Hopes of a rapid British withdrawal from Iraq appeared to diminish yesterday after a minister said the present force level was needed for the safety of the troops.
Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces minister, admitted there was "not much left in the locker" following disclosures that the Army had almost no reserves.He appeared to spike any plans Gordon Brown might have for reducing numbers in Iraq by admitting that "we are approaching the levels where we go no further" below the present level of 5,000 troops.
The above, noted by Polly, is from Thomas Harding's "Troop withdrawal from Iraq hopes fade" (Telegraph of London). The new government doesn't want to leave. This despite KUNA's report that yesterday's shelling in Basra led the British military compound to catch fire.
Monday, the US military sneaks this out: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed July 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." It's dated "Monday" and "July 23" on the press release. There's no excuse for a two day delay (the death was on the 21st). Apparently they're going to hold death announcements until they feel good and damn ready. MNF doesn't identify the dead (DoD does). But no one's even supposed to notice the delay. Maybe MNF will soon move to a once month announcement?
Think it's unlikely? William Yardley's "At Fort Lewis, Cutting Memorials Brings Anger" (New York Times) reported reveals Fort Lewis has decided they'll do one monthly memorial as opposed to memorials as needed (when a soldier from Fort Lewis is announced dead):
Twenty soldiers deployed to Iraq from the Army base here had been killed in May -- a monthly high -- when the base announced a change in how it would honor its dead. Instead of units’ holding individual services as casualties occurred, they would be held collectively once a month.
[. . . ]
"If I lost my husband at the beginning of the month, what do you do, wait until the end of the month?" asked Toni Shanyfelt, who said her husband is serving one of multiple tours in Iraq. "I don't know if it's more convenient for them, or what, but that's insane."
They've prevented the coffins from being photographed arriving and that worked for awhile. Now MNF takes two days (at least) to announce a death and Fort Lewis will be doing mass memorials once a month.
Let's all play like Congress and pretend to do something while doing nothing.
Yesterday, an unembedded, independent journalist gets all touchy when asked (on air) why he's just finished a trip to Iraq as an embed. He's offended by the question and offers a lot of blah blah that's supposed to reassure when I believe it was Ann Arbor where people first learned that he would kind of tell the truth . . . eventually . . . on his way out the door there. He'd offer that maybe he should have worked on the issue of making the student paper more receptive to providing jobs to minorities but didn't -- and that wasn't his fault, of course. It was the rabble, you understand. Keeping his nose clean and doing his columns by e-mail allowed him to avoid what was going on, he explained. Possibly he'll have something explosive on his way out the door again?
Billie passes on this from DFW's NBC 5, it's a video clip. You'll learn that law enforcement in North Texas has a bullet shortage -- law enforcement has a bullet shortage -- and they're being told that maybe they just shouldn't plan to buy any bullets until the illegal war is over? (Ellen Goldberg's the reporter, by the way.)
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