok ... Their view of comfort in the field is disconcertingly more similar to the Australian than the US one (which we had gotten used to) and their rations make MRE look good). The whole Basra story is highly complex one, at a number of levels and does not lend itself to simplistic reductionism. There is no 'black or white' but certainly a whole lot of grey. For what it is worth, the officers and men of the 1st Scots, RDG and Lancs that my oppo and I worked with were first rate and, as he and I discussed in our post op hotwash, the equal of any US or Aus troops that we have served with, in any theatre.

And, although he will hate me for saying this so I will not name him, the man (Brit 06) who was the senior mentor to the Iraqi Basra Operational Commander at the time has, in my opinion, one of the best military COIN brains running around in uniform today.

I will offer this observation: Portillo was a leading light of the Tories, so , naturally, he will not have anything positive to say about the Blair / Gordon Labour Party Iraqi adventure.

Cheers

Mark

davidbfpo
03-12-2009, 09:06 PM
Taken from a lecture at RUSI, Whitehall "think tank" comments on the UK Army in Basra: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/4963855/Paucity-of-equipment-hampers-training-says-decorated-officer.html

davidbfpo

davidbfpo
04-08-2009, 09:07 PM
Today at RUSI, London (a UK "think tank") hosted a presentation: "Probably The Worst Palace In The World...." RIFLES Battle Group Operations in Basra, Summer 2007 - Defence, Delay, Raiding and Withdrawal in a Contemporary Urban Environment.

This link has the speech and powerpoint slides: http://www.rusi.org/events/ref:E48C938B46A1E3/

Some interesting points and he says the battle group's only indispensable member was the padre.

There are numerous threads on the UK's role in Basra, but best as a stand alone.

davidbfpo

Kiwigrunt
04-08-2009, 11:25 PM
Thanks for the link; very good speech indeed.

SPWilson
04-09-2009, 11:58 PM
I deployed with the National Police QRF Bn in Mar 2008 and lived at Basra Palace from Mar-Nov 2008. Very interesting place. Also heard numerous comments from British and Iraqi sources about the "accomodation" the UK made with the militias in 2007.

Seeing the slideshow brought back some memories.

SPWilson
04-10-2009, 12:34 AM
with the Brits actually in Basra (ie , not on the COB) during COTK I am not that sure that the simplistic comments we are hearing about Brit success or failure hold much water when it comes to insight. I cannot offer any substantial critical comment about the Brit performance I observed (well, ok ... Their view of comfort in the field is disconcertingly more similar to the Australian than the US one (which we had gotten used to) and their rations make MRE look good). The whole Basra story is highly complex one, at a number of levels and does not lend itself to simplistic reductionism. There is no 'black or white' but certainly a whole lot of grey. For what it is worth, the officers and men of the 1st Scots, RDG and Lancs that my oppo and I worked with were first rate and, as he and I discussed in our post op hotwash, the equal of any US or Aus troops that we have served with, in any theatre.

And, although he will hate me for saying this so I will not name him, the man (Brit 06) who was the senior mentor to the Iraqi Basra Operational Commander at the time has, in my opinion, one of the best military COIN brains running around in uniform today.

I will offer this observation: Portillo was a leading light of the Tories, so , naturally, he will not have anything positive to say about the Blair / Gordon Labour Party Iraqi adventure.

Cheers

Mark

Mark,
I can agree with some of your points. I spent the majority of my last tour (Nov 2007-2008) in Basra (at the palace) with my 500 man INP battalion.

1. As the initial "attack" into Basra commenced, the British pretty much confined operations to the COB and the BaOC. I recall as I rolled into Basra passing a UK mech co sitting by the COB waiting for something. It was only later (mid April) that I saw any substantial UK forces in Basra- ground forces at the BaOC, UK MiTTs, etc.

2. UK support during my time was excellent logistically (except coordinating air resupply). Operational and intel cooperation was almost non-existant. First, was that our systems did not talk. I did not have SIPR, NIPR, just FM, BFT, and good old cell phones. Even when I could talk (through UK LNO at the palace, I usually did not get any response). Even at the COB, soem sections were definitely better than others. To me there seemed to be a lack in Unity of Effort/ Command.

