Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Extreme Training

British forces in Basra have been using some rather unorthodox techniques to train their Iraqi colleagues.

Lesson 1
Defending prisons against assault by heavily armoured vehicles.
Right chaps, what we'll do is, we'll attack your prison with some tanks and you try to keep us out. We'll use live round, keeps everyone on their toes and whatnot. These Arab types lose interest frightfully quickly if you don't keep an eye on them you know. Something to do with the heat affecting their brains. Right, here we come, ready or not...

I'm actually at a loss for words. The MoD has confirmed that a prison wall has been destroyed but they claim it was "by accident". Don't you just hate it when you accidentally knock over a prison wall? Happens to me all the time. They should probably start making them out of something a bit less prone to being knocked over if you ask me.

Sorry for all the sarcasm but I am quite literally gob-smacked by this. If the eye witness accounts are true then this may well have very serious repercussions for security in the south of Iraq. The apparently heavy handed approach of UK troops is hardly what you'd call a traditional "hearts and minds" campaign. And there are already large numbers of Iraqi's in Basra who want a Islamic fundamentalist style government in the south as well as closer ties with Iran. It seems reasonable to assume that some of these people have joined the Iraqi security forces. Are some of these security forces now starting to show their support for Muqtada al-Sadr and the al-Mahdi army? At this stage, it's not easy to say for sure but the signs are not good. It doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence in the US/UK strategy to replace our troops with newly trained Iraqi forces.

In fact, it looks like an age old story is about to be repeated once again. It's the standard invade, stir things up a bit, train the locals in warfare, acquire a reasonable level of control of available resources, leave. Voila, one country full of people who have serious disagreements and the military skills and equipment to have a jolly good war civil war to sort it all out. Splendid. The British government has been doing it for hundreds of years. Why change a winning formula?

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