Once again, the UK media has actually flexed its’ journalistic muscle and produced this leak to the Mail newspaper in London yesterday. One wonders what happened to the “skillz” of the US media in this area… but I digress.
The Mail has the Full Memo
Decisions on coalition, and within that, UK force levels will be governed by four factors, all of which are subject to a greater or lesser degree of uncertainty:
* Internal Iraqi pressure for further force posture changes.
* Successful progress in the potential process and extension/renewal of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546.
* The continued development of the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
* The security situation.
US political military thinking is still evolving. But there is a strong US military desire for significant force reductions to bring relief to overall US commitment levels.
Emerging US plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in overall MNF-I from 176,000 down to 66,000.
There is, however, a debate between the Pentagon/Centcom (Mail on Sunday footnote 3) who favour a relatively bold reduction in force numbers, and MNF-I whose approach is more cautious.
The current ministerially endorsed policy position is that the UK should not:
a) Agree to any changes to the UK area of responsibility.
b) Agree to any specific deployments outside Multinational Division South East.
c) Agree to any specific increases in the roughly 8,500 UK service personnel currently deployed in Iraq.
Looking further ahead… UK military aspiration to hand over to Iraqi control in Al Muthanna and Maysan provinces… in October 2005 and in the other two Multinational Division South East provinces, Dhi Qar and Basra in April 2006.
The Japanese reconstruction battalion will for example be reluctant to stay in Al Muthanna if force protection is solely provided by the Iraqis. The Australian position, which is highly influenced by the Japanese presence, may also be uncertain.
SO given the current state of relations between British and Iraqi security forces, will the numbers and dates in this memo come to fruition? We’ll see. October is not far away. I’m willing to bet that as local security forces become more and more hostile toward the foreign troops there will be more and more incentive for the foreign troops to pull out.
It is ironic, and sad, that the Iraqis seem to have to liberate themselves from the proclaimed “liberators”… but when dealing with the emergence of a democratic nation, that is precisely the process that all peoples must go through.
Throughout history many if not all of the most successful democracies have been created, not by “liberation” by a foreign power (WWII being the greatest exception) but rather by the organic process of people rising up against their oppressors.
Iraqis would have had a very difficult time throwing away Saddams shackles… they were so tight and so brutal. But now, after 3 years of occupation by foreign powers, they have an opportunity to come together as Iraqis to expel these troops from their country.
No, I’m not calling for a popular uprising.. after all, that is already happening… what I think should happen is the Iraqi government should use this issue to unite their country. Use it to unite the three disparate religious groups (Shiite, Kurd and Sunni). They should speak as one and call for the withdrawal of foreign troops from their soil. In a country that is searching desperately for its’ identity this could be the one, and only issue that would bring them together and truly “liberate” Iraqis.