3. To a one, every Iraqi officer I spoke with in Basra, to include the 14IA CDR did not have a very favorable opinion of the British they worked with. Most were very excited to when the U.S. was announced to take the lead in MND-SE.

4. I think the UK had some good guys in Basra, but they were suppressed or prevented from execution due to political necessities (keep casualties low, survive, go home). It really explains a lot of practices they have there that run contrary to common-sense.


P.S.
The Brits definitely had better reading material than the U.S. bases offer ;)

SPWilson
04-17-2009, 12:30 AM
Thats why when I rolled into Basra with 4 M1151s I saw the Challengers and Warriors sitting outside the COB doing nothing.

Awesome :rolleyes:

AndrewMcJames
04-17-2009, 09:44 AM
It is "common knowledge" (in a country of conspiracy theories, take from it what you will) that the British regularly give money to the Taliban in Helmand. What the truth is, who knows, but it has an affect on how people view NATO. One of our interpreters quit working for the British (even though they pay much more than we do) due to the fact that he claims to have seen these sorts of things "go down". In a fight like this, perception is everything.

William F. Owen
04-17-2009, 02:05 PM
It is "common knowledge" (in a country of conspiracy theories, take from it what you will) that the British regularly give money to the Taliban in Helmand. What the truth is, who knows, but it has an affect on how people view NATO. One of our interpreters quit working for the British (even though they pay much more than we do) due to the fact that he claims to have seen these sorts of things "go down". In a fight like this, perception is everything.

Interesting allegation. For what purpose is such money given? UK casualties continue to rise, and more forces look like being placed in theatre, not less.

If the Brits are paying it is doing them no good, and at the tactical level, it's doing the Taliban even less good.

AndrewMcJames
04-17-2009, 03:28 PM
I am not really sure exactly what they are talking about. If the Taliban "ease off" on the Brits, and thereby allow things like training security forces and infrastructure development to progress unhindered, then yes, in the long run its a bad deal for them. It is also a bit spotty for a NATO country with a legitimate army to want or have to resort to such things.

I think, however, that there is a decent chance that what people witness are misguided attempts at propping up local Afghans, i.e. the Musa Qala (Sp?) incident and what have you.

I did some work with a company of guardsmen and some other British soldiers, and I found them to be top notch. Aggressive, knowledgeable NCOs and well educated officers. Who knows what goes on at the higher levels.

Spartan6
04-23-2009, 03:26 PM
That might be true...like the US gives money and GUNS to the Sons of Iraq aka former Sunni insurgents. It may be part of the COIN model to get them to stop planting IEDs, etc. aka Reintegration.

davidbfpo
04-24-2009, 11:53 AM
I don't know from this armchair whether the UK is paying the Taliban in Helmand, clearly one hopes that some money is paid to informants and waverers. More likely is the payment to faction leaders, as was rumoured over the local, defecting Taliban chief at Musa Qala, who ended up arriving with four relatives and needed protection himself (cannot recall immediately his name).

Historically in the Imperial age payments were made along the NWFP for good behaviour and failing to comply led to punitive action.

Perhaps the rumours need to be seen in the context of the following story, that the UK cannot afford to send more, pernament troops to Afghanistan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/5208925/Britain-cannot-afford-to-send-more-troops-to-Afghanistan-because-of-the-recession.html

davidbfpo

Ken Wilson
05-03-2009, 05:39 PM
Read this:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/07/british-army-afghanistan-talibal

It isn’t just about objectively appraising small wars and competing approaches. Its about the sensitivities of the Anglo-American relationship, Greece educating Rome, etc. Hence the mythologised story of British COIN, propagated by both the likes of Aylwin-Foster and American Anglophiles.

The other problem is that we get fixated on COIN technique and not wider strategy. ISAF and OEF as a whole could be deployed to the Afghan provinces and perform wonders, but that won’t address one underlying source of the Taliban’s continued resurgence: politics in Pakistan. Can’t really blame the UK or any army for that.

William F. Owen
05-04-2009, 05:32 AM
Hence the mythologised story of British COIN, propagated by both the likes of Aylwin-Foster and American Anglophiles.


