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Friday, May 28, 2004

AT LAST MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ Well, it seems that all those Weekly Standard editorials have paid off. Shame only they've paid off in the wrong place:

Return of Black Watch could herald major increase in Britain's military role
Ok, perhaps the word wrong here is, erm, wrong. An increase in British troops is also good and necessary and a possible expansion of the British zone of control as the Scotsman's analysis suggests is of course just what I wrote only a short while ago:

. . . another mistake in the handling of the post-invasion campaign. It would have been better that instead of cutting the Shia part of Iraq into different blocks of responsibility that entire part of the country had been placed under overall British command with supporting forces from other coalition members as there are now, though some of them have started running away (thanks for nothing). This way UK commanders would have been able to control all of the populace that matters to our forces' security. That way it there would have been greater coherence of policy and thus a greater chance of success. Now we are in a situation in which our troops effectively have to hope that their US colleagues manage to deal effectively with the problems, without Britain seeming to have any real influence over the tactics.
So in general this is a good move. However how Blair is going to sell a policy of almost doubling the British presence to the public is a task I am not envious of, to understate it wildly. However successful and necessary this is, I think we shouldn't forget that we are asking a lot from our military's basic assets, as the Scotsman article concludes:

One senior British officer said: "The cupboard is empty - all the other armoured infantry battalions are already committed abroad on operations, undergoing training or have just returned from Iraq and are not considered fit for action."
Another piece of evidence that underlines the need for a restructuring of our armed forces in favour of having a bigger infantry component, as Max Hastings amongst others has argued. Of course this is a problem also all too familiar to the US armed forces as well as this piece by Frederick Kagan makes clear. Ultimately, leaving all questions of political utility aside, this is the reason why we won't be seeing any repeat of OIF anytime in the near future.

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