6 years ago
The Times is reporting that British command was recently snubbed by Maliki during the latest Basra fighting.
Relations between Britain and Iraq suffered “catastrophic failure” after Baghdad bypassed the British military and called in the American “cavalry” to help the recent offensive against Shia militia in Basra, The Times has learnt.
About 550 US troops, including some from the 82nd Airborne Division, were sent from Baghdad to Basra to join up with 150 American soldiers already serving with Iraqi forces in the southern city.
The Ministry of Defence made much of the fact that British troops, based at Basra airport outside the city, were not requested in the early stages of the operation. British officials claimed that the Basra offensive was proof that Iraqi troops could cope on their own.
The Times has learnt, however, that when Britain’s most senior officer in Basra, Brigadier Julian Free, commander of 4 Mechanised Brigade, flew into the city to find out what was going on, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, who was orchestrating the attacks on militia strongholds, declined to see him.
Brigadier Free flew to Basra city with Lieutenant-General Lloyd Austin, the commander of American and coalition forces in Iraq, on March 27, two days after the operation began. The Iraqi Prime Minister spoke only to the US general.
A source familiar with the sequence of events said that Mr al-Maliki seemed to have it in for the British because of the alleged “deal” struck with the Shia militia last year under which they agreed not to attack Britain’s last battalion as it withdrew from Basra in return for the release of several of their leading members from prison.
According to The New York Times, Baghdad turned to the Americans for help when the Basra operation was launched. Two senior American military officers, Rear Admiral Edward Winters, a former member of the US Navy Seals special forces unit, and Major-General George Flynn, a Marine, were sent to Basra to help to coordinate the operation. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were drafted in as combat advisers and air controllers were positioned to call in airstrikes …
A source told The Times that US forces were in Basra, eating and sleeping alongside their Iraqi counterparts, “basically doing the work that we were supposed to do. It was a catastrophic failure of diplomacy.”
The source described the moment when the American general arrived at the British base from Baghdad: “Suddenly the cavalry appeared.”
The source said that the Americans provided “loads of technical equipment and combat power”. As soon as the Americans arrived and started hitting houses in Basra, the daily attacks of indirect fire on the British base stopped. The source said that during that time the mood among the British forces on the base was “miserable”.
We knew that the security situation was bad in 2007 and before, but now we learn that Britain dealt with the deaths of seven soldiers due to sniper fire in Basra last year due to the same shooter.
Seven British soldiers were shot in Basra last year by the same sniper rifle, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.
The troops were picked off one by one on the streets of the southern Iraqi city by a weapon firing high-velocity American-made bullets.
Rifleman Aaron Lincoln, 18, Kingsman Danny Wilson, 28, Kingsman Alan Jones, 20, Corporal Rodney Wilson, 30, Rifleman Paul Donnachie, 18, and two others who have not yet been named, were all killed by bullets from the same weapon, said a spokesman for the MoD.
But he could not verify that a single gunman was responsible.
Rifleman Lincoln, of the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed on April 2 last year by a single bullet that penetrated his protective glasses and helmet, an inquest in Spennymoor, County Durham, heard yesterday.
Of the five soldiers that have been identified, four were shot in April. Corporal Wilson was killed on June 7.
Ballistics expert Ann Kiernan told the inquest: “There had been several incidents where projectiles have all been discharged from the same rifle.”
The bullets were made by arms manufacturer Lake City Arsenal and the hearing was told the military cannot yet provide helmets strong enough to withstand such powerful ammunition.
Rifleman Lincoln’s platoon had been sent on to the city streets as part of an operation to divert enemy attention from a re-supply convoy of 30 trucks due at the British camp.
Coroner Andrew Tweddle said he was concerned the bullet had penetrated the soldier’s helmet, but noted evidence given that the Army were unable to “provide a higher level of protection”.
He recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, adding that Rifleman Lincoln was shot by enemy fire. “He sustained a single gun shot wound to the head,’ he said. ‘This 5.56mm, U.S. manufactured round was not fired by friendly forces.’
The answer for the U.S. when sniper fire was encounted in Anbar and Tarmiyah was force projection. The answer for the British was withdrawal, but only after a deal had been struck to give prisoners back in order to avoid being targeted again.
Just deplorable. I lack adequate words to respond.