» Thursday, May 27, 2004


Asked if he could help characterise the announcement made today by Geoff Hoon and whether it should be seen in the context of improving security before the handover of sovereignty the PMOS stated for the purposes of clarity that today’s announcement was the result of recommendations made from British commanders in the field in our particular area, about the needs in our particular area. That should be distinguished from the consultation in progress with our coalition partners about the overall strategic position as we move towards 30 June and Iraqi-isation of the position. Those strategic discussions were continuing and should not be confused with today’s announcement. Today’s announcement was the result of an assessment on the ground of our needs, particularly in the run up to 30 June where increased attempts by terrorists and others to inflict casualties on the coalition forces were expected. This was because they wanted to disrupt the handover to a sovereign Iraqi Government. There had always been this expectation and today’s announcement should be seen in that light.

Asked if this meant that no further troops would be deployed till after 30 June the PMOS said that the reality was that because of the lead times of such decisions it was always going to take longer. Therefore he would make the distinction here between short term and medium term decisions. The precise time scales involved would only become apparent if and when a decision was made and that point had not yet been reached. In response to further questioning he said that any decision would be taken because of assessments of the need and the strategic view of what happened in Iraq and for no other reasons. In terms of public opinion the Prime Minister had firmly stated that it was his view that we must stay in Iraq till the job was done and what we were trying to do was to get Iraq to a position where it could take responsibility for its own security. Any strategic decision would be taken in light of that.

Asked if this meant in light of today’s operational decision that any further decisions would be political ones the PMOS responded that that was too simplistic a characterisation. Any judgement was made on the basis of a military assessment on the ground and the assessment of what is necessary to deliver the overall goals of the coalition in Iraq. That was what would shape any future strategic announcements.

Asked what the net change of troops would be following today’s announcement the PMOS said that there would be a slight increase of about 370 personnel.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news


  1. When I was involved in the production of new products we aimed to spend 80% of our time planning and 20% producing. This resulted in getting the desired product on time and to both quality and cost.
    We produced very high quality, real time, software for the telecomms industry.
    The most important thing to know was the crteria that defined ‘finished’.
    Without knowing what constituted ‘finished’ the Software Quality Assurance department [or the client] would continue testing – forever….
    Without a definition of ‘finished’ for the activities in Iraq the UK will be stuck there forever…
    Why do the PMOS, TB & GWB keep saying "we will stay till the job is ‘finished’" without letting us know what constitutes ‘finished’?
    Maybe they don’t know.
    This is the point in my postings where I always ask for a job so – gis a job ‘cos – given enough money – I could create a list of criteria for ‘finished’ 😉

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 28 May 2004 on 6:40 pm | Link
  2. "Finished" can mean so many things.

    – When the government is "finished" via removal from power;
    – When the politicians are "finished" with having to defend themselves;
    – When the Iraqi government is "finished" enough to be directly attributed blame for failure by the media, rather than attribution to the occupying powers;
    – When the military budgets run out, and Parliament has ‘finished’ giving more money to them;
    – When Blair fails to do well in the election;
    – When Bush fails to do well in the election;
    – When public opinion spins out of control;

    Or, alternately…

    When Rupert Murdoch says it’s over. Because we all know what happens the moment he does.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 1 Jun 2004 on 11:51 am | Link

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