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Friday, February 23, 2007

UK Troops in Iraq: TimeLine

by Sarah Meyer

Photo: Guardian.

updated 20.08.07

TRUTH (Oxford English Dictionary): 3. disposition to speak or act truly without deceit ... integrity; II.1. Conformity with fact; agreement with reality, accuracy, correctness.

TRUE (Oxford English Dictionary): 1. Steadfast in adherence to a commander or friend; to a principle or cause, to one's promises, faith, etc.

Whilst Blair has been 'true' to himself and his 'commander,' P-Resident Bush, has he ever told the truth about Iraq? The keynote of Blair’s policy is contempt. "The fact is ... " is one of his staple remarks. As with Maggie Thatcher, no fact is then presented. But we can be quite sure a new 'fact' will follow a previous lie. Blair is a the very model of hypocrisy. The UK policy has. to date, fallen in line with US policy. US V.I.P government members come and go, telling PM Blair what / what not to do. Will Tony B. remove the troops before he removes himself from his post (or is removed) as Prime Minister, leaving this difficult job to his successor? Unlikely. The U.K media, with few exceptions, follows Blair's pronouncements without following the indiscrepances. Following is a UK Troop Timeline.

UK troops to stay in Iraq 'to protect investment.'
22.08.06. K. Sengupta, Independent. A force of around 4,000 British troops will stay behind in Iraq for an indefinite period, even after all provinces controlled by the UK are handed over to the Baghdad government in nine months' time. The soldiers will be positioned at a base in Basra ready to act to "protect the investment (sic)" made by US and British forces in the country… Rome government plans to pull out the whole force of 2,700 within the next month. … Marine Colonel Guy Stratton estimated that there was a current shortfall of about 1,200 marines needed to fill positions in upcoming deployments. (N.B. See Oil map)

Britain forces to send more troops to Iraq.
06.09.06. Norton-Taylor / MacAskill / Morris, Guardian.

Army: Troops to Stay in Iraq Until 2010
11.10.06. A/P / Guardian.

Army could be broken by Iraq, warns chief officer
13.10.06. T. Shipman, Daily Mail. "The Army could 'break' if it is kept too long in Iraq and British troops should be withdrawn 'soon', the head of the Army has said today. … Sir Richard warned that the continuing presence of British troops "exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq."

Britain to withdraw troops from Iraq
27.11.06. AP / ICH.

British troops may stay in Iraq until 2016
28.11.06. R. Beeston, TimesonLine.

Basra mission to finish soon: Blair
11.01.07. Sydney Morning Herald. British operations aimed at preparing for the handover of security in Basra to Iraqi authorities could be completed in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Tony Blair says.


3,000 British troops to pull out of Iraq by May
12.01.07. Harding / Harnden, Telegraph.
Also see: Britain to unveil timetable for limited withdrawal, but in this story Foreign Secetary Beckett hedges: "We will make our … decisions depending on the progress of those (security situation imporvement) events."

14.01.07. Robert Gates visits PM Tony Blair and Defense Minister Des Browne to discuss the new Iraq plan.

British troops may leave within a year, says Iraqi Vice-President
16.01.07. Anne Penketh and Colin Brown, Independent. British troops could withdraw from Iraq within a year provided the Iraqi armed forces are reformed, says the country's Vice President. .. Tariq Al-Hashimi, a member of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim community, called for entire units of the Saddam Hussein-era Iraqi army to be reinstated, which he said would speed up reform and eliminate sectarian tensions. He made the comments as it emerged that Tony Blair had discussed boosting the number of UK soldiers in Afghanistan.

UK general: UK troops to stay in Iraq through 2007
19.01.07. Reuters. Britain's senior representative in Iraq on Friday said British forces will remain in Iraq through 2007 and perhaps into 2008 if the Baghdad government asks for continued help.

The Letter: 'Sick or injured children, who could be easily treated, are left to die in hundreds'
19.01.07. Independent Letter. We understand that the UK may withdraw its forces from Iraq in 2007. Before this happens, we call on the UK Government not to walk away from this problem, but to fulfil its obligations that it entered into under Security Council Resolution 1483 during the period 22 May 2003 to 28 June 2004.

