Wednesday, August 23, 2006

coincidence? Brits to reduce troops...US recalls Marines

Marine Corps to start involuntary troop recalls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Marine Corps will start recalling thousands of inactive service members in the coming months to counter a steady decline in the number of non-active troops volunteering for duty, the service said on Tuesday.
To meet critical needs, President George W. Bush authorized the Marine Corps to issue involuntary recall orders to members of the Individual Ready Reserve, part of the non-active force. It will be the Marine Corps' first involuntary recall since the ground invasion of Iraq in 2003.
While the length of each activated servicemember's duty is capped, there is no time limit on the Marine Corps' authority to involuntarily recall Marines for jobs in the "Global War on Terror" -- a war whose parameters remain largely undefined.

"The authority is until GWOT is over with," Stratton said. "Until we're told to do otherwise, we'll use it."

The Marine Corps' move comes almost five years after the September 11 attacks that led the United States to declare "a war against terrorism of global reach" and more than three years after the Iraq war began.

Many Marines have performed three tours of duty in Iraq since March 2003. While the U.S. Army has provided most of the ground forces fighting an insurgency there, the Marines have carried a heavy load and been deployed in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, Anbar province.

U.K. Planning to Cut Iraq Force in Half by Mid-2007 (Update5)

By Robert Hutton and Reed V. Landberg

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Britain plans to cut the number of troops it has in Iraq in half by the middle of 2007, handing over control for security earlier than previously forecast, two government officials with knowledge of the plan said today.


``We've done a lot of training for the Iraqi army over the past two years and (wait for it) ...they're up to the job,'' said Louise Heywood, head of the U.K. armed forces program at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based military researcher. ``They've become a force that's capable of standing up to the insurgents.''

ah hell. if you've read to here, you might as well throw this in -- Ken Silverstein from last month's (August) Harper's gives the skinny on our little war.

The Minister of Civil War
Bayan Jabr, Paul Bremer, and the rise of the Iraqi death squads

In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the streets and garbage dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically found blindfolded and handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture—broken skulls, burn marks, gouged-out eyeballs, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had grown to more than 500. In November, American troops discovered more than 160 beaten, whipped, and starved prisoners—again, mostly Sunni—at a secret detention center run by the country's Interior Ministry. Since then, Shiite militias have become so integrated into the Iraqi government's security apparatus and their work so organized, systematic, and targeted that they are commonly referred to in Iraq (and in the American media) by their proper name: death squads. The death squads, which have expanded their area of operations from the capital across much of the country, are now believed to be responsible for more civilian deaths than the Sunni and foreign insurgents who are the United States' ostensible enemies there. By any reasonable measure, Iraq is in a state of civil war, and some of its most ruthless and lawless combatants are members of the government's own security units.

The rise of the death squads corresponds almost precisely to the April 2005 appointment of Bayan Jabr as interior minister in Iraq's transitional government. The Interior Ministry, which is something like a combined FBI and Department of Homeland Security, controls billions of dollars and more than 100,000 men in police and paramilitary units. Jabr was a former high-ranking member of the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade, the military arm of the fundamentalist Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) that is now the dominant political force in the country. After taking over the Interior Ministry, he quickly purged it of Sunnis, and members of the Badr Brigade were widely incorporated into the ministry's police and paramilitary units.

Jabr—who in May of this year was named finance minister in a new government headed by Nuri al-Maliki—has disavowed any personal or institutional responsibility for violence committed by the death squads. He has now acknowledged that some groups operated within the Interior Ministry while he headed it, but he insists that they were few in number; he blames much of the sectarian killing on terrorists “using the clothes of the police or the military.” At a press conference last November that followed the discovery of the torture chamber in an Interior Ministry building, Jabr said, “You can be proud of our forces. [They] respect human rights.”


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