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Monday, October 17, 2005

So, in Basra, it has now come to this:

"The British Army handed the city to the Islamist groups as a gift," one human rights campaigner said.
"People are even saying bring the Americans here. Some people actually want the Americans instead."

Given that the past two and a half years the British press has almost uniformly been unfavourably comparing our troops’ performance to that of their US colleagues, I wonder how on earth it could have come to this? Perhaps the media couldn’t be bothered to do any research. To be clear, on balance our Army is better, for reasons too extensive to go into here. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean it will always be better, and the way the situation in southern Iraq has come about by British passivity is clear evidence of larger failure. In fairness it’s not so much the troops’ fault as it is the fault of a Government that lacks either the will or the understanding to succeed in Iraq. Which would mean more troops and a more active strategy. So now comes this:

BRITAIN is preparing to send one of the most potent fighting units to . . . . A battle group from 16 Air Assault Brigade, backed by the Army’s new Apache attack helicopter, has been earmarked for deployment

Of course, they’re not heading to Iraq where they are actually needed, because that would make military sense and we can’t have that now can we. No, they’re off to Afghanistan. To fight opium barons. Is that a real priority right now? Hardly. Afghanistan is admittedly in a mess, but this deployment will make no difference to the situation which is one of stable chaos. The only thing necessary in Afghanistan is to uphold the current status quo.
In Iraq on the other hand, developments are fast-paced and very important, and it is thus imperative to have enough forces on the ground to deal with increasingly assertive religious militias. Given that these could well be highly sympathetic towards Iran, it strikes me as pretty silly that a Government that apparently wants to bring Iran "into line", is not only shying away from, but actually withdrawing from confrontation with the Iranian regime’s possible allies. This is clearly shown by the decision, masked by administrative details, to reduce our troop levels in Iraq even more.
Even more risible in political terms is the fact that just a week earlier Reid had claimed that the Afghan effort 'won't affect Iraq'. I bet the Conservatives will really lay into him in Parliament, given such obvious inconsistencies when the Afghan deployment will also require a disproportionate amount of logistical support . . .
No, but seriously, it good to see that our Armed Forces are really at the cutting edge, deployed in highly important booster missions . . .

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