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Subject: Was the British Army defeated in Iraq?
DarthAmerica    4/30/2009 5:29:40 PM
Here is an interesting blog from USNI that I thought deserved a look here. I was present for much of the middle and end period of these events. I'll share my thoughts later but just take a look for yourself and tell me what you think... Following the failures of the Boer wars Kipling wrote, “Its a difficult thing to admit it, but as a grown-up nation we should; we’ve had a hell of a beating, it will do us no end of good.” Is there a Kipling in Great Britain today? If so, he or she is probably a journalist or blogger, and likely dismissed as a malcontent. It may or may not be time to ask the question, but I don’t think they are capable politically to have an honest debate across the pond right now, so I’ll use this space to ask the question. I have been reading about the final withdrawal of the British military from Iraq. I am quoting from this BBC article discussing the withdrawal. British military commanders are fiercely proud but defensive too. There are stories of unbelievable courage. They also know, however, there are those in the Washington corridors who say Britain allowed the militias to effectively take over Basra and that the city was only freed by the Iraqi army. They say British forces were overstretched and under-resourced and there was not the political will to support them in the fight against the militias. “I’ve had senior military officers say to me that the Army is broken as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan”, said Lord Ashdown. Others believe that the legacy of Iraq has weakened Britain’s will to use force globally without a clear mandate. “I don’t think we’ll ever do that again,” said Sir Jeremy, “without a clear UN resolution… and a much wider partnership.” Still some of these initial supporters of the war argue that it is too early for a final judgment. History shields its hand. First this is not about effort, this is not about courage, this is not about pride, and this is not about intent. This is about the facts on the ground including the political support from home. My question is: Was the British military defeated in Iraq? The facts on the ground are that Britain allowed the militias to take over Basra, and that the city was freed by the Iraqi army. The BBC article suggests some in Britain are in denial about that. Britain was unable to hold the most important city in their theater of operation, and ultimately required the Iraqi forces supported by the United States to do the job they were unable to do. Political support from Great Britain clearly eroded over time, which means the entire country carries the responsibility of the military defeat. It should be noted that the majority of citizens are OK with being defeated. While this is a damning historical note that reveals the strategic priority (or lack of strategic priority) of the Iraq war, it would be foolish to ignore that in the fine historical tradition of weak political leadership the British government is accepting military defeat and attempting to turn defeat into a cultural victory. In politics this type of behavior can be expected, but how should we judge Generals who ignore defeat and instead simply declare victory and leave? This point is important, and a reminder of Kipling’s observations. The United States was on the verge of defeat in Iraq as well, but instead of accepting a military defeat, Secretary of Defense Gates under the Bush administration reevaluated strategy in an attempt to achieve military victory. This was followed up last month under the Obama administration when Secretary of Defense Gates reassessed requirements for achieving victory with a balanced force necessary to meet a broader spectrum of the nations strategic challenges where military power may be required. Instead of accepting a military defeat and claiming it as a cultural victory, the Obama administration is expanding the size of the military force and has kept military power in Iraq to finish the job. The difference between a country that doesn’t accept a military defeat vs a country that does accept military defeat is the difference between a country with strong political leadership with a conviction towards victory vs a country with weak political leadership absent conviction towards victory. In my opinion, Great Britain as a Great Power is not only in decline, they are gaining speed in that decline becoming subservient to the United States in the spirit of a military puppet state. I believe the answer to the question asked above is yes. The British Army was not only defeated in Iraq by a militia supported by a third world country (Iran), but was broken in Iraq by that foe. The British continue to lose credibility in maintaining control of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, which suggests military defeat is viewed with cultural acceptance among current political leaders. With the Royal Navy at the smallest level in several centuries, it is possible that Great Britain is a technologically advanced paper tiger with a mi
 
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DarthAmerica       4/30/2009 5:34:59 PM
Here is a photo of some Brits that operated in the same general area, one of them, that we did.

http://media3.dropshots.com/photos/424937/20080821/090858.jpg" width="600" height="543" alt="" /> 

Sometimes we would play football(American) with then and drive each others gun trucks around before heading out! I also got to watch the Super Bowl with a British Soldier. Kinda funny explaining the rules to him but he was genuinely interested and a good man. No matter what decisions the Politicians and Generals made, I have nothing but respect for these guys.