British Defense Secretary arrives in Baghdad
28.01.07. Reuters. But British officials insist London is not leaving Washington in the lurch, because the southern areas patrolled by British troops are quieter than the area in and around Baghdad that Bush intends to fortify with his "surge" plan. The Defense Ministry spokesman said Browne's visit was long-planned and not a response to a change in U.S. policy. British forces have already turned over to Iraqis security responsibility for two of the four southern provinces they controlled, and have largely vacated a third province. They are now conducting a security sweep called Operation Sinbad in Basra, Iraq's second biggest city, and say they will probably withdraw to a single base outside the city if it is successful in the next few months.

US plea to Britain: 'Don't abandon main Iraq base'
28.01.07. R. Whitaker, Independent. Behind the scenes, the US is pressing for Shaibah to be kept open, amid concern that the strategic supply route from Kuwait into southern Iraq might become vulnerable.

Britain's war on two frontlines: In Afghanistan and Iraq, two missions, one deadly outcome
21.01.07. R. Whitaker, Independent. In Iraq, by contrast, the battle for hearts and minds has all but been given up. Although efforts continue to root out rogue elements in the Basra police, troops are largely staying within their bases and seeking to avoid casualties. A steady trickle of losses to small arms fire, mortars and roadside bombs continues, however, with another soldier killed on patrol last week. … The British military, in short, is on the front foot in Afghanistan and on the back foot in Iraq. But the number of troops stationed in and around Basra - around 7,100 - is still well above the total in Helmand, where some 4,000 troops are based out of a total force in Afghanistan of about 5,200. While the US prepares to send in extra forces to seize control of Baghdad, British military chiefs have long sought to "draw down" their Iraq contingent so that the Afghan mission can be beefed up. The delays in achieving this are beginning to impose increasing strains on forward planning. … But in the wake of (Gates) remarks it emerged Britain was also looking at ways of stepping up its force in Afghanistan. … any attempt by British forces to assert

Blair to shun Iraq debate in Commons
21.01.07. Times on Line. The move comes in the week the government prepares to send an extra battalion of about 500 soldiers to Afghanistan despite fears from senior commanders that the army is overstretched. Blair hopes to head off the criticism by matching extra forces for Afghanistan with reductions in troops in Basra and southern Iraq this spring.

Blair misses key debate as Lib Dems and Tories clash over Iraq pull-out
25.01.07. P. Wintour, Guardian. Deepening divisions over Iraq emerged yesterday as the Liberal Democrats became the first mainstream political party to call for the total withdrawal of 7,000 British troops from the country by October. The Conservatives warned that they will stage a Commons vote by the end of the year for a public inquiry into the war if Tony Blair's successor has not established one. Mr Blair, who came under savage criticism for failing to attend yesterday's Commons debate - the first on Iraq since 2004 - criticised the Liberal Democrat timetable at prime minister's questions. … Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, said of Mr Blair's absence: "Why was he so anxious to talk us into this disastrous war but so reluctant to explain how we will get out of it?"

11th-hour bid to halt Iraq war revelations
28.01.07. Jamie Doward, Guardian. Ross's book is likely to make uncomfortable reading for ministers as it raises questions about why the government continued to support the Iraq invasion if it did not believe that Saddam Hussein was a genuine threat. … Submitted to the Foreign Office for clearance in August 2006, the department finally approved it - with cuts - last December. Last night the Foreign Office confirmed that it had sent Ross a letter but said this was not an attempt to halt the book's publication.

UK guilty of sending ‘child soldiers’ to Iraq
03.02.07. Scotsman. Breaking UN treaty; even sending 17 yr old girls.

On 19.02.07, I had an email from Military Families Against the War. They said: "Despite stories in the press about British troop numbers being halved in May we are getting reports from Military Family members that their sons are to be
deployed to Iraq in DECEMBER 2008
. The Guardian does not mention this in their story (following)

Iraq: the British endgame
21.02.07. Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian. '1,000 troops out by May, all gone by end of 2008'

The BBC tends to take whatever PM Tony says at face value. This is a big error.
Blair to confirm Iraq timetable

The Scotsman gives the best analysis.
Thousands of troops to stay in Iraq as Blair dashes hopes of speedy exit.
22.02.07. Scotsman.

