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Thread: The British In Iraq (merged thread)

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ...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?

  2. #22
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    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?
    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.
    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.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  3. #23
    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?

  4. #24
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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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  5. #25
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Unhappy Speaking of Kuntar

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    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.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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  6. #26
    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.

  7. #27
    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

  8. #28
    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

  9. #29
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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.

  10. #30
    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link; very good speech indeed.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

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  11. #31
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    Default Basra 2008

    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.

  12. #32
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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

  13. #33
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    Default Explains a lot

    Thats why when I rolled into Basra with 4 M1151s I saw the Challengers and Warriors sitting outside the COB doing nothing.

    Awesome

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    Default Afghanistan and the British

    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.

  15. #35
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewMcJames View Post
    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.
    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.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    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.

  17. #37
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    Default Money to taliban?

    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.

  18. #38
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    Default Yes we can pay, no we can't send redcoats

    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/news...recession.html

    davidbfpo

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    Default Get back to mother Earth !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Read this:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008...nistan-talibal

    It isnít 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 wonít address one underlying source of the Talibanís continued resurgence: politics in Pakistan. Canít really blame the UK or any army for that.

  20. #40
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Wilson View Post
    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.
    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.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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