Monday, June 05, 2006

Impostors and trouble in Basra

CNN: "Police impostors kidnap 50 in Baghdad"

Ian Bruce in the Independent:
There are simply not enough British "boots-on-the-ground" to handle the problems. Basra's UK garrison is about 7200 men and women.

The city's population is more than one million.
Given that the Army could not control a very much smaller and less well-armed Belfast with 27,000 troops in the 1970s, keeping a lid on an increasingly volatile Basra is something of a forlorn hope.


What concerns military commanders is that the attacks are becoming more lethal and the insurgents' advance planning more meticulous. Roadside bomb incidents and occasional sniper fire have averaged two incidents a day since January.

When troops uncovered a cache of weapons and bomb-making equipment last week, they found one armour-piercing device disguised as roadside debris.

Britain's troops in Iraq have responsibility for the four southern provinces of Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna and a patrol sector of several thousand square miles, which ranges from crowded cities to empty desert.

A US government security assessment in late April rated the last three provinces as "moderate" and Basra as "serious", placing it on a par with Baghdad. Only Anbar is classed as "critical".

The bulk of the UK soldiers and their headquarters are located in and around Basra itself.

The garrison is split into detachments covering the main airport, the city itself, the rural area towards the marshes bordering Kuwait to the south and the logistics hub at Shaiba which underpins the entire operation.


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