CDS: Iraqis now have a chance

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CDS: Iraqis now have a chance

Post by Guest on Thu 20 Mar 2008, 2:29 pm


Five years since the start of coalition operations in Iraq, CDS has paid tribute to the sacrifice and achievements of the British forces who have served there.

Britain's most senior serving military officer, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, has sent a message to British Armed Forces and their families saying he is proud of what they have achieved in Iraq, adding that it has become clear recently that the British public are proud too.
Iraqis now have a chance of making their lives and those of their children better, Sir Jock said.

He acknowledged that some British troops had made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and the sorrow that has brought to their families and said they would be remembered with sadness but with pride.

While admitting that Operation Telic was not complete CDS stated that thanks to the contribution of British Forces, the Iraqis are on the way to tackling their own problems themselves.
You can listen to CDS's message by clicking the link in Related Links>>>
This is the full transcript of CDS's message:

"The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the beginning of Operation TELIC has, not unnaturally, aroused a great deal of media interest and comment.

"Much of this has concentrated on decisions taken at the outset of the operation and immediately after the war-fighting phase. And there's been considerable debate about the state of Iraq today and its prospects for the future.

"These are complicated issues to which, often, there are no easy answers. And we would expect, in a democracy like ours, for them to be argued vigorously. For mistakes and as in all human endeavour there were undoubtedly mistakes to be analysed and criticised. But in that process some key points have, it seems to me, been either overlooked or underplayed.

"The first is that the fundamental problems which Iraq now confronts are of very long standing, and in recent decades they've merely been suppressed. Sectarian, ethnic and tribal divisions stretch back into history.

"Inadequate economic policies and failing infrastructure are the result of many years of misgovernment. Dealing with the cumulative effect of these problems was always going to be a major challenge; but a challenge that had to be faced if Iraq was to have any prospect of becoming a more stable country with hope for the future.

"The second point is that these problems are ones that only the Iraqis themselves can, in the long run, solve. Our task over the past few years has been to get them to the position where they are able to do that. We cannot do it for them. nor can we guarantee that they will see the task through to a successful conclusion. What we can do is to put them in a position from where they should be able to succeed.

"For us in the south east that's largely been about containing the challenges to security while building the capacity of the Iraqi Army to take on those challenges. But it's also been about forcing the local Iraqis to face up to their own responsibilities as their capacity to do so has developed. Those have been difficult and often dangerous tasks. But they're tasks that have been done extremely well.

"As Iraqi abilities improved last year, so we withdrew from Basra City. That withdrawal wasn't about pulling back in the face of insurgent resistance, it was about forcing the Iraqi authorities to start dealing with their own problems. It was about forcing the pace in order to deliver political momentum. And we've seen some encouraging progress in the months since.

"More and more people in Basra are turning from violence on the streets to politics. Not all of them, and not as quickly as we would like. But those who continue to practise violence are being dealt with increasingly effectively by the Iraqi security forces.

"This doesn't mean that Basra has been transformed. It doesn't mean that there aren't still great difficulties. But it does mean that the Iraqis have started the long process of tackling those difficulties. And the principal reason that they're able to do so is the outstanding contribution that our service men and women have made in Iraq over the past five years.

"The courage and professionalism of everyone who's served in theatre; their unrelenting determination in the face of the most dangerous and difficult conditions; their patience and understanding under the most trying of circumstances these are what have gained the people of south east Iraq the chance at last to make their lives better, and to give their children prospects they could never have had in the past.

"The price has been high. It's involved considerable strain on our people and their families. It's involved physical and mental suffering for some. And on occasion it's involved the ultimate sacrifice, with all the tragedy and sorrow which that brings to the loved ones who remain.

"More and more people in Basra are turning from violence on the streets to politics. Not all of them, and not as quickly as we would like. But those who continue to practise violence are being dealt with increasingly effectively by the Iraqi security forces. This doesn't mean that Basra has been transformed. It doesn't mean that there aren't still great difficulties. But it does mean that the Iraqis have started the long process of tackling those difficulties. And the principal reason that they're able to do so is the outstanding contribution that our service men and women have made in Iraq over the past five years."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup

"We remember them all. We remember those we've lost with sadness but also with pride. We remember those who've suffered bereavement with deep sympathy but also with gratitude for what they bear on this nation's behalf. We remember the wounded and their families with compassion but also with great admiration for the way they've fought back against adversity. And we remember the invaluable contribution of each and every person who's served in the Iraq theatre, and what we owe to the support and bravery of their families at home. Most importantly, we remember that it's because of all of them that Iraqis now have a chance.

"Five years on, Operation TELIC is not yet complete. There are still some critical tasks we have to finish. But we're well down the track of handing over responsibility for the south east of Iraq to those who live there. And we should do so with pride. We cannot deliver their future to them. What we can do and what we are doing is delivering them a chance to make their own future.

"I'm enormously proud of what the British military has achieved, and of what each of you has done in Iraq. And it's quite clear from the opinion polls we've seen in recent days that the British people more widely feel exactly the same about you. so they should."

Source: MOD - http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/CdsIraqisNowHaveAChance.htm

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