Monday, September 03, 2007

British Casualty Monitor Update: 03.09.2007

The fortnightly update of Ministry of Defence data on British casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has now been completed for the period up to August 15th. In Iraq, total casualties for 2007 have now reached 1321, while in Afghanistan, total casualties for 2007 so far now stand at 924.

We have now also added a graph of fatality rates, in addition to total numbers, for British troops since the start of the Iraq war.

Resentment and pull-back in Iraq

The rising fatalities illustrated by this analysis seem to be feeding into a growing and publicly stated resentment within the armed services. The BBC report:
"A belief that Iraq is unwinnable, fears that Afghanistan could go the same way and an overwhelming feeling that the government has not looked after the Armed Forces properly in return for the sacrifices they make"
Pull back and withdrawals continue, with the British leaving one base in Basra and, according to this official statement from the MOD, the pull back to the last remaining base at the airport is expected in the next few days. The Times and others are reporting that, in fact, the pull-out was completed last night. This is obviously not to the liking of all.
"A senior United States military adviser has expressed "frustration" at British forces in southern Iraq. Gen Jack Keane, architect of the US "surge", said the British are more focused on training Iraqi troops than controlling "deteriorating" security."
Although, Gordon Brown has ruled out setting a timetable for the final withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, saying they still have "an important job to do", the first public signs of real divisions between George Bush and Gordon Brown over Iraq emerged. The American President said:
"We need all our coalition partners. I understand that everybody's got their own internal politics. My only point is that whether it be Afghanistan or Iraq, we've got more work to do."
However, the former head of the British army, Gen Sir Mike Jackson, and another experienced senior officer from the Iraq war, Maj General Tim Cross, both poured severe criticism on the US strategy in Iraq, calling it "intellectually bankrupt".

Tensions in Afghanistan between US and UK forces

In Afghanistan, the British have gone on the record to request US special forces pull out of Helmand to reduce civilian casualties and start to try and re-build a hearts and minds approach.

The lethality of US air power once again led to British casualties and questions why it always seems to happen to them. And in terms of the future for the British in Afghanistan? A parliamentary committee released a report back in July with stark if carefully worded warnings:
"The language of the report is careful, measured. But there is no mistaking the central message - things are going badly, alarmingly wrong in Afghanistan."