Thursday, May 27, 2004

Lest we think that all is well in the British sector of Iraq.
The Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon today announced a further 370 British troops are to be sent to Iraq.

He said the 1st Battalion the Black Watch, trained in operating out of Warrior personnel carriers, would replace the 1 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who were due to return to the UK.

That would mean a net increase of 200 troops, responding to the "continuing threat from violent groups in the area around Al Amarah", Mr Hoon told MPs in a Commons statement.

In addition, after mortar and rocket attacks targeted at British forces around Al Amarah, 69 Squadron from 36 Regiment Royal Engineers - 170 troops - will be sent to Iraq.

Mr Hoon said they would "carry out force protection work, including the construction of additional physical defences in British bases to reduce the threat posed by the kind of attacks we have seen in recent weeks".
The Financial Times called the troop deployment "a modest increase," and while it is in an absolute sense, in a relative sense Blair is upping the British forces in Iraq by over 2%. Of course, that's a far cry from John Kerry's call to boost US troop presence by 30%.

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