US-UK War on Iraq – Minus British Troops

As the date for war on Iraq approaches, less and less is heard of the US-UK military partnership in the coming conflict. The impression gained from the most recent pronouncements issuing from 10 Downing Street is that, this time round, British troops will not be fighting alongside the Americans as they did in Gulf War One eleven years ago.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, the 2,000-strong British commando units already operating in Iraq will stay there, the two dozen Royal Air Force vertical takeoff Harrier fighter-bombers will continue to join US air sorties against Iraqi targets, and the two British carriers will remain in the arena. However, the 30,000 British troops and 600 tanks promised for the campaign will not materialize, for three compelling reasons:

First, the British treasury has nowhere to find the money to raise a force of this size and maintain it for any length of time overseas. Washington will not stump up, arguing it is already funding the entire war effort on its own and the war coalition partners will have to pay their way.

Second, Britain is short of the regular and reserve manpower for putting up an army for the Gulf War.

Third, the large-scale maneuver the British army staged last summer in Oman demonstrated its lack of equipment for modern desert warfare, particularly electronic intelligence gear, personal accoutrements – chiefly anti-biological and chemical warfare equipment, tanks, artillery, helicopters, communications equipment and vehicles.

Upgrading the army would be a multi-billion dollar enterprise and is out of the question.

In addition, while the Blair government goes along with President George W. Bush’s plan to disarm Saddam Hussein of unconventional weapons, the prime minister has never endorsed the Bush team’s goal of regime change in Baghdad.

Finally, at a time that many of Britain’s essential services are strike-ridden and otherwise in low condition, the threat of mega-terror appears larger than ever before, whether the assailant is Iraq or al Qaeda. The projected consequences of such an attack for the British economy are regarded as unsustainable. Tony Blair was therefore advised to keep a low profile on the war with Iraq – at least until basic amenities are in place in London to meet large-scale terror attacks.

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