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Sunday, 19 August 2007

British forces useless in Basra, say officials

When America's top commanders in Iraq held a conference with their British counterparts recently, Major General Jonathan Shaw - Britain's senior officer in Basra - was quick to share his views on how best to conduct counter-insurgency operations.

For much of the last four years, the Americans in the room would have listened carefully, used to deferring to their British colleagues' long experience in Northern Ireland. This time, however, eyes that would once have been attentive simply rolled.

British troops face angry scenes in Basra,  British forces useless in Basra, say officials
On the defensive: British troops face angry scenes in Basra

Few were in the mood for a lecture about British superiority, when they fear that Downing Street's planned pull-out from Basra will squander any progress from their own hard-fought "troop surge" strategy elsewhere.

"It's insufferable for Christ's sake," said one senior figure closely involved in US military planning. "He comes on and he lectures everybody in the room about how to do a counter-insurgency. The guys were just rolling their eyeballs. The notorious Northern Ireland came up again. It's pretty frustrating. It would be okay if he was best in class, but now he's worst in class. Everybody else's area is getting better and his is getting worse." More...