-DA 
 
 
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Padfoot       5/1/2009 2:28:51 AM
What does that say for the rest of the western alliance? Because the UK>>>>>all the other allies
 
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Duubz       5/1/2009 4:48:59 AM
The British Army certainly does not have the resources to fight two small but long term wars anymore. The question is, are the British Generals going to claim that the mission was a success because their strategy was to train the Iraqi army and police to take a control of the city themselves? This is exactly what they did so I feel the British Army have every right to say it was a success in that aspect.
 
The underlying problem is that this is the only tactic that could have worked for them as they simply do not have the resources to defeat the militias themselves. The militias certainly should never have been allowed to obtain as much power as they did - and if Basra had seen the levels of violence of some of the more northen cities such as Bahgdad it could have been a completely different story when the Iraqi army went on the offensive against the militias.
 
 
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prometheus       5/1/2009 5:41:54 AM
I'm sure I've seen gahlran's postings on other blogs - he seems to have a bit of a 'thing' about the british.
 
The political mandate was unclear in basra, that very fact makes it unclear as to wehter the British mission is a sucess or failure. Certainly there was never any chance of britain being able to smother the insurgents in a massive surge like the US did.
 
If the British army is judged on the UN mandate then they can call the mission a success, They held the ring until the Iraqis got their act together. What Gahlran calls the embarresment of the Iraqis going into Basra in the charge of the knights operation is justifiably a British success, they trained the Iraqi troops to the point where they could take over and enforce their will while keeping violence down as far as was possible at the time.
 
Had the British had the forces to go in and do the operation themselves, would that have been better? I suspect not, in the end lasting solutions in Iraq can only come from iraqis themselves, A British, or indeed US offensive into Basra would undoubtedly have quelled the insurgency at the time, but would have bred more dissatisfaction in Basra over the long term as it would have been seen as yet another foreign attack by an opressing force, it may have have pushed more locals into extremist postions over time.Thus, it had to be an iraqi offensive.
 
I think trying to define the Iraqi mission for the coalition as a whole by purely military means is not going to work anyway, if you were to split the Basra problem up, you could claim an undeniable success for the British army in 2003 by managing to take the city fairly bloodlessly and for this they deserve great credit, but in occupying and policing the country, military objectives are no longer enough, foreign forces can only tolerably operate where their is a perceived mandate from those being policed, over staying your welcome simply begats violence.
 
In the end the British army achieved a degree of military success in 2003, and then achieved mixed results in policing Basra, on and off until the Iraqi army was ready for action, if the British mission in Iraq can be judged on allowing the Iraqis themselves to take charge then it is indeed a success, although not one from which the media can extract soundbites and good images. It wa sa thankless task and now it is over, and the British soldiers can be proud of their work, I feel that it will tkae  along time, until well afte rthe US itself leaves, before anyone will construct a sober and rational narrative for coaltion success or failure in Iraq.
 
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John G       5/1/2009 9:33:59 AM
There is a definate lack of political will in the UK with regards to Iraq lots more so than afghanistan. To be frank most people here in the UK believe they were going to war to disarm and overthrow a NBC weapons armed Saddam. That has for quite some time been obviously not the case so the public want out. The government represent the people of the nation in that respect but understand we have a duty to perform as allies and a moral obligation to at least leave Basra/Iraq in a state of relative peace. I think in that respect we've not done too badly on a peace time defense budget that represents an ever decreasing share of GDP.
 
As for being a failure if you have read all and watched all of the BBC reports you would have noticed that most Iraqi's are pleased with how the British have treated them and now think it is the right time for us to go. Besides if the Iraqi army can do the job why should we do it? As others have said surely that was the objective wasn't it? We were not an occupying force we were there to train, help the Iraqi army/police and maintain security until they could do the job for themselves.
 