It's not mythology. It's historical fact and an operational reality. The problem occurred when - mostly Americans- began to extrapolate items which just weren't there, and didn't take the context into account. Most the "propagating" was done by serving US Officers, much to annoyance of us Brits!

...you then get the irony of mostly the same men leaving most of the good British COIN writing off the recommended reading lists, and opting for the French instead.

Red Rat
05-28-2010, 01:43 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/defence-chiefs-gag-iraq-report (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/27/defence-chiefs-gag-iraq-report)

The Iraq Inquiry is going to make interesting reading when it comes out. I believe General Brown is now retired and is due to give evidence again at the Iraq Inquiry which could prove enlightening.

As ever there is the issue of what the British did in Iraq and why, but also how they are going to learn from it. I had a commanding officer who maintained a 3 strikes rule:

F*** up once - fine, everyone makes mistakes, it's how we learn :)
F*** up twice (same mistake) - first warning; you should have learned last time. :o
F*** up again and you're fired! :eek:

Problem is that on an organisational level if you are not willing to admit and confront mistakes, to discuss them openly, then you are never going to learn. :rolleyes:

JMA
05-28-2010, 01:49 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/defence-chiefs-gag-iraq-report (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/27/defence-chiefs-gag-iraq-report)

The Iraq Inquiry is going to make interesting reading when it comes out. I believe General Brown is now retired and is due to give evidence again at the Iraq Inquiry which could prove enlightening.

As ever there is the issue of what the British did in Iraq and why, but also how they are going to learn from it. I had a commanding officer who maintained a 3 strikes rule:

F*** up once - fine, everyone makes mistakes, it's how we learn :)
F*** up twice (same mistake) - first warning; you should have learned last time. :o
F*** up again and you're fired! :eek:

Problem is that on an organisational level if you are not willing to admit and confront mistakes, to discuss them openly, then you are never going to learn. :rolleyes:

Sadly warfare is an unforgiving environment. In many (if not most) cases where lives are lost there can be no second chance.

William F. Owen
05-28-2010, 02:04 PM
For myself I really only have one pressing question.
Ulster has about 1.2 million in the 1970's people and at the height the emergency there were 27,000+ troops and 70+ plus helicopters.

Basra is a city of 3.5 million people. IIRC at most we had 4 BGs from Op Telic II onwards. How was 1 Brigade(+) ever going to be enough?

Here the MOD Stats:
Peak during Major Combat Operations (March/April 2003): 46,000 (including those stationed outside of Iraq in support of the operation)
At the end of May 2003: 18,000
At the end of May 2004: 8,600
At the end of May 2005: 8,500
At the end of May 2006: 7,200
At the end of May 2007: 5,500
At the end of May 2008: 4,100 (in southern Iraq)
At the end of May 2009: 4,100 (in southern Iraq)
At the end of Jan 2010: 150

Red Rat
05-28-2010, 02:48 PM
For myself I really only have one pressing question.

Ulster has about 1.2 million in the 1970's people and at the height the emergency there were 27,000+ troops and 70+ plus helicopters.

Basra is a city of 3.5 million people. IIRC at most we had 4 BGs from Op Telic II onwards. How was 1 Brigade(+) ever going to be enough?

It wasn't. General Shirreff makes that clear.


Basra itself seemed to me to be the key issue... What I found when I arrived was effectively no security at all... There was a significant lack of troops on the ground.

I think that when I went out on my recce in May 2006, the single battalion commander responsible for a city of 1.3 million people told me that he could put no more then 13 half platoons or multiples on the ground, less then 200 soldiers on the ground, in a city of 1.3 million. You compare that with what I recall as a young platoon commander in West Belfast in the late 1970s when there was a brigade on the ground.


http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/General Shirreff.pdf (http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/44178/20100111am-shirreff-final.pdf)

RR

William F. Owen
05-29-2010, 07:23 AM
It wasn't. General Shirreff makes that clear.


Agreed. I head blokes saying this in 2004/5. Thus my question still stands. We all know we got it wrong. Why has never been explained.

Chris jM
05-29-2010, 08:06 AM
Thus my question still stands. We all know we got it wrong. Why has never been explained.

