Tuesday, September 09, 2003

US Reservists to serve longer in Iraq

Reserve Tours Are Extended (washingtonpost.com) The Washington Post reports that US Army reservists and National Guardsmen in Iraq will have their mobilisation extended to a year. Well, it's one way of filling up those gaps. Meanwhile in Ukland, the British force is to be reinforced. 1 Royal Green Jackets and 2 Light Infantry to go out asap. (2LI had got off the mark before Geoff Hoon even stood up in the house yesterday, deploying one of their companies the night before.) No surprises in the selection, as the Jackets are the army spearhead unit at the moment and the Light Infantry are the duty battalion in Cyprus. But what does this mean for the future level of British forces?

After all, reserve call-outs are soon to begin for Operation Telic 3, the next rotation of British troops in Iraq. This is planned to take the 20th Armoured Brigade out there to take over in December. As with the 19th Mechanised Bde, the current force in Basra, they will need about 1,900 Territorials, relieving most of the 2,600 weekend warriors there at the moment. Hoon said that the reinforcements were going until November in the first instance - but it hardly seems plausible that things will have improved that much by then. Overstretch would be bad enough just swapping the 20th for the 19th, but if they have to find two more infantry battalions...the same sort of headline could be coming here soon. Operation Telic - the invasion of Iraq - was said to stand for Tell Everyone Leave Is Cancelled, and before that it was supposedly Op. Deny Christmas. So that'll be Op. Deny Christmas II then?

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