As far as I was aware the British operations are a continuing success in afghanistan in fact SP even has an article: http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/20090427.aspx 
 
 
 
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John G    besides if history is anything to go by...   5/1/2009 9:46:04 AM
.... we'll be there again before too long....http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Overseas/IraqWW1GravesRecovery.html
 
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strat-T21C       5/1/2009 12:12:51 PM

There is a definate lack of political will in the UK with regards to Iraq lots more so than afghanistan. To be frank most people here in the UK believe they were going to war to disarm and overthrow a NBC weapons armed Saddam. That has for quite some time been obviously not the case so the public want out. The government represent the people of the nation in that respect but understand we have a duty to perform as allies and a moral obligation to at least leave Basra/Iraq in a state of relative peace. I think in that respect we've not done too badly on a peace time defense budget that represents an ever decreasing share of GDP.

 

As for being a failure if you have read all and watched all of the BBC reports you would have noticed that most Iraqi's are pleased with how the British have treated them and now think it is the right time for us to go. Besides if the Iraqi army can do the job why should we do it? As others have said surely that was the objective wasn't it? We were not an occupying force we were there to train, help the Iraqi army/police and maintain security until they could do the job for themselves.

 

As far as I was aware the British operations are a continuing success in afghanistan in fact SP even has an article: link

 ****The Brits are fighting pretty hard out West in Helmand. Lots of contact with casualties all the time.

 



 
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DarthAmerica       5/1/2009 3:44:27 PM

The British Army certainly does not have the resources to fight two small but long term wars anymore. The question is, are the British Generals going to claim that the mission was a success because their strategy was to train the Iraqi army and police to take a control of the city themselves? This is exactly what they did so I feel the British Army have every right to say it was a success in that aspect.

 

The underlying problem is that this is the only tactic that could have worked for them as they simply do not have the resources to defeat the militias themselves. The militias certainly should never have been allowed to obtain as much power as they did - and if Basra had seen the levels of violence of some of the more northen cities such as Bahgdad it could have been a completely different story when the Iraqi army went on the offensive against the militias.

 
It did. You thanked God to when you made it through that area. We never trusted the IPs down there either. Moreover, the IED threat was clearly of better quality(ah-hem...Iran) and that didn't let up until the Iraqis moved in in force to crush the insurgency. One of the best days was seeing the Iraqi Huey and MI-17s terrain hugging south along the MSR toward BASRA. I remember EVERYBODY was on the radio wondering WTF, who is that? Honest to God I thought it might be Iranians for a few seconds and believe I had those .50 Cal and M240B ready! 
-DA

 
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Aussiegunneragain       10/16/2009 11:47:39 PM

The author of of this article is a moron. The Brits secured and held the line in their AO in Iraq until the Iraqis themselves were ready to take over. Its their country and that is the desired outcome, so the Brits can't be regarded as having been anything but successful.

 
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JTR~~    RE:DarthAmerica   3/21/2010 9:00:57 AM




The British Army certainly does not have the resources to fight two small but long term wars anymore. The question is, are the British Generals going to claim that the mission was a success because their strategy was to train the Iraqi army and police to take a control of the city themselves? This is exactly what they did so I feel the British Army have every right to say it was a success in that aspect.



 



The underlying problem is that this is the only tactic that could have worked for them as they simply do not have the resources to defeat the militias themselves. The militias certainly should never have been allowed to obtain as much power as they did - and if Basra had seen the levels of violence of some of the more northen cities such as Bahgdad it could have been a completely different story when the Iraqi army went on the offensive against the militias.



 


It did. You thanked God to when you made it through that area. We never trusted the IPs down there either. Moreover, the IED threat was clearly of better quality(ah-hem...Iran) and that didn't let up until the Iraqis moved in in force to crush the insurgency. One of the best days was seeing the Iraqi Huey and MI-17s terrain hugging south along the MSR toward BASRA. I remember EVERYBODY was on the radio wondering WTF, who is that? Honest to God I thought it might be Iranians for a few seconds and believe I had those .50 Cal and M240B ready! 

-DA






thank you, finally someone that talks sense, I don?t see why people claim that Basra was the quiet end of Iraq, and that British forces in the area had the job of babysitting the city, it was as tough a place as any to be in, for all those who claim it was a walk in the park i didn?t see you jumping to sign up for what they would call (a holiday in Basra).
as for the main question, the British army?s operation was a success in terms of the strategic objectives that they set out to complete, hence a withdrawal from the area after tidying up the loose ends, you may say that they were somewhat more successful than other NATO forces due to the speed of their completion of their objectives, but that is not for me to say, for I am neither a politician or an general

regards JTR~~
 
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