British Drawdown Thoroughly Discussed with U.S. Commanders in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2007 The British government’s decision to cut its forces in Iraq by half in the coming months has been thoroughly discussed with Multinational Force Iraq commanders and U.S. officials, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said here today.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Parliament on Oct. 8 that he would remove half of the 5,000-man British contribution in Iraq in the spring. British forces will continue to train and work with Iraqi security forces, Brown said.
The British troops are based in southern Iraq around Basra, the third-largest city in Iraq after Baghdad and Mosul. Britain has been the second-largest contributor of troops to Operation Iraqi Freedom. British troops helped spearhead the invasion in March 2003 and have commanded Multinational Division Southeast ever since.
“The United Kingdom has been a valuable partner in Iraq, contributing troops, diplomacy, finances and law enforcement expertise,” Whitman said. “The prime minister’s announcement of their projected drawdown is something that is well-coordinated with the Multinational Force in Iraq.
“With respect to whether or not any further adjustments need to be made on the ground will depend on whether the Iraqis can pick up the security mission in and around Basra. These are all tactical decisions that the Multinational Force and Multinational Corps commanders will make,” Whitman said.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said he doesn’t expect the transition of British troops to necessitate backfill by U.S. troops.
“I don’t think that’s the direction that (Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus) is going in,” Morrell said.