At the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, the United Kingdom had committed almost 50,000 troops to the war effort. Now, there are only 5,500. Stabilization in the region – as well as the tremendous unpopularity of the war at home – have influenced Britain to gradually reduce its troop levels to about 15% of invasion levels and, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Gordon Brown today, Britain will cut this number even further by the spring of 2008.
British troop levels will be reduced to about 4,000 within a short period, then drawn down to “about 2,500” by the beginning of spring, according to an official announcement. The remaining troops will mainly participate in training and equipping the quickly growing Iraqi security force. Approximately 35,000 Iraqi security personnel are expected to be able to take control of the southern part of the country by this spring. It’s said that Brown would like to have completely withdrawn all British troops from the country by the 2008 spring elections in Britain, which I’m sure we can all understand.
The LA Times reports that there is some “private” grumbling among American leaders about this “early” withdrawal. On the other hand, British military and civilian leaders seem to be quite satisfied that the main long-term objectives of their military involvement have been satisfied – equipping and training the Iraqis so that they’re able to protect themselves. I don’t think that’s exactly the American objective in Iraq. Actually, I rather always thought that our objective was to establish a permanent military position in the Middle East and dominate economic rights to what is potentially the world’s second-largest oil-producing nation. Is that too much for the preeminent global superpower to hope for? Ask Russia. Ask the European Union. Ask China.
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