Friday, June 22, 2007

News in Brief

It's incredible what you can find out if you read the newspaper closely enough (said I.F. Stone, apparently). He wasn't wrong. Yesterday, a soldier from the 4th Battalion, the Rifles (ex-Green Jackets, for those who aren't keeping up..) was killed in Basra. Note the detail, though: Major Harding was killed by mortar fire onto the Provincial Joint Coordination Centre, that is to say the Iraqi/British tactical command for Basra, which is apparently right downtown.

This is, of course, a problem - with the general concentration back at the RAF's Basra Air Station, small installations like this one are going to be more isolated. There is no clear solution - keeping multiple battalion-size camps in the city of Basra is clearly not a good idea, if it ever was, but moving the PJCC out to the Air Station would be politically foolish and would help cut the Iraqi police and army off in a mini-Green Zone. Hence:
Maj Harding, who served as a rifleman for 30 years, arrived in Basra less than a month before he was killed. He was put in charge of security, resupply and liaison at the Provincial Joint Co-ordination Centre, a small and isolated outpost in central Basra city shared with Iraqi security forces.

On one of his first days there, the building was attacked by more than 200 armed militiamen. Under Maj Harding's "calm and inspiring leadership" British troops fought off the attacks for four hours, using more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition.

On Tuesday night, Maj Harding placed himself in the centre's front sangar - the most exposed fortified position - to help secure the route in for a resupply convoy from the Basra Palace base. He was hit by a mortar round and died instantly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are looking in the right place in terms of the casualty figures - the News24 channel was reporting another fatality from the same unit this morning (Saturday).

A bit more digging for the none fatality figures may reveal some surprising stats in terms of of the attrition rate our squaddies are incurring. The firefigth you mention may not be a rare occassion it may be anything up to 24/7?

As I said earlier. We may be well on the back foot around and in Basra. Which is possibly why we are seeing US operations coming further and further south.

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