Monday, December 06, 2004

Troops to Stay in Iraq Until Late 2008

Various American talking heads have been speculating recently about the chances of being able to pull the troops out of Iraq after the January 2005 election but the U.S. military and the Bush administration have been notably evasive about their plans. Now the answer to the speculation comes - not from U.S. generals but British ones.

According to The Scotsman newspaper, senior military sources in the British Army have said they have been told that the entire British contingent will be staying for 2 years with around 7,000 soldiers, a brigade-sized force, staying until late 2008. They had hoped to be able to get the majority of troops out by the end of this year, with a complete withdrawal by late 2006.

The planned extension in deployment has been prompted by the continuing Iraqi insurgency and the inability of local security forces to control the country without US and British troops. Training the Iraqis is taking longer than expected and forcing the UK and the US to keep their troops in the country. The coalition soldiers will therefore stay not only for January's election, but for a series of elections in 2005 culminating in full government elections planned for December 2005. Whether their continued presence will provide a provocation to insurgents to disrupt these further election plans remains to be seen.

The demand for troops in Iraq means the MoD may not be able to meet its commitment to provide troops to the NATO garrison in Afghanistan. NATO has asked the UK to increase its force by more than 2,000 to tackle to heroin trade outside the capital, Kabul.One senior army officer said:

"When the requirement to keep troops in Iraq until 2008 filtered back to the army, everybody started wondering how we were going to do this."

Now, the British Army must face the fact that it is overextended already, while the Defence Secretary is pressing ahead with plans to cut four infantry battalions and disband the army’s Scottish regiments.

You can bet your bottom euro (or dollar if you want a cheaper bet) that if the British Army will be in Iraq until 2008, there is no realistic chance of getting U.S. troops out any sooner than that - and it will probably be later. President Bush will preside over a full four year term with an Iraq War in progress, come what may.


Anonymous said...

Some will recall Viet Nam and how the soldiers expressed their dissatisfaction. I wonder if the current lot are sufficiently re-programmed to not do this when it fades into their consciousness that they arn't 'saving' Iraq but invading it for the corporations.

Cernig said...

Hi Michael,

I think a large number of the returning veterans and serving soldiers are catching on. Have a look at the personal views expressed by the soldiers over at Operation Truth sometime to see what I mean. (See my links list.)

Certainly, and I know because a lot of them are from my hometown area, the Brits over there, notably the Black Watch, are very pissed at fighting and dieing to help King George W.

In four more years, I truly feel the veterans opinions will match the anti-establishment fervour of the Vitnam vet movement. Thing is, this time, the home economy will have crashed and a lot of the young people who stayed home will be just as royally pissed.

Regards, C