On the Sidelines in Basra: British Tackle a New Role

The British soldiers spent more than an hour drilling the Iraqi army recruits in how to use key equipment needed to defend Basra from deadly mobs: body-size shields and menacing red batons.

“This is how you protect the city!” barked Sgt. George Parker, a gruff 34-year-old from Edinburgh, Scotland, as the Iraqis surveyed the shiny hardware the British were lending them for the training session last month. “We’re not there anymore, so you need to learn how to use your weapons to defend yourselves.” But there was one problem. Iraqi facilities had none of the riot gear the British assumed they did, according to the recruits’ commanding officer, Lt. Kareem Hussein Tuwene. “Don’t they know we have nothing?” he said, speaking through a British military interpreter. “If they would leave the camp, they would see we have just a helmet and rifle. That’s it.” Full Story

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