Gordon Brown accused of breaking Iraq promise

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Gordon Brown accused of breaking Iraq promise

Post by Guest on Wed 19 Mar 2008, 7:06 am

Gordon Brown has been accused of breaking his promises on Iraq as troops were told a force of 4,000 would need to stay in the country until the end of the year.
  • Watch Telegraph TV talking to frustrated troops in Basra
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    The disclosure came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the invasion. Last year the Government announced to great fanfare that troop levels would be reduced to 2,500 this spring.
    Line of fire: Gordon Brown at Basra air station in December

    However, following advice from senior generals over continued instability in the country, it has been forced to renege on the pledge.

    The news will come as a blow to the 1,500 servicemen and women who had been told they would be home next month.

    They will now have to stay in the country until the end of June or until they are replaced.

    The about-turn has been forced by continued rocket attacks on the base at Basra airport and the reliance of the inexperienced Iraqi army on British support.

    "Following a force level review conducted in theatre we have decided - after taking advice from commanders on the ground - that troop levels cannot come down by more than a few hundred," a Whitehall source said.

    The announcement that 7 Brigade will deploy with 3,900 men will be made in the coming weeks.

    Following the withdrawal from Basra city last September, some military planners had hoped there would be only a handful of military advisers left in Iraq by the end of this year.

    Mr Brown was accused of playing "cynical" politics and using the military as a "political football" last October after he said that 1,000 troops would be home by Christmas.

    The announcement was made during the Conservative Party conference and as general election speculation was running high.

    Government sources defended the reversal saying it showed that the Prime Minister was "big enough" to take tough decisions.

    "The PM is doing the grown-up thing and he's not going the easy political route," a source said.

    The news that more than 12,000 British troops are going to remain on front-line operations will come as a blow to military planners who had hoped that reductions in Iraq would ease the strain on the overburdened Forces.

    Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has warned that the Army's engine can "run fast provided it's got sufficient oil but I'm desperate to make sure our engine doesn't seize".

    Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former soldier, warned that the military did not have the manpower "to carry on war on two fronts at this level".

    He said: "This is not only a broken promise but directly impinges on our ability to fight in Afghanistan.

    "Sir Richard also endorsed yesterday's story in The Daily Telegraph in which paratroopers deploying to Afghanistan said lives would be put at risk by not having enough night vision goggles for training.

    "We need more volume of equipment in our hands so we've got more equipment for pre-deployment training so our people are familiar with kit before they deploy," he said.

  • Source: Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/19/niraq119.xml


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