Does the common perception of neo-con strategy explain the lack of boots-on-ground? As in, does:

a) the preponderance of technology and air-power, network-ified forces and the understanding of manoeuvrist doctrine amongst the military was such that they were so 'force multiplied' that they didn't need to obey conventional principles such as mass and concentration, and

b) the inevitable march of democracy ensuring a liberated Iraqi population would embrace the concept of a post-Saddam elected government,

explain the why?

I've heard this touted as the key reasons behind American mis-calculations and I wonder if this extended to the British High Command as well.

Or c), was this a hypothetical question casting a wry and cynical view upon the ability of the modern military to apply history and common sense to the contemporary environment, which I have subsequently proceeded to completely misconstrue? :D

davidbfpo
05-29-2010, 10:17 PM
Why did the UK fail in southern Iraq, an area dominated by the city of Basra?

I shall leave alone the in country military strategy and tactics followed.

What puzzled me and I suspect others was why the UK stayed in Iraq after Tony Blair handed the Prime Minister's job to Gordon Brown in June 2007 (after winning an election in 2005), who we are told was never enthusiastic IIRC on the intervention. The war was unpopular across the UK, notably, but not exclusively in the traditional areas of Labour Party electoral support. Politically IMHO it would have made political sense - electorally - for Gordon Brown to exit quickly and this was - allegedly - discussed.

The UK in Southern Iraq sat astride the MSR from Kuwait and such announced exit would have alarmed the USA, being polite. The 'surge' was announced in January 2007 and major operations started in June 2007. Not a time for redeploying US forces to replace the UK.

The UK government decided it was necessary to stay, but without a commitment to allocate a level of resources to do more than the minimum and secure the MSR. The price of the 'special relationship' I suggest?

Note in June 2006 the UK decided to deploy for the first time to Helmand Province, which became unpopular at home too.

Red Rat
06-01-2010, 09:07 AM
Agreed. I head blokes saying this in 2004/5. Thus my question still stands. We all know we got it wrong. Why has never been explained.

The British Operation in Basra was clearly an economy of force operation and was understood as such by all (although never explicitly stated). From a Coalition perspective I think that as long as the MSRs were secured it was recognised that Basra issues could be dealt with after the more pressing issues of baghdad and the Sunni Triangle.

In terms of domestic political context, no UK Government would have been able to increase troop numbers to the numbers necessary to secure Basra. The over-riding driver in UK government thinking since about 2005 appears to have been short term (domestic) political expediency, I have not seen a great deal of evidence of long term strategic planning, nor of a willingness to engage with detailed analysis of issues, especially of possible consequences (if this, then this).

I also suspect that Afghanistan was ramped up (in terms of British military contribution) to allow the UK to adopt a time based draw down policy in Iraq without embarrassing the UK or the US (the UK could state that it did not have the troops to do both Iraq and Afghanistan and so was focusing on Afghanistan - and in doing so was continuing to help the US which was focused in Iraq and did not want to increase numbers in Afghanistan).

It will be fascinating when the Iraq Inquiry publishes to see what the strategic thinking was and what the strategic decision making process was.

William F. Owen
06-01-2010, 09:39 AM
The British Operation in Basra was clearly an economy of force operation and was understood as such by all (although never explicitly stated). From a Coalition perspective I think that as long as the MSRs were secured it was recognised that Basra issues could be dealt with after the more pressing issues of baghdad and the Sunni Triangle.

So why have forces inside Basra?

The issue of strategy is even more opaque. Clearly there was no strategy. I want to know what the policy was!

Red Rat
06-01-2010, 10:12 AM
So why have forces inside Basra?

Because until PIC(Provincial Iraqi Control) had happened the UK still had to appear to be in charge. The conundrum then comes about what happens when the presence of your forces highlights that you are not in charge :eek:



The issue of strategy is even more opaque. Clearly there was no strategy. I want to know what the policy was! Sadly I think you are right on the strategy. In terms of policy I think the policy was twofold:

1) Not to rock the coalition boat
2) Satisfy domestic political pressures (which meant for the most part being seen not to take casualties and to be getting out).

davidbfpo
09-29-2010, 09:45 PM
A BBC TV documentary tonight, which I missed and is now (1st Oct). Yes it may not be available in some places:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v3qt5

Short news story:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11419878

Just checked the programme website and not yet ready to view.

A "taster" or attention grabbing, you decide:
The British army suffered defeat in Iraq when it pulled out of Basra, a senior American general has argued.
UK forces left the city in 2007, leaving the people to be "terrorised", key White House adviser Gen Jack Keane told the BBC.

SJPONeill
09-29-2010, 10:01 PM
Not withstanding the info above, I think it may have been quite simple.

After the end of the official warfighting phase of OIF and then the start of the insurgency, the British sincerely believed that they were on top of the COIN campaign due to their decades of experience in Northern Ireland and previous success in Malaya and Kenya. What they didn't pick up on and which took some years for the penny to drop is that COIN truisms don't translate easily between environment and that the UK approach of treating the Iraqi insurgency as they would one in a Commonwealth or Western-oriented nation was doomed from the start.

To make matters worse, a number of Brits, mainly at quite senior levels, felt that they had some form of almost God-given superiority over the US (small nation syndrome) and this attitude was probably a major factor in the long period it took the UK to realise they had gotten it wrong and adapting accordingly - had the attitude being more of learning from others had been, perhaps the case for more troops earlier could have successfully been made?

Nowhere have I heard it summed up better than senior UK officer last year "...really..instead of sniping at the Americans from the sidelines of our own superiority, we should have been following them around with our notebooks open, furiously taking notes..."

Red Rat
09-30-2010, 12:37 PM
There was certainly an embarrassing degree of hubris mixed with schadenfreude in the early days. :o

Both the US and the UK got it wrong in Iraq to begin with. The US learned, adapted and persevered. It took longer for the chickens to come home to roost in the Brit AO, but we certainly failed to learn and adapt as quickly or as effectively as the US. We also singularly failed to resource effectively.



To make matters worse, a number of Brits, mainly at quite senior levels, felt that they had some form of almost God-given superiority over the US (small nation syndrome) and this attitude was probably a major factor in the long period it took the UK to realise they had gotten it wrong and adapting accordingly - had the attitude being more of learning from others had been, perhaps the case for more troops earlier could have successfully been made?


Hmmm. All the Post Operational Interviews I have read of Brit senior officers (2 stars and above) are highly complimentary of US efforts from 2005 onwards. I am not as well versed in views prior to 2005, but I am aware that it was always recognised that the US forces were involved in a very different war in the north.

One reason it took the UK longer to adapt is that violence levels never really picked up in the south until the end of 2005 and into 2006. That made it appear that the Brit approach was working - as well reinforcing our smug assumptions of superiority ;)

It is true that the British Army thought that it had COIN in its DNA, whereas while senior officers were well educated and experienced in COIN junior officers (up to Lt Col) were less so. Northern Ireland (as a campaign) had settled down by the mid 1980s and we stopped formally teaching COIN in the late 90s. So while many officers and commanders had Northern Ireland experience they had actually learnt very little from their time there beyond low level TTPs. The history of the campaign and the hard learnt lessons therin were not widely known. We took most of the processes, especially with regards to ISTAR, targeting and the use of SF for granted. We had excellent COIN doctrine which was certainly fit for purpose, but we never taught it, read it or applied it...:o

The case for more troops is an interesting one. I do not think we would have been able to make a case for more troops until the violence levels rose. By then it was clear that UK domestic politics would prevent any significant rise in troop levels. Strategic direction was clear, 'get out'. Afghanistan provided the excuse.

davidbfpo
11-05-2011, 04:45 PM
A long article today, based on a new book and sub-titled:
Capt Richard Holmes's bridge-building approach helped set the template for a new military strategy in Iraq. But he was betrayed by the very people whose trust he worked so hard to win.

Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/8867236/The-price-of-peace-the-Army-officer-betrayed-by-the-Iraqis-he-tried-to-help.html

The book is 'A War of Choice: The British in Iraq 2003-9’ by Jack Fairweather and published by Jonathan Cape, £20.

Link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Choice-British-Iraq-2003-9/dp/0224089587

davidbfpo
10-19-2016, 12:51 PM
Ret'd Brigadier Ben Barry, now @ IISS, has finally been able to publish his report; which was classified by the MoD and cited in the Chilcot Report. Less than 1% was still redacted. Just why it was not published before now eludes me, alas it is typically British.;)


The aim was to analyse the land tactical lessons from the Iraq campaign from 2005–2009. In the event, the report's analysis had to go back to the immediate aftermath of the 2003 invasion, as the actions of the US-led coalition between then and 2005 set the conditions for subsequent events.
It was based on a year's work, which included analysis of all Army post-operation reports, hundreds of interviews and a two-day conference of a hundred senior officers. Its draft was reviewed by a reference group comprised of a dozen serving and retired British general officers with Iraq experience.There is an 18 pg Executive Summary and three PDFs for the other 240 pgs on this link:http://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voices/blogsections/iiss-voices-2016-9143/october-d6b6/the-bitter-war-to-stabilise-southern-iraq---british-army-report-declassified-953d

There is a hour long podcast too:https://www.iiss.org/en/events/events/archive/2016-a3c2/october-1347/beyond-the-iraq-inquiry-dd6c

You will hear stress that the US military learnt quicker, often helped from "bottom up" and the part of blogs too.

He noted that neither the RAF or RN & Royal Marines had conducted a similar exercise.

Finally he commended this book 'Operation Telic: The British Campaign in Iraq 2003-2009' by Tim Ripley, a journalist, published in November 2014:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Operation-Telic-British-Campaign-2003-2009/dp/0992945801/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476881170&sr=1-1&keywords=operation+telic+tim+ripley

Or for US$20:https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Telic-British-Campaign-2003-2009/dp/0992945801/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

JWing
10-22-2016, 06:09 PM
Thanks for the links. Now if I can only find the time to read all this!

davidbfpo
04-14-2019, 01:51 PM
With the catalyst of the next post I have reopened this thread.

davidbfpo
04-14-2019, 01:59 PM
Patrick Porter is an Australian-born academic who has taught in the UK for many years, but retains the directness we often associate with being an Australian. He summarises his book here:https://www.historytoday.com/archive/behind-times/not-blair%E2%80%99s-war-britain%E2%80%99s

I have his book awaiting attention, so one day will add my own comments here in the books read thread.:wry:

Via MWI a US author's review; it starts with:
One doesn’t read Patrick Porter’s new book, so much as contend with it. At 232 pages, Blunder: Britain’s War in Iraq (https://www.amazon.com/Blunder-Britains-Iraq-Patrick-Porter/dp/0198807961) is a surprisingly short text yet a remarkably layered one. Equal parts engaging and grinding, Porter navigates the path to war in London during 2002 and early 2003 with the rigor of a forensic coroner reconstructing a murder. Rather than a cadaver, though, his subject is the intellectual underpinnings that played a role in pre-war debates on both sides of the Atlantic and were essential to the case for invasion presented to the British public by the government of Tony Blair. Blunder doesn’t trade in platitudes or indulge in conspiratorial fantasies but rather lays bare the very real and—in the abstract—noble ideas that fed into the most consequential and destructive war of this century.
Link:https://mwi.usma.edu/britains-blunder-united-kingdom-marched-war-iraq/


(https://mwi.usma.edu/britains-blunder-united-kingdom-marched-war-iraq/)

JWing
04-16-2019, 03:24 PM
Book review (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2019/04/review-report-of-iraq-inquiry-executive.html) of the executive summary of the Chilcot Report

davidbfpo
04-16-2019, 09:19 PM
Cheers Joel for the book review. I do note 'England' is used throughout the review, when it was the UK and that is only used at the end. All parts of the UK were lied to and the majority agreed with the policy decisions - that is my recollection from public opinion polling.

There are still aspects of the British involvement in Iraq that remain unexplained. It was mooted when Tony Blair was replaced by Gordon Brown (in June 2007), who had been his No.2 at HM Treasury, that the UK should exit Iraq. This was to avoid the electoral impact of an unpopular war in Labour's traditional areas of support where there was either a majority or large minority of Muslim voters - which was confined to the bigger cities. In 2010 Labour was defeated in a General Election, losing ninety-one seats.