Army commanders wanted bigger and faster troop pullout
22.02.07. Norton-Taylor / Howard / Woodward, The Guardian. Military chiefs had been pushing for much bigger cuts in the number of British troops in Iraq than those announced yesterday by Tony Blair, defence officials made clear last night.

The Media have done their homework, finally:
4,000 troops will stay in Iraq 'for five years'
22.02.07. Harding / Jones, Telegraph. 'At least 4,000 British troops will be serving in Iraq for another five years under current military planning despite the Prime Minister's pledge yesterday of substantial withdrawals.'

Blair rejects Greenstock criticism of Iraq invasion follow-up
22.02.07. E. McLaren, Times on Line.

As Jon Snow of Channel 4 News says, "HANG ON A MINUTE." Not long ago, the US withdrew troops from Afghanistan to send to Iraq. Now we see the news: Britain to send extra troops to Afghanistan: report (22.02.07, Washington Post)

. Bring Them Home. Pete Seeger.

Stop the War Coaliation is holding a Troops Out of Iraq / No Trident demonstration in London on 24 February, 12 noon. Be there.


See also Military Families Against the War


Blair defiant over Iraq security
22.02.07. BBC. The UK is to withdraw 1,600 troops from Iraq but Mr Blair said numbers could increase again "if we're needed".

PM criticised for dodging 'bad news' on Afghan troops
24.02,07. Independent. The Prime Minister made no mention of the plan to deploy more British forces to the front line when he told MPs on Wednesday that the historic withdrawal of British forces in Iraq would begin this summer with a cut of 1,600 troops.

British general unveils Basra pull-out plan
24.02.07. Focus-fen. British forces will pull out of the waterfront Shatt al-Arab Hotel, the Old State Building in the town centre and from Shuaiba, southwest of the city. However, they will remain in the city to protect the British consulate at the Basra Palace and at a large base at Basra Airport.

Press briefing from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman on: Afghanistan Troop Annoucement

26.02.07. Number 10.

Scandal of treatment for wounded Iraq veterans
11.03.07. N. Temko / M. Townsend, 11.03.07. Observer. · Soldiers 'denied proper hospital care' · Letters reveal anguish of families See also: The fresh agonies of our returning soldiers (Observer 11.03.07).

JUNE 2007

Top medic blasts delay in treating troops
17.06.07. S. Rayment, Telegraph.  Lt Col Paul Parker says hospitals could run out of blood, oxygen and drugs if more than two seriously wounded troops arrived at the same time. In a withering attack on defence medical policy, Lt Col Paul Parker condemned the treatment of injured troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as being "excessively slow". He blamed the delays on "too much middle management".

A bloody epitaph to Blair's war
17.06.07. A. Johnston, Independent. The death of a hotel receptionist in British custody was first reported by the IoS. In the week that the Law Lords ruled that the Human Rights Act applies to Iraqis in British custody. 'Graphic and shocking new information - including a photograph showing his battered and bruised face - about the death of Baha Mousa, the Basra hotel receptionist killed in British military custody in September 2003, has emerged as scores of Iraqis prepare to sue the Ministry of Defence for alleged mistreatment in detention. '

JULY 2007

Troops shortfall overstretches Armed Forces
03.07.07. Graeme Wilson, Telegraph.

The forsaken: how Britain is failing to care for badly injured troops
15.07.07. Independent. British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering serious combat injuries at a record rate, The Independent on Sunday can reveal, leaving the country facing a crisis over their long-term care.

British death rate in Iraq worse than US: report
16.07.07. The international news.

Britain says to withdraw 500 Iraq troops in weeks
16.07.07. alertnet. Britain expects to withdraw 500 of its 5,500 troops from southern Iraq within weeks and will then assess how soon it can remove the remainder of its forces, Defence Secretary Des Browne said on Monday.... British troops have been deployed mainly in the southern province of Basra, which has a city by the same name and is home to southern Iraq's oil industry.

British Army reserves almost non-existent -report
21.07.07. Reuters.

Troops could leave Basra by year end
26.07.07. Reuters.

Britain will take troops out of Iraq regardless of US, says PM
31.07.07. A. Grice, Independent.


Iraq veterans suffer stress and alcoholism
03.08.07. P. Curtis, Guardian. Long tours in combat zones linked to serious mental problems, study finds

early, after 4 years?
US uneasy as Britain plans for early Iraq withdrawal
08.08.07. MacAskill, Borger, Wintour, Guardian. Americans would prefer UK troops to remain in position as long as they do. The Bush administration is becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of an imminent British withdrawal from southern Iraq [Basra oil fields?] and would prefer UK troops to remain for another year or two.

BUT, is the above story misleading? The Telegraph reports:
British forces failed in Basra, says US official
08.08.07, Damien McElroy, Telegraph. British commanders are preparing to hand over Basra Palace to the Iraqi army later this month. After that the 5,500 British soldiers in southern Iraq will all be based at Basra airport, which also houses international consulates and reconstruction workers.

The Guardian clarifies its front page headline story on p. 4
The dilemma: pulling out as soon as possible while maintaining security
08.08.07. R Norton Taylor, Guardian.

Tim Evans letter to the Editor on UK troop withdrawal
10.08.07. Guardian

more "democracy and freedom" ...
MoD issues gag order on armed forces
10.08.07. Guardian. New restrictions on blogs, emails, websites and text messages. 'Soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel will not be able to blog, take part in surveys, speak in public, post on bulletin boards, play in multi-player computer games or send text messages or photographs without the permission of a superior if the information they use concerns matters of defence. ... The rules have provoked consternation among the ranks, with human rights lawyers saying yesterday that they could be in contravention of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, which allows for freedom of expression ... Service personnel are currently bound by Queen's Regulations, which mean they must seek permission before speaking to the press but are free to blog and take part in online debates. However, many have spoken out anonymously on issues such as poor kit, housing and the treatment of wounded service personnel evacuated from combat zones. Criticism of the RAF in Afghanistan and the state of the ageing vehicles being used there have all appeared in the press.

An unofficial soldiers' website,, was full of angry debate about the issue yesterday. One poster said: "Why does it not occur to MoD that if it did things properly, and treated its people well, they wouldn't feel the need to bring things into the public arena quite so often, and they wouldn't need to spend so much time covering-up?" / Another suggested that the rules were intended to silence the average "tommy" while senior personnel were free to speak to the media without fear of reprimand.'

British losses soar as they prepare to leave Basra city
10.08.07. Independent. Two more British soldiers were killed in southern Iraq yesterday, raising the death toll in the UK's least successful military campaign since Suez in 1956. In both cases the British casualties were low but British forces wholly failed to achieve their objectives.

U.S. Pays Millions In Cost Overruns For Security in Iraq.
12.08.07. S. Fainaru, Washington Post. The U.S. military has paid $548 million over the past three years to two British security firms that protect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on reconstruction projects, more than $200 million over the original budget, according to previously undisclosed data that show how the cost of private security in Iraq has mushroomed./ The two companies, Aegis Defence Services and Erinys Iraq, signed their original Defense Department contracts in May 2004. By July of this year, the contracts supported a private force that had grown to about 2,000 employees serving the Corps of Engineers. The force is about the size of three military battalions. ... The size of this force and its cost have never been documented. The Pentagon has said that about 20,000 security contractors operate in Iraq, although some estimates are considerably higher. ... Aegis and Erinys work side-by-side in Baghdad's Green Zone.

We've been neglected and let down say combat troops.
15.08.07. Guardian. Campaign to be launched over medical care, compensation and inquests

As the death toll continues to rise, how do experts view the possible exit strategies?.
16.08.07. R. Norton Taylor, Guardian.

We were dragged into Iraq by a war-hungry clique of military innocents.
16.08.07. G. Wheatcroft, Guardian In an age in which death tolls are dominated by civilians, we should demand our rulers know what combat involves.

British forces useless in Basra, say officials.
19.08.07. Tim Shipman, Telegraph. 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. 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 sic from their own hard-fought "troop surge" strategy elsewhere.

Military commanders tell Brown to withdraw from Iraq without delay.
19.08.07. Independent.

Brown denies 'failing ' UK Troops.
19.08.07. BBC.


US/UK BASES IN IRAQ, Part II. The South : Falcon-Al-Sarq, Tallil, Shaibah

US Bases in Iraq: Part I: Baghdad

Victims of Violence

Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK

The url to UK Troops in Iraq: Timeline is:


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