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[casi] 'Half a million troops needed to bring Iraq under control' !!

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'Half a million troops needed to bring Iraq under control'

By David Randall and Andrew Johnson

24 August 2003

There was mounting criticism of Britain's response to the deteriorating
security situation in Iraq in the wake of the ambush in Basra that killed
three Royal Military Police.

Several leading defence experts called for more troops to be drafted in, and
a groundswell of voices calling for the entire security operation to be put
under the aegis of the UN was beginning to grow.

Glenda Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate, said yesterday: "Since
the official ending of the war we have reached the 'classic guerrilla war
phase'. The UN should have been in the driving seat, the UN has experience
in post-occupation operations. There has to be an international effort in
Iraq. Otherwise those who would argue that it is a US-led occupation are
going to win that argument."

Others were insistent that, at the very least, troop numbers are greatly
increased. Yesterday a number of defence analysts warned that the deaths of
three British soldiers in Basra mark the early days of an insurgency
campaign in the south.

Major Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, said: "I'm afraid
[yesterday's] attack was just a matter of time. Over the last two weeks we
have seen a good indication of what is to come. Today's deaths were
predictable, as is, I'm afraid, a low-level insurgency campaign against the
occupying forces in Basra and southern Iraq in the future.

"There's no way you can get away from it - it is desperate news. Basra has
been simmering for some time." He added that more "boots" were needed on the
ground. "We are going to need a different level of security."

Former officer and defence expert Michael Yardley said these were not random
attacks. "We were always going to see an extended guerrilla campaign against
allied forces. We know that Saddam Hussein planned for this contingency - to
resist unconventionally.

"It has been suggested that these are random attacks but they are more than
that, although we can't be sure who is responsible - Jihadists, remnants of
Saddam Hussein's intelligence or Fedayeen militia. You need at least half a
million troops to police this country effectively, which we do not have.
Either the intelligence assessment was deficient or George Bush and Tony
Blair were willing to take an unacceptable degree of risk in this campaign."

Britain and the US are now seeking to increase the number of countries
contributing troops to Iraq.

President Bush wants more countries to send troops to participate in the
occupation of Iraq, but faces resistance to any new UN mandate without an
expansion of the international body's political and economic role in Iraq.

A British military spokesman in Basra said yesterday that security
arrangements were"under constant review" and local commanders would act
according to perceived threats.

He added: "Our view is that we have sufficient troops. We have plans in
place to bring in reserves should they be required. That decision has not
been made." Meanwhile, the cost in lives continues to rise.

However one characterises the four months of sabotage, terrorism and
ambushes that have marked the "post-war" period, the cost is growing.

Since 1 May, 135 US troops have been killed, 64 of them in combat, a rate of
attrition which, if it continued at the present rate, would mean that Mr
Bush would be presenting himself for re-election in November 2004 with a
record of some 700 US troops dead since the war's declared end.

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