I sometimes look at who visits the Randy McFab journal, and was delighted to see today that I finally reached my target audience.
A visitor from Folsom, California (where the state prison is), found the blog by searching for, and I quote, piss gas mask urinal. Makes me proud, it does.
A new McFab story is up for those interested. Read it and weep!
“Our boys did a great job … but politicians must now take over” (Andy McNab)
Control of Basra was handed over to the country’s authorities . . . and those streets are still not safe.
The Sun asks: “Will leaving the city without establishing peace, order and a sense of democracy mean we have betrayed our troops? Or must we accept that the British role in the oil-rich southern province has been exploited to wound the West – and we should pull out now before more lives are lost needlessly.”
In this article Andy McNab and Iraq expert William Shawcross debate the Iraq issue and we hear from others touched by the conflict.
What Andy has to share:
PEOPLE forget that the job of the infantry is to close with and kill the enemy, and that what they’ve been doing – that’s what they’re for. The Government wants to portray the troops in Iraq as if they have been painting schools or giving out sweets to kids, but that is not what’s happening.
I have visited troops in Basra twice this year and some of the snipers were getting as many as four kills a night. One 19-year-old infantryman had fired 700 rounds in just one contact in the city.
The whole idea of going into Basra and rebuilding hasn’t happened as imagined, and neither have the other plans.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stationed in Basra moved out because they couldn’t achieve anything. As one of the commanding officers said to me, we could stay and kill a couple of hundred more insurgents, but what would be the point.
Where does that get us? You will never win fighting against an insurgency on foreign soil. No one ever has. Everyone knows much of the insurgency is funded and trained by Iran. The squaddies have been pounded by Iranian-made munitions, while our Special Forces have been monitoring insurgents talking in Persian.
So up to now politics has failed and our soldiers kill and get killed.
One group who will not be happy to see the soldiers go are the military interpreters. They have become a target of militia death squads who regard the English-speaking Iraqis as traitors.
The goal now must simply be to get the oil back on line. Even Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve has admitted the war was about oil, although the British Government still don’t want to admit it.
At the moment the oil wells are still burning — they look like huge upturned cigarettes.
We need to move on from our position of strength to negotiate, using politics, deal-making and negotiation.
From a positive point of view, the British infantry is far more professional than it has ever been. That’s because a 19-year-old British soldier today sees more shot and shell, and has more opportunity to kill the enemy, than his granddad did in the Second World War. Then there was an army of over a million spread over several continents. Now, with a bayonet army of just tens of thousands, a soldier has an engagement every 36 hours, often lasting five or six hours.
The British Army’s weapons systems in 2007 are stunning — the new SA80 A2 light support rifle is better than the standard American M16. The new Bulldog armoured vehicle used by troops in Iraq has a computer-guided general-purpose machine gun. It’s like playing a PlayStation: you don’t have to get out to fire, just park it and kick it off. Overall, soldiers have never been better equipped or had a better area of weapons.
The kit is better. The morale is better. I visited 2nd Rifles, who were about to finish a six-month tour in Basra city. They had been shot at and mortared every day. Yet some of them volunteered to stay and join 4 Rifles, the battle group that were taking over. At that level it has been great. But now it has to be political.
As for the Brits retreating? It doesn’t look like the British Army is pulling down the shutters any day soon. Quite the opposite. The COB (Contingency Operating Base at Basra Airport) is constructing more facilities: Permanent, hard-standing parks for tanks and armoured vehicles, new buildings, more infrastructure. Nothing like any retreat I’ve seen. There will still be battle groups ready, if needed.
That’s because Basra needs to have the international airport secure and working to bring in the oil companies.
Iraq needs a secure border to stop the Iranians bringing in weapons and ammunition. That’s why the Iraqis will need Brit Special Forces, or an infantry battle group, to “rock back” into the city if things get out of hand.
The priorities have changed.
Iraq is regarded as Blair’s war. Gordon Brown will want more troops in Afghanistan.
Prince William of Wales is being headhunted to become chief of the legendary Special Air Service.
Senior officers in the crack army regiment have invited the 25-year-old prince to take over as their new Colonel-in-Chief.
They want to make him an honorary member of the unit, entitled to wear the SAS beige beret and cap badge for ceremonial occasions—but not its famous wings symbol.
Wills would not be expected to undertake SAS training but he has already shown a keen interest in the secretive special force.
More than 500 writers have called on Gordon Brown to confront the issue of childhood illiteracy.
The authors have become “deeply concerned” about the “low levels” of literacy “across Britain”.
They are signatories to a letter written to the Prime Minister calling for “a push” on the issue, so that “no child is left behind”.
Andy McNab is amongst the signatories.