Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about a survey published today suggesting that 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a result of the war in Iraq, the PMOS said that it was important to treat the figures with caution because there were a number of concerns and doubts about the methodology that had been used. Firstly, the survey appeared to be based on an extrapolation technique rather than a detailed body count. Our worries centred on the fact that the technique in question appeared to treat Iraq as if every area was one and the same. In terms of the level of conflict, that was definitely not the case. Secondly, the survey appeared to assume that bombing had taken place throughout Iraq. Again, that was not true. It had been focussed primarily on areas such as Fallujah. Consequently, we did not believe that extrapolation was an appropriate technique to use.
Asked for a reaction to an e-mail from a Black Watch officer criticising the Government’s current Iraq strategy in moving Black Watch to the north of the country to help the US, the PMOS drew journalists’ attention to General John McColl’s comments earlier this month when he had said that it was a military response to a military problem and was the right thing to do. The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) pointed out later that the Defence Secretary had also said last week, “I emphasise again that this was a military request and has been considered and accepted on operational grounds after a thorough military evaluation by the Chiefs of Staff”. General Sir Michael Walker, the Chief-of-the-Defence Staff, had also described it as an “important and viable military task”.
Asked for a reaction to reports that Black Watch troops in the north of Iraq were going to be replaced by the Scots Guards after Christmas, the PMS said that there were no plans to deploy further troops in the area where Black Watch had deployed to, as she understood it. That said, the military had to have contingency plans, as you would expect. Put to her that only the Scots Guards had the capability to replace Black Watch, the PMS said she had seen the speculation about which regiments might take over from Black Watch. However, as she was not an expert in these matters she would refer journalists to the MoD for a more detailed response to the question. Asked the point of pulling Black Watch out before Christmas – only a few weeks before crucial elections were due to be held in Iraq , the PMS said that Black Watch’s current tour of duty in the north of Iraq was a response to a request for assistance to do a specific job.
Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news
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