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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default The British In Iraq (merged thread)

    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 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.

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    Default Blair to Announce Iraq Withdrawal Plan

    20 February AP - Blair to Announce Iraq Withdrawal Plan.

    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.

    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...

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    Default Iraqis Take Basra Command as U.K. Plans Troop Cuts

    20 February Reuters - Iraqis Take Basra Command as U.K. Plans Troop Cuts.

    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...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Gordon Brown to pull troops out of Iraq

    Reports a Scottish paper 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.

    Related: Ghaith Abdul Ahad in the Guardian "Welcome to Tehran" - How Iran took control of Basra. 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.

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    UK House of Commons Defence Committee, 3 Dec 07: UK Land Operations in Iraq
    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.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From Ulster to Iraq: a lesson moves

    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/co...dex=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

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    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...

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Brits in Basra: new book

    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....cle3465815.ece

    Or the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../08/do0802.xml

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-16-2008 at 07:58 PM. Reason: Additional materiel

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    Default The Red Coats are not Coming

    Saw on today's Early Bird:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle4461023.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.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Utterly shameful if true

    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."
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Here's BBC's take on it: link.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Redcoats stand firm

    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/news...-in-Basra.html

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-05-2008 at 08:49 PM. Reason: Add newspaper link.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I have a vague recollection that this surfaced about

    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...

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    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.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK troops to leave Iraq?

    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/worl...w-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?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-15-2008 at 10:51 PM.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default As someone who spent time in Basra

    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
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 12-21-2008 at 10:40 AM. Reason: typos

  18. #18
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Lesson(s) from Basra fighting

    Taken from a lecture at RUSI, Whitehall "think tank" comments on the UK Army in Basra: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...d-officer.html

    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    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

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK in Basra: lessons learnt

    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
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-09-2009 at 08:28 